Nadia: The Girl Who Couldn't Sit Still
by Karlin Gray
illustrated by Christine Davener
Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2016
As I watched the Olympics on television Sunday evening a familiar face was in the crowd for the women's gymnastics competition: Nadia Comaneci was in Rio to cheer on the 2016 gymnasts. A new picture book biography introduces young children to the Romanian gymnast and her incredible accomplishments during the 1976 Olympics in Montreal.
The story begins with Nadia as a young girl full of energy and describes how she became involved with gymnastics at an early age. Colorful ink and colored pencil illustrations capture the action and excitement of the gymnastic competitions. The narrative effectively incorporates quotes from the gymnast, her family and coach. Readers will be interested to learn that after Comaneci's Olympic performance on the bars, the "scoreboard flashed a number: 1:00." Coach Bela Karolyi questioned the judges and learned that Comaneci actually scored a 10. The scoreboard could only register 9.99 since no gymnast had ever received a perfect 10 before. Comaneci became the youngest gymnast (age 14) to win a gold medal at the Olympics.
Be sure to read the author's note which explains how and why Comaneci defected from Romania to the U.S. in 1989. Back matter also includes source notes, a timeline and a selected bibliography. Pair Nadia: The Girl Who Couldn't Sit Still with Queen of the Track: Alice Coachman: Olympic High Jump.
The reviewer received a copy of the book from the publisher.