Through the Looking Glass Children's Book Reviews

Wilma Rudolph

Wilma Rudolph

Victoria Sherrow
Illustrator:  Larry Johnson 
For ages 7 to 9
Carolrhoda Books, 2000   ISBN: 978-1575054421

When little Wilma Rudolph was four years old she got polio. In America, in the mid 1940s, there wasn't much that doctors could do to help children who got this dread disease. Wilma's left leg was crooked after the disease had passed, and twice every week for many years she had to get on a bus to travel fifty miles to a hospital in Nashville for physical therapy. The therapy was painful, but Wilma bravely bore it because she wanted to be able to walk and run like other children.

At last, when she was seven, Wilma began to be able to walk again, and when she was twelve she was finally able to take off her leg brace for good. It was a big day in her life. Soon after, Wilma began to play basketball with the high school team, and she was so fast on the court that her coach called her "Skeeter" because she buzzed around like a mosquito.

At one of her games Wilma's speed on the court was noticed by a college track coach. He told her that he thought Wilma had what it took to become a very good runner. Little did he or Wilma know how far Wilma would go.

This is a well written and easy to follow biography for young children. We read about Wilma's story, and the narrative also gives emphasis to the fact that in Wilma's world at that time it was very hard for an African American woman to make a name for herself. Wilma did not let the racism stop her though, and she became one of the most famous women runners of all time.