Touch the Sky

Alice Coachman, Olympic High Jumper

This post is part of Nonfiction Monday hosted today by
The Flatt Perspective
and joins It's Monday! What are you reading? at Teacher Mentor Texts

(pub. 12.1.2011) 32 pages 

A True Tale with A Cherry On Top

A uthor: Ann Malaspina
     and Illustrator:  Eric Velasquez

haracter: Alice Coachman

O verview from the jacket flap: 

      "In Alice Coachman's Georgia hometown, there was no field where an African-American girl could do the high jump, so she made her own crossbar with sticks and rags. After seeing her jump at a meet, Coach Cleve Abbott asked Alice to join the Tuskegee Institute's famous Golden Tigerettes. Soon she was winning many medals. But Alice still had a big dream - to compete at the Olympics. No African-American woman had ever won an Olympic Gold.
       At the London Olympics in 1948, Alice was ready to make history.
        Ann Malaspina's lyrical free-verse biography will inspire young readers. Eric Velasquez's stunning paintings bring this remarkable athlete to life."
T antalizing taste: 

           "One day a man came by
             to collect the rent. 
             He saw Alice, 
             bare feet flying
             long legs spinning, 
             braids flapping,
             in the yard.
             'Evelyn, that gal's gonna
             jump over the moon
             one of these days,'
             he said to Momma.

             The moon was so far
             from Albany, where
             Momma saved pennies
             because there weren't 
             ever enough.
             But a dream
             is a beginning,
             and as Alice grew older,
             her dream was to soar."
and something more: Ann Malaspina's Author's Note in Touch the Sky explains that Alice Coachman became a "celebrity back home. When Alice's train pulled into Atlanta, Georgia, [she] rode in a motorcade across the state to Albany... Crowds lined the road to catch a glimpse of Georgia's Olympic champion... Fancy floats lined up to greet her in Albany. The parade ended at the Albany municipal Auditorium where a grand ceremony had been arranged. Never before had Albany honored one of its black citizens, but some things hadn't changed. Alice saw the audience was divided by race - blacks sitting on one side, white on the other. She wasn't invited to speak. Still, as an Olympic champion, Alice always held her head high."
          About 50 years later, she was elected to the United States Olympic Hall of Fame, and named one of the one hundred best athletes in Olympic history. "Her dream was to soar," and she did!
           I was interested to learn that Ann's dedication is not only to her parents, Alice Coachman and her son, Richmond Davis, but also "to the Society of Children's Book Writers and Illustrators for a generous research grant for this book." Bravo to SCBWI -- my favorite writers' organization!


Tara @ A Teaching Life said...

Loved this book!

GatheringBooks said...

Another beautiful picture book biography, Jeanne! I would definitely look for this one. What a tantalizing taste indeed. :) Female athletes - we don't have a lot of those, I'm glad to know about this book.

Jeanne Walker Harvey said...

Thanks Tara and Myra! Yes, it's great to see a picture book biography focusing on a female athlete and one who overcame so much.

Unknown said...

This sounds like a great story. The free verse is beautiful. Thanks for sharing this with the Nonfiction Monday round-up. And SCBWI is my favorite writer's organization too.

Jeanne Walker Harvey said...

Thanks, Lizann, for stopping by and hosting Nonfiction Monday. I enjoyed learning about your books. Here's to SCBWI!