Monday, January 6, 2014

A cool read for figure skating fans

With the Winter Olympics coming up in February, the middle-grade girl in your life might happen to be looking for a light, fun, romantic novel about ice skating. Scholastic has just the thing.



Gold Medal Winter by Donna Freitas (January 7, 2014, Arthur A. Levine Books/Scholastic, for ages 10 to 14).

Source: ARC courtesy of the publisher

Synopsis (from the publisher): Go gold or go home! After years of early morning training and more jumps than she can count, Esperanza's dream of figure skating for the United States is coming true at last! But with the excitement of an Olympic slot comes new attention and big distractions.

Suddenly Espi can't go out with her friends, or even out her back door, without reporters and autograph-seekers following her every move. Her new teammates have a lot more international experience, and they let Espi know that they don't think she's ready. Hunter Wills, the men's figure skating champion, seems to be flirting with her, even as the press matches her up with Danny Morrison, the youngest — and maybe cutest — member of the U.S. hockey team.
In the midst of all this, Espi is trying to master an impossible secret jump that just might be her key to a medal. Can she focus enough to shut out the drama, find her edge over the competition, and make the Olympics as golden as her dreams?
Why I recommend it: A big plus here is the multicultural main character (Esperanza's mother is Dominican, and the name Esperanza means "hope" so there's plenty of talk about Espi being America's hope for Gold), plus her coach is Lucy Chen, and one of Espi's best friends is African-American, so multiculturalism abounds.  
This is a breezy and enjoyable read, with plenty of tension and a lot of interesting inside information about the Olympics. I appreciated the quotes from famous skaters like Michelle Kwan and Katarina Witt. Tween girls will devour this not just for the skating and Espi's clash with the "mean girls" of Team USA, but also for the romance, which is squeaky clean. I found it a little hard to believe that a girl training hard for the Olympics would have time to even think about boys, but the author is a former teen athlete herself, having participated in competitive gymnastics for seven years. 
She also, wisely perhaps, never mentions Sochi, Russia, only a seaside town nestled at the foot of snowy mountains. Politics aside, this means the book would still be appropriate for the next Winter Olympics in 2018 or anytime, really, for anyone interested in figure skating.

You might also enjoy: Gold Medal Summer by Donna Freitas (2012, Arthur A. Levine/Scholastic, for ages 10 to 14)

Readers, will you be watching the Winter Olympics in February? What's your favorite Olympic sport?

20 comments:

  1. Sounds like a great book not only for skaters but also kids who compete in other sports. Thanks so much for sharing this.

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    1. You're welcome. Happy New Year, Natalie!

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  2. I've never read a book of this kind before and I will be checking it out (mostly for the diversity aspect).
    Thanks for another unique feature, Joanne! :)

    ~Akoss

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  3. I wish this had been written when I was a girl! Not that I won't enjoy it now, but it would have been perfect for the 11-year-old me.

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    1. Exactly, Barbara! I'm sure my 11-year-old self would have adored this.

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  4. Thanks for telling me about this one. I hadn't heard of it.

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  5. I didn't even realize the Olympics were coming up! Now I'll have to try and watch them--I do so love the ice skating! And this book looks delightful, so thanks for the recommend. :D

    --Suzanne Warr
    www.suzannewarr.com

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    1. I love the ice skating too, Suzanne! And you're welcome.

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  6. Yay for more diverse characters! This sounds like a story many 5th and 6th graders would enjoy...I know I would have.

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    1. Me too, Andrea, when I was in those grades. It's definitely older MG, with the hint of romance, but fine for younger readers also.

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  7. Interesting. :) I think my sister would like this - me, not too much into the romance thing. ;)

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    1. Ha ha, Erik! That's okay. But thanks for stopping by.

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  8. Sounds like fun! Figure skating has always been my favorite Olympic sport to watch.

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  9. Great recommendation, thanks! I loved Kate Messner's Sugar and Ice, and I bet I'd love this one, too. Ice skating is one of my favorites Winter Games sports to watch. I also like watching the downhill ski events. By the way, you were totally right over at Faith's blog about Fern from Charlotte's Web being the younger sibling~ no idea why my brain slipped on that~ it's one of my favorite books :)

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    1. Ooo, I haven't read Sugar and Ice. Thanks for the reminder, Jess. And yes to downhill skiing; exciting stuff!

      No worries about Fern being the younger sibling. It's easy to think she's older when she's so much more reserved than Avery!

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  10. Thanks for featuring this. I'm sure this is something I'd enjoy. Even my students would like it.

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  11. I loved reading this, but I won't be watching the Olympics! I love the covers on these as well.

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