The Golden Girls of Rio

illus. by Nikkolas Smith. 32p. ebook available. Sky Pony. Nov. 2016. Tr $16.99. ISBN 9781510722477.
Gr 3–5—Girls all over the world were captivated and inspired by the performance of Simone Biles, Katie Ledecky, Michelle Carter, and Simone Manuel during the 2016 Olympic Games in Rio, Brazil. These athletes showed the world what big dreams, hard work, and determination can accomplish. Smith follows these amazing gymnasts from childhood dreams to winning the gold at the Rio games. While there were numerous women who competed at the Olympics, this title focuses primarily on Manuel, the first African American woman to win a medal in an individual swimming event; Biles, the most decorated American gymnast of all time; Carter, the first American woman to win a gold medal in shot put; and Ledecky, world record holder in multiple swimming events. Smith's striking illustrations are simple but bold and perfectly reflect his artistic background as a concept artist at Walt Disney Imagineering. Unfortunately, the actual text is not nearly as outstanding and detracts from the overall quality of the work. The narrative does not flow and is often choppy as Smith moves from one girl's story to the next. In addition, the ending feels rushed and unfinished.
VERDICT While the subject matter may be in demand, this is at best an additional purchase.

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