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Review of Game Changers: The Story of Venus and Serena Williams

Game Changers: The Story of Venus and Serena Williams
by Lesa Cline-Ransome; illus. by James E. Ransome
Primary, Intermediate    Wiseman/Simon    48 pp.
7/18    978-1-4814-7684-3    $17.99
e-book ed.  978-1-4814-7685-0    $10.99

Wife-and-husband team Cline-Ransome and Ransome celebrate tennis superstars Venus and Serena Williams, focusing on their formative childhoods and the way their preparation and talent fundamentally changed the game. Cline-Ransome’s chronological account begins with the sisters’ pre-dawn practices in Compton, California, sweeping the public courts of garbage and broken glass before applying themselves with phenomenal dedication (“By the time Venus was four she could hit five hundred tennis balls at every practice”; “When gunshots rang out in the distance, [their father] Richard reminded them, ‘Never mind the noise. Just play’”). As they grow and improve, moving from their family’s private coaching to the professional tour, they become the dominant force in women’s tennis and find themselves playing against each other with increasing frequency. Ransome’s detailed collages reflect this shift. Early illustrations show the girls close together, dressed in like colors with similar hairstyles. As the story progresses, the sisters are positioned apart, wearing different colors, until as young women they find themselves on opposite sides of the net, their separation emphasized by the book’s low, wide trim size. The final spread, showing them on the same side of the net, holding hands, after Serena bested Venus in the 2002 French Open, communicates the sisters’ ultimate devotion to each other. Thorough back matter — including an afterword, source notes, a selected bibliography, and further reading — 
is appended.

From the July/August 2018 issue of The Horn Book Magazine: Special Issue: ALA Awards.

Thom Barthelmess About Thom Barthelmess

Thom Barthelmess is Youth Services Manager for the Whatcom County Library System in northwest Washington State.

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