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Perseverance, ‘concentration’ aided sisters’ ascent

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“Sisters” by Jeanette Winter

c.2019, Beach Lane Books / Simon & Schuster

$17.99 / $23.99 Canada

48 pages

You caught it!

The ball was thrown very high — so high that you lost it in the sky for a minute — and you weren’t sure how you’d do it, but your hands were out and you caught it. Just. Like. That. Some balls are meant to be thrown or batted, while some are meant to bounce. In the new book “Sisters” by Jeanette Winter, you’ll learn about two girls who don’t just hit a ball, they smash it.

Ever since they were babies, Venus and Serena were very close.

They slept in the same bed, enjoyed the same books, and got up at the same time every morning, even though it was still dark sometimes. That’s because their Mama and Daddy wanted their two youngest daughters to learn to play tennis so they could have a better future.

Each morning started with clean-up because the local tennis court was always littered. After clean-up, it was time for practice with equipment that was old and used. Venus and Serena served and volleyed, chased balls, and hit forehand and backhand, forehand and backhand while their Daddy reminded them to “Concentrate.”

Pretty soon, the girls could ignore the gunfire down the block. They could forget about the trash on the tennis court, and the fact that their equipment was old and used-up, and that there was still homework to be done. They started to get really good at tennis and they started gaining respect from the kids in the neighborhood, from people around the country, and from folks who wanted to help.

With respect came new equipment and invitations to tournaments. Venus would win her game, then Serena would win, and they’d concentrate on winning again and again. Venus would cheer when Serena was on the court, and Serena would cheer when Venus was on the court. As the girls grew into better tennis players, they grew into women with fashion sense and power, too. And when it was time for Venus and Serena to play one another on the court, they did it just like they did everything else all their lives: together.

Let’s face it: when it comes to the lives of Serena and Venus Williams, there’s really not much left to publicly tell. Certainly, author Jeanette Winter doesn’t share anything new in “Sisters,” so why would your child want this book?

Two words: the artwork.

Even if your child can’t read the words inside “Sisters,” she’ll be able to tell the story because Winter’s vivid illustrations carefully follow the words, and then some: the telling of the tale is in the art but, more so than with many picture books, backgrounds matter. There’s graffiti behind the characters on one page, tough boys hiding in another, and a definite sense that the Williams sisters didn’t come from lives of luxury.

That gives browsing 3-to-8-year-olds a subtle sense of why this book, and it should give parents comfort that their children are learning about perseverance and “concentrat­ion.” For that, “Sisters” is a book you’ll want to catch.

Posted 12:00 am, April 4, 2019
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