Martina & Chrissie: The Greatest Rivalry in the History of Sports

illus. by Brett Helquist. 40p. bibliog. chron. websites. Candlewick. Mar. 2017. Tr $16.99. ISBN 9780763673086.
Gr 2–5—Nonfiction tennis books for kids are in general in short supply, and so are retellings of powerful true rivalries between star players of any sport. Bildner offers kids both in this picture book biography of Martina Navratilova and Chris "Chrissie" Evert. Each woman's story begins in childhood, gently and with minimal text. The book becomes more interesting when the author notes that these two intense rivals were good friends from their first meeting and that each still fought hard to beat the other on the court. They both pushed to be the very best, and then they relaxed together—except for a few years when Navratilova had a coach who wouldn't allow her to be friends with a rival. They met in the finals of the French Open twice, intense duels that Evert won; Navratilova decided then that friendship was more important—and to this day they remain close friends who support each other's off-court charity work. Though Evert and Navratilova are long retired and largely unknown to most kids, their tale imparts a timely moral: friendship and kindness are what matter most. That said, this is likely a shelf-sitter despite a good narrative, strong illustrations, and great factual support that includes a bibliography for students doing reports.
VERDICT Though a quality selection for students who need role models and for tennis players seeking idols to emulate, this title will require some handselling on the part of librarians.

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