Kathleen Krull certainly has the knack when it comes to writing picture book biographies. And Wilma Unlimited: How Wilma Rudolph Became the World's Fastest Woman is just another feather in the cap of this amazing author.
Wilma Rudolph was born in 1940 in Tennessee and had nineteen siblings! Unfortunately, Rudolph was an energetic child, but constantly fell ill. She contracted polio just before her 5th birthday. She was expected to never walk again, but they couldn't hold this determined girl down. Rudolph persevered and by the time she was 12, she ditched her steel brace and was leading her high school basketball team to the finals. Rudolph was later recruited into Tennessee State University's track and field team on a full scholarship. Eight years after ditching her steel brace, Rudolph was running for the U.S. in the 1960 Olympics in Rome (with a twisted ankle), becoming the first American woman to win three gold medals during a single Olympic competition.
The illustrations by Diaz in acrylic, watercolor and gouache, have a unique, stunning Picasso-ish feel. The paintings have a cubist feel and are backed on sepia photographs.
This is an amazing story that will inspire and give you the chills. As you watch Rudolph transform from a sickly girl into a strong woman, standing tall, you'll know you're reading the biography of one of the world's greatest track stars.
Author: Kathleen Krull
Illustrator: David Diaz
Reading level: Ages 9-12
Paperback: 44 pages
Publisher: Sandpiper (February 1, 2000)