The Story of Olympic Diver Sammy Lee

Lee & Low. (Story of). Feb. 2020. 80p. pap. $9.95. ISBN 9781643790145.
Gr 3-6–Blending the inspiring story of Olympic diver Sammy Lee with the history of Asian Americans in the United States and diving as an Olympic sport, Yoo packs much into a slim volume. The book follows Lee’s journey from his early curiosity about diving to his determination to become an Olympic champion. Throughout his school years, he struggled to balance schoolwork with his burgeoning success as a young diver. Lee, who wanted to make his father proud by becoming a doctor, made time for both diving and studying. When the outbreak of World War II canceled the Olympics in 1940, Lee thought his Olympic dreams were crushed. Later, the death of his father motivated him to attend a U.S. Army Medical training program. Ultimately, Lee became a successful doctor, a gold medalist in the Olympic Games, and a diving coach. In-depth sidebars interspersed throughout offer information on diving, a brief overview of how and why Koreans immigrated to the States, facts about the Asian American population in California, and the career of diver Greg Louganis (whom Lee coached for the 1976 Olympics). Yoo’s prose is ideal for middle graders, providing an ideal amount of information to attract and hold their attention. The unique and evocative art, created with a combination of painting and scratching details in encaustic wax, elevates the text. A time line, a glossary, and an extensive source list are appended.
VERDICT An appealing addition to biography collections.

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