Logo Title Quebec Reading Connection

Nadia: The Girl Who Couldn’t Sit Still

Gray, Karlin (Author)
Davenier, Christine (Illustrator)
Houghton Mifflin Harcourt 2015. 36 pages
First published: 2015
ISBN: 9780544319608 (hardcover)
9780544866843 (e-book)
Original language: English
Dewey: 796.44
Book type: Non-Fiction
Book genre: Biography

Text Elements:

character, layout, multimodal, setting

Reading Range

 
Cycle
Elementary
Secondary
 
1
2
3
1
2
ELA
K
1
2
3
4
5
6
1
2
3
4
5
ESL
1
2
3
4
5
6
1
2
3
4
5
ESL Intensive & Enriched
5
6
1
2
3
4
5

Description:

This picture book biography is an exuberant celebration of record-breaking gymnast Nadia Comaneci: from the girl who drove her parents crazy by never sitting still, to being spotted at age 6 and selected for a Romanian gymnastics school, where she channelled her energy toward eventually becoming an Olympic star in 1976.

Told with warmth, in a lively narrative voice, there is never a dry or dull moment as we learn about her young antics: “Nadia Comaneci was a feisty and fearless little girl. Once she got into trouble for trying on a pair of roller skates in a store … and skating right out of the building.” The exciting journey continues as Nadia is confronted with failure, but never gives up. The description of her receiving what looks like a 1:00—the lowest score in the Olympic games—then discovering she has been given perfect 10:00s, is truly thrilling.

Watercolour, ink and pencil illustrations are full of energy, with black swishes of motion as Nadia leaps, spins and flies through the air. Lovely rich tones of the colour palette and looseness of the line add to the feeling of momentum in the story. One image of Nadia on the beam shows her in five sequential poses, capturing a sense of having watched her perform the routine right before our very eyes.

An afterword, with a timeline, bibliography and selected websites, prompts further exploration. Nadia’s story is an inspiring tribute to success through hard work and application, with a wonderful real-life female heroine at its centre.

  •  

    Discuss what gymnasts do and what it takes to be a world class gymnast. Can anyone be a gymnast of this calibre?

  •  

    Nadia’s story is about energy and movement. Make a list of the action words used to describe her gymnastics movements. In teams of two, act out the various movements.

  •  

    To become a world champion gymnast, Nadia Comaneci had to have a unique character. Draw key moments in the story that reveal the unique traits that she would need to achieve such a high level of success. Under each drawing, write one or two descriptive words about her.

  •  

    Discuss what you know about gymnastics. How does someone become a high calibre gymnast?

  •  

    After the story is read aloud, draw a mind map with a partner. Highlight the moments where Nadia shows the traits that are essential to becoming a champion. Compare your map with another group to complete the information.

  •  

    Nadia’s story is about energy and movement. Make a list of the action words that are used to describe her gymnastics movements. In teams of two, act out the various movements.

  •  

    With a partner, discuss the two following questions: What does it take to compete in the Olympics? What does it take to be the best in the world at a sport? Were your answers mostly similar? What is the biggest difference between being the best in the world and being a competitor among the best?

  •  As you read, look for habits or things Nadia did that you believe contributed to her stellar Olympic performance.
  •  

    Choose any (five) pages with illustrations of Nadia and, using the first person, write what she is thinking for each page.

  • To construct his/her identity
  • To use information
  • Health and Well-Being
  • Dance
  • Personal Development
  • Physical Education and Health