Wilma Unlimited: How Wilma Rudolph Became the World's Fastest Woman

by Kathleen Krull

Paperback, 2000




HMH Books for Young Readers (2000), Edition: First, 44 pages


A biography of the African-American woman who overcame crippling polio as a child to become the first woman to win three gold medals in track in a single Olympics.


(102 ratings; 4.3)

User reviews

LibraryThing member afmteacher
The illustrations to this text by David Diaz make this a “must have” biography about the indomitable spirit of athlete Wilma Rudolph – the first woman from the United States to win three gold medals at one Olympics. Both the illustrations and text set a standard for biographies that is tough
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to beat.
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LibraryThing member Sclarke23
Wilma Rudolph was an energetic young girl with nineteen brothers and sisters in clarksville, Tennesse. She would jump and run from a veery young age. she didn't let the fact that she had polio put her down.She set her mind that she will run one day even though her left leg is paralyzed but she did
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mmore than run, she goes to the olympics.i think that this book is very inspiring for young children. I'd have my class write about how this woman's life has inspired them.
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LibraryThing member conuly
The illustrations are great. The font, though a little difficult to read, matches the pictures and is sure pretty. And the story is inspirational, I guess...

Actually, tell the truth, it's a little *too* inspirational. To read this book, Wilma Randolph did nothing in her life but work hard to
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overcome stuff. Which is inspirational, sure... but she comes out seeming very hard to relate too. As I read about how she successfully overcame being a (poor, black) preemie, and successfully overcame being incredibly sickly, and successfully overcame polio, and successfully overcame racism and sexism (and the continuing effects of her disability)... I start to wonder, did Wilma Rudolph ever have a bad day? Did she never, like the rest of us humans, wake up in a miserable mood and want to crawl under the covers and let somebody else do the work? When she was a child and it hurt to do the exercises to learn to walk again, did she never throw a tantrum? When she was sitting on the sidelines at recess, did she never go home and whine to her mom about how unfair it all was?

Oh, she probably did. But to read this book, you'd think all the limitations she overcame were external - disability and a heap of -isms, that she never had to overcome a grumpy mood or frustration or just plain old-fashioned PMS like us normal folk. It can be a little tiring to read, honestly - none of us is ever going to be as perfect as she's (unrealistically) depicted as being.

