Two intrepid librarians

Two intrepid librarians review the best nonfiction books for children

Monday, August 7, 2023

The Queen of Chess : How Judit Polgár Changed the Game by Laurie Wallmark

The Queen of Chess: How Judit Polgár Changed the Game
by Laurie Wallmark; Art by Steve Lewis
Little Bee Books. 2023

Judit Polgár was born on July 23, 1976 in Hungary. From a very young age, she was fascinated by the game of chess. Her parents trained Judit, and her older sisters, Susan and Sofia, to play genius-level chess. Judit excelled. She'd memorize the patterns of pieces in thousands of difficult chess puzzles. 

Can you tell that Judit loved chess. She was a natural, and, a ferocious competitor. 

"By age eight, Judit had won junior tournaments and was beating strong adult players. At age nine, she was ready for a bigger challenge, so the whole family flew to the United States for the girls to compete in the New York Open."

To hone her skills, Judit and her sister, Sofia, played blindfold chess. Blindfold chess is when you don't use a chessboard. You announce your moves aloud and just imagine the position of each piece and calculate its possible moves. 

In this picture book biography, prolific nonfiction writer, Laurie Wallmark brings readers along as she traces this child prodigy who broke barriers and, at age fourteen, became the youngest grandmaster in history. 

The exciting, fast-paced narrative is supported by the artwork of Steve Lewis. The illustrations show a very determined young girl who found such joy in playing chess. Where the adult players are frowning and looking worried, young Judit always has a hidden smile. 

Judit retired from competitive chess in 2014. 

Backmatter includes a timeline and an explanation on the mathematics of chess. The book does not include any source notes or a bibliography for further reading. 

For chess fans everywhere, regardless of their age.

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