Fastest Woman on Earth: The Story of Tatyana McFadden

Undercats. (Paralympians: Bk. 1). Aug. 2021. 44p. Tr $18.99. ISBN 9781953592040.
K-Gr 2–This first installment in a series that will highlight Paralympic athletes features Tatyana McFadden—known as the fastest woman on earth. Her story is told as a fairy tale that starts in an orphanage in Russia. McFadden was born with spina bifida, and she often had to do things differently than the other children. Her fairy godmother comes in the form of a visitor from America who is impressed with her ingenuity. She gifts McFadden her first wheelchair and takes her home to the U.S. as her adopted daughter. The story is told in simple words without a lot of detail. For example, the house where the girl lived in Russia is described as “a house where kids who did not have parents lived together.” McFadden’s spina bifida is defined as “her legs did not support her.” The story follows the young woman as she finds her own way of competing in sports, all the way to the Paralympic games where she won several medals, cheered on by her two adoptive moms and her birth mother in Russia. The illustrations are bright and full of action, and the tone of the story is upbeat and positive. The fairy-tale motif offers a kid-friendly view of a larger-than-life figure, while also emphasizing her human side. Back matter includes a page filled with medals that invites kids to give themselves a medal every time they do something their own way.
VERDICT A great introduction to an accomplished athlete that also showcases a nontraditional family; this work will empower kids.

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