Whenever words come to me in the middle of the night, I embrace them. I get up, grab the notepad from my nightstand, and scribble everything down fast.
For FLYING HIGH: The Story of Gymnastics Champion Simone Biles, I was immersed in research about Simone’s life for several months. And one night, these words came to me: “Tip, top, trampoline, jump toward the sky, one little girl wants to fly, fly, fly.”
I love how a few lines in the middle of the night can lead to a book. Atlanta-based illustrator Ebony Glenn did an amazing job capturing Simone’s passion for gymnastics on the cover and on every page.
Here’s a photo of illustrator extraordinaire Ebony Glenn:
Here’s the Tip top trampoline spread below. From a young age, Simone was fascinated with trampolines and the feeling of flying through the air. The words “Tip, top” make me think of the joy of a child discovering a trampoline for the first time and climbing up on it.
My goal was to convey the story of the world’s greatest gymnast in an accessible way that very young children can understand – showing them how Simone Biles overcame challenges, made sacrifices, and followed her dreams with courage and grace.
In addition to celebrating Simone’s beauty and talent, I especially wanted to highlight the special connections that helped shape her life. This includes the relationship with her supportive family and her relationship with Coach Aimee Boorman – she was remarkably influential and acted as Simone’s main coach through the 2016 Olympics.
Among my favorite FLYING HIGH reviews so far:
“The story does not dwell on the negatives but emphasizes how each obstacle was overcome through family support and hard work…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.”
—School Library Journal
These cute 2nd graders in Ohio got an early look and gave FLYING HIGH a thumbs up. This means the world to me. I write for them (and their stuffed animals)!
I got a special treat when the hard copy of FLYING HIGH arrived on my doorstep. The hard copy emanates light. Okay, that might be a bit dramatic. But the cover definitely sparkles and shimmers! I’m grateful for all the hard work and teamwork that went into this project.
FLYING HIGH: The Story of Gymnastics Champion Simone Biles will be released on December 29, 2020 by Holt/Macmillan. Ready to tumble (and fly)? Let’s go, let’s go!
For a chance to win an advance reader copy of FLYING HIGH signed by me, leave a comment by November 16. I’ll announce the randomly selected winner in my December post.
Congratulations to Sherri Delgado Preston for winning a copy of I BELIEVE I CAN from my last post.
Happy reading to all & see you next time!