I Am a Skater: Young Dreamers

by Jane Feldman

Random House, January, 2002.
Picture Book, 48 pages.
ISBN: 0375802568
Ages 9-12

I Am a Skater: Young Dreamers by Jane Feldman Random House Children's Books has initiated a most interesting series entitled Young Dreamers, which should be very appealing to the elementary school age student. I Am a Skater should be especially interesting to this age group because it chronicles the everyday life of twelve year old Emily Hughes who has been skating since the age of three. I Am a Skater is put together in scrapbook form, such as many twelve year old students may already be keeping. The importance of books such as the Young Dreamers series is in giving a young person real facts about what other people of the same age are doing. It is important for this age group to realize that success begins early, and that it does not just happen. Success follows years of dedication and focus, and the earlier one starts, the more likely success will be. After the stunning gold-medal winning performance of Emily's older sister, Sarah, at the 2002 Winter Olympics, the story of how a skater lives should be of especial interest to young readers who dream of skating their way to fame.

The everyday life of a young person who has chosen a certain path of endeavor can be both alike and different from that of the average sixth grade student. Emily attends middle school and is in the sixth grade, where her favorite subjects are math and Spanish. The difference in her life from that of the average sixth grade student lies in the fact that she is up at six on Tuesdays and Fridays to get in some practice before school opens. In addition, she practices every day at the ice rink. Emily has already been in an international competition in Denmark where she was able to compete with skaters from all over the world. Other pictures show the custom made skates and costumes that must be fitted, and the special gym workouts that develop flexibility and strength. Ballet lessons are important too, because they not only help with extension, they improve the artistry that makes the difference between just an athletic performance and an award winning performance. Music is also shown to be a help to a young skater, because understanding music improves a skater's overall performance. When a young reader reads about the very different life of a young skater, one hopes that the reader will begin to plan a more interesting after school life than they have followed before. The most inspiring photos may be the photographs of Emily with famous professional skaters and the exciting photographs that Ms. Feldman has taken of both performances as well as the candid photographs of skating positions and accidents.

Ms. Feldman is a gifted photographer who combines photographs and commentary to tell a fascinating story of the life of a young skater. Without preaching, she tells about the dedication and sometimes the pain of making a choice. The largely scrapbook formula of pictures with captions underneath, sometimes placed at angles or overlapping, gives a friendly format that invites the reader to sit down and experience a life that is far from average for twelve year olds.

--Sarah Reaves White

I Am a Skater: Young Dreamers is available for purchase on Amazon.com

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This review was published in the March, 2002 of The Internet Writing Journal.

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