Flying High: The Story of Gymnastics Champion Simone Biles (Who Did It First?)

flying high simone biles

A lyrical picture book biography of Simone Biles, gymnastics champion and Olympic superstar.

Before she was a record-breaking gymnast competing on the world stage, Simone Biles spent time in foster care as a young child. Nimble and boundlessly energetic, she cherished every playground and each new backyard.

When she was six years old, Simone's family took shape in a different way. Her grandparents Ron and Nellie Biles adopted Simone and her sister Adria. Ron and Nellie became their parents. Simone was also introduced to gymnastics that same year, launching a lifelong passion fueled by remarkable talent, sacrifice, and the undying support of her family.

From her athletic early childhood to the height of her success as an Olympic champion, Flying High is the story of the world's greatest gymnast from author Michelle Meadows and illustrator Ebony Glenn.---from the publisher

40 pages                            978-1250205667                       Ages 4-8

Keywords:  biography, gymnastics, girls and women, African American, Black Lives Matter, diversity, diverse books, overcoming adversity, overcoming obstacles, sports, grandparents, perseverance, sacrifice, courage, grit, foster child, Olympics, 4 year old, 5 year old, 6 year old, 7 year old, 8 year old, 9 year old

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PreS-Gr 3–This picture book biography of elite gymnast Simone Biles follows a pattern of setbacks and triumphs. Readers see the uncertainty of Biles’s first childhood home, then watch as Biles and her three siblings are placed in a foster home, get separated, and are eventually adopted by their biological grandparents.

A canceled field trip resulted in her first visit to a gymnastics facility; the disappointment of missing the cutoff for the national team fueled the efforts that led to her Olympic fame. The story does not dwell on the negatives but emphasizes how each obstacle was overcome through family support and hard work.

Gymnastics terms, such as vault, bars, and beam, are introduced and the rhythm of the rhyming text reflects Biles’s energy and movement. Glenn’s illustrations portray the athlete at various ages; she tumbles through the house and later perfects her competitive moves. The artwork captures the power and poise of gymnastics as well as the emotions of each scene. One dynamic spread depicts “the Biles” signature floor move as she flips through the air.

Back matter includes photos, sources, facts (height, birthday), and important milestones in the Olympics and International Gymnastics Federation.

VERDICT A good addition to the biography section and an excellent book to hand to readers always asking for gymnastics titles.

Recommended by:  Suzanne Costner, Librarian, Tennessee USA

See more of her recommendations:  https://fveslibrary.blogspot.com/

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