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Sixteen Years in Sixteen Seconds


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About the Author

PAULA YOO is an author and screenwriter whose children's books for Lee & Low include Sixteen Years in Sixteen Seconds, Shining Star, and several titles in the Confetti Kids series. Her titles have been recognized by the International Reading Association, the Texas Bluebonnet Award Masterlist, and Lee & Low's New Voices Award. She and her husband live in Los Angeles, California, where she works in television. You can visit her online at DOM LEE made his picture-book debut with Baseball Saved Us. He grew up in Seoul, South Korea, and went on to illustrate books in both the United States and Korea. His titles for Lee & Low include Ken Mochizuki's Passage to Freedom and Heroes, as well as the award-winning Sixteen Years in Sixteen Seconds. Lee's unique illustration style involves applying encaustic beeswax on paper, then scratching out images, and finally coloring the images with oil paint. Lee and his wife live in Hollis, New York.


K-Gr 3-This inspirational biography recognizes the life of the first Asian American to win an Olympic gold medal, at the 1948 Games in London. Even though he grew up in California when "people of color" were only allowed to use the public swimming pools one day a week, Lee was never discouraged from his dream. In college, he made an agreement with his father that he would keep good enough grades to enter medical school, but continue to enter diving competitions. Yoo brings the biography to a dramatic conclusion with the 16 seconds of a three-and-a-half somersault dive. Lee's painterly illustrations give texture and depth to the full-page spreads. More than a story about discrimination and unfair treatment, this story shows one young man's determination and resolve toward accomplishing a goal in life.-Blair Christolon, Prince William Public Library System, Manassas, VA Copyright 2005 Reed Business Information.

Yoo debuts with an inspiring tribute to the first Asian-American to win an Olympic gold medal, in 1948. The story begins when Sammy is 12 years old in 1932 California and documents his struggle to reach the top of the diving world. The son of Korean immigrants, he is not allowed to swim at the public pool except on Wednesdays, "when people of color were allowed to go inside." The straightforward, somewhat lengthy account chronicles how Sammy trains by diving into a sandpit the other days of the week-which leads to a fortuitous decision to enroll in gymnastics to help him with his sand landings-finds, a coach, and makes peace with his father, who urges Sammy to forgo his Olympic dream in favor of becoming a doctor. Third-person omniscient narration grants readers access to Sammy's thoughts and feelings. As he prepares for his gold-medal dive, "He heard the sound of water lapping against the sides of the pool, the murmuring of the people, the beating of his heart." Lee's (Baseball Saved Us) sepia-tinged textured illustrations, made by scratching images out of wax melted over acrylic paints, lend a graceful, respectful tone to the story. Especially noteworthy are three vertical panels depicting his winning dive (an echo of an early three-panel spread that shows one of Sammy's awkward first diving attempts). Touching on themes of discrimination and determination, this motivational tale concludes with an author's note that provides details about Sammy's post-Olympic life. Ages 6-up. (Apr.) Copyright 2005 Reed Business Information.

Handsomely illustrated and compassionately written without sentimentality, this picture book biography exemplifies what this genre should be: humanizing and meaningful. . . . This hero's inspirational story demonstrates determination and dedication by a man who never gave up and is still an active athlete today at the age of 84. -- Children's Reviewer "Kirkus Reviews"
The minimal, well-shaped language focuses on facts. . . . Washed in nostalgic, sepia tones, Dom Lee's acrylic-and-wax, textured illustrations are reminiscent of his fine work in Ken Mochizuki's watershed Baseball Saved Us (1993), and like Yoo's understated words, the uncluttered images leave a deep impact. -- Children's Reviewer "Booklist"

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