CM . . . .
Volume VII Number 4 . . . . October 20, 2000
To everyone's surprise, Tara beat reigning World champion Michelle Kwan once again, taking home the World Championship gold medal. And once again, Tara added her name to the figure skating history books. At only fourteen years and nine months old, Tara beat the record set by Sonja Henie in 1927. Henie, at fourteen years and ten months old, was once the youngest champion in World Championship history. Now the record belonged to tiny Tara Lipinski.Using information gleaned from magazine articles, newspaper clippings and the Internet (including Lipinski's own website), Karpenko attempts to fill 86 pages with interesting anecdotes. But this task proves difficult due to Lipinski's relatively short skating career, her young age and her decision to turn pro at age fifteen. The book, beginning with a fact sheet of career highlights from 1985-1999, is divided into six chapters, with topics ranging from Tara's birth and her early skating years to her quest for Olympic gold. It will especially appeal to young girls who participate in figure skating and share Tara's love of the sport. The author focuses on the sacrifices involved in Lipinski's path to the Olympics: her parents having to live apart so that Tara could be closer to her coach, Tara's early morning skating practice, and her lack of a "normal" teen life. Karpenko also describes Tara's feisty nature and her tremendous determination and drive. Some of the chapters, however, are just fillers. In "The Dark Side of Figure Skating," for example, Karpenko devotes three pages to the rise and fall of Oksana Baiul, several more to athletes in other sports, such as tennis and gymnastics, and two pages to the soap opera on ice starring Nancy Kerrigan and Tonya Harding. In the following chapter, entitled "Skating - the Early Years," the author gives a history of figure skating, devoting four pages to Sonja Henie. On the plus side, this book gives readers a closer look at Olympic skating competition, specifically the 1998 Nagano games, and the many tough decisions and emotional moments faced by one of the games' brightest stars. What comes forth in the book is the message that, with hard work, determination and a positive attitude, anything is possible (a strong, inspirational message for young girls!). The text reads very much like a magazine article, with plenty of quotes and some personal facts (e.g. Tara collects Beanie Babies, and fans used to throw them onto the ice instead of flowers after Tara's performances). A glossary of figure skating terms and a list of research sources are also included. Four black-and-white photographs of Tara appear in the middle of the book.
Recommended with reservations.
Gail Hamilton is a teacher-librarian at Bird's hill School in East St. Paul, MB.
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