Wednesday, March 29, 2017

Martina & Chrissie: The Greatest Rivalry in the History of Sports, by Phil Bildner (ages 6-10)

Do rivals need to be enemies, or can friends compete and support each other? As our political leaders in Washington struggle with their dysfunctional rivalries, I think we must strive to look for other role models of constructive competition.

I love the new informational picture book Martina & Chrissie for its vibrant, exciting look at two sports rivals who pushed each other and were also very good friends.
Martina & Chrissie: The Greatest Rival in the History of Sports
by Phil Bildner
illustrated by Brett Helquist
Candlewick, 2017
Amazon / Your local library
ages 6-10
*best new book*
In one way, you can read this picture book as a typical sports biography that traces Martina & Chrissie's childhoods and rise to fame. On the other hand, you can read it as a persuasive story--where Bildner is challenging you to think about what makes a great (as in best) rivalry, and why these two women deserve top billing.

Martina Navratilova and Chris Evert rocked the tennis world from the mid-1970’s till 1990. Evert was a focused tennis champ who achieved fame as a teenager. On the court, she was determined and fierce. Martina Navratilova grew up in Czechoslovakia and was also a teenage national champion; however, her style of play was very different. Where Chrissie was calm, Martina was super-charged with emotion. While Chrissie won many of their early matches, Martina improved her play and began beating Chrissie.

Bildner creates excitement throughout the story, building tension the way a sports commentator does.
"Martina had this lefty serve that was wicked, wicked. And she loved to rush the net: serve and volley, seve and volley, serve and volley.
Guys, Martina OWNED the net."
Combine this with Helquist's up-close illustrations, and readers are drawn right into the play-by-play excitement of a tennis match.

This book rises above many picture book biographies because the author's message is so clear and persuasive. Martina & Chrissie "weren't the type of women who did what they were supposed to do." They were good friends who practiced together, but they were also intense rivals. By supporting and challenging each other, they made each other better players.

To learn more, check out these reviews and resources:
The review copy was kindly sent by the publisher, Candlewick. If you make a purchase using the Amazon links on this site, a small portion goes to Great Kid Books. Thank you for your support.

©2017 Mary Ann Scheuer, Great Kid Books

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