I mean, look. Wilma strikes me as a fascinating individual. She did accomplish a lot - and winning the Olympics is an accomplishment in itself, even if you don't do it as an ex-polio kid with a twisted ankle. I just... I wish I could connect to her more as a real person when I read this book. Maybe it'll grow on me.
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LibraryThing member spytel
This is a highly inspirational book and an incredible story (one of those stories where if you didn't know that it was in fact a true story you wouldn't believe anyone could overcome so many obstacles.)
From being a premature baby, to sickly youth, to polio-stricken child denied access to school and
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dealing with racism, to finally being a triple Gold-medal winner in the Olympics (with a swollen ankle), well, you get the idea.
The illustrations are rich and colorful and dynamic. And I like the clever way that body copy was place over images reflective of the text on that page (a visual of the finish line when talking of winning an event, or a visual of a large wheel when discussing traveling miles to get to a hospital that accepted Blacks).
I recommend this book, although I couldn't help visualizing Forest Gump breaking free of his polio braces and racing down the country road. "Run, Wilma, run!"
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LibraryThing member rebecca401
Wilma Rudolph is born into a loving, although poor, family. She is sickly thoroughout her childhood, and polio leaves her crippled. She is determined to overcome her diability, however, and she works through the pain to walk again....to lead her high school girls' basketball team to states...to
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compete in college track and field...and to win 3 gold medals in the Olympics. Additionally, she overcomes discrimination because she is black and because she is a woman. She is a wonderful, strong role model, especially for girls.
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LibraryThing member ktextor
Wilma was born into a family that loves her very much but they are very poor. She becomes sick with polio and was told she was never going to be able to walk. She wants to overcome that and she works hard to walk again. She ends up playing basketball in high school and her team made it all the way
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to the state game! Throughout life she ended up going to the Olympics and won 3 gold medals! This is a great story about overcoming the tough times when it comes to her family, getting sick as well as being a black woman. A great role model for any young girl.
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LibraryThing member ssajj
This is a truly inspirational story about Wilma Randolph, who in her life faced many obstacles. Wilma put in a lot of effort in everything she did and never gave up when she was faced with a challenge. Even when Wilma becomes sick and is diagnosed with Polio and is told that she will never walk
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again, she still does not give up. Her hard work pays off: not only does Wilma walk again, she eventually wins three gold medals in the Olympics.
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LibraryThing member CassieM
Wilma Unlimited is a great book for elementary students. It's a powerful story about one woman's determination to walk again. She faced challenges head on. She believed in her dreams and she worked hard to make those dreams come true. It is important for children to know that if they work hard
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anything is possible.
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LibraryThing member dnati
Wilma Rudolph overcomes many, many physical and other challenges throughout her life and eventually 's becomes the worldsfastest woman! This is a great story of perserverence and determination to be the best you can be.
LibraryThing member mrcmyoung
Excellent. This is the first I've heard of Wilma Rudolph, who overcame poverty, segregation and polio to become a record breaking Olympic medalist. Wilma shows us that we may be born with limits, but we don't have to accept them. Gorgeous illustrations over black and white photography. I loved two
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sections of the book where the pictures told the story without words, especially when Wilma walks down the aisle at church for the first time without her leg brace. I can't wait to share this book with students. Every year.
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LibraryThing member nbmars
Wilma Rudolph, born in 1940, got polio just before she turned five, and doctors did not expect her to walk ever again. She was determined to overcome her handicap, and worked incessantly at leg exercises. By age 20, she was representing the U.S. in the 1960 Olympics in Rome, where, despite a
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twisted ankle, she became the first American woman to win three gold medals during a single Olympic competition. Her story, illustrated with bright colors in a cubist style, is one that will give you a whole new perspective on what can be done to overcome barriers, and yet another demonstration of true courage by a heroic young girl.
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LibraryThing member DayehSensei
This is one of the most inspiring stories I've ever read- and it's all true! This is a great book to read to students during Black History month, during a biography study, during a women's history study, or just anytime. Although there is a generous amount of text, it flows very well- like a
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storybook. The illustrations are vivid and compelling, especially the photographic "frame" images that surround each illustration. Wilma Rudolph herself is an inspiration to us all. I feel like I could use this book to teach lessons for a month-- the themes here can be tied to so many topics and the book is easy on the ears while being jam-packed full of facts.
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LibraryThing member Kathdavis54
I have no idea how, but I have never heard of Wilma Rudolph and her amazing story. Rudolph was a sickly child who eventually contracted polio. Through hard work she overcame the paralysis in her legs.

Kathleen Krull simply, but beautifully tells Rudolph's story. Readers will be amazed at everything
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Rudolph was able to accomplish in her life.
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LibraryThing member stephanie006
This book provides it's readers with descriptive background. She has 19 older brothers and it goes into a detailed biography of her life. It points out how different Wilma is with patterned sentences.
LibraryThing member WRamos
Great book about believing and working hard in ones dreams!
LibraryThing member achatela
Wilma Unlimited is a story by Wilma Rudolph. She was someone who wasn't suppose to live a long life. One day she grew ill and the doctor said she had scarlet fever and had also been stricken with polo. Most people who get polo either die or they never walk again. But this wasn't true for Wilma with
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a lot of hard work and dedication she was able to take the brace off her leg. She attended College on a basketball scholar ship and then went on to win a gold metal in the Olympics. This story shows that with the help of family and lots of dedication you can overcome any obstacle. I really liked this story especially how much Wilma relied on her family for some help
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LibraryThing member KimJD
Born prematurely, Wilma Rudolph seemed destined to remain sickly all her life, and when she contracted polio as a young child, she was told she would never walk again. But walk she did-- her perseverence allowed her over the years to work her way into a brace and then to learn to walk without it,
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and finally to lead her high school basketball team to a championship. Her team may have lost that championship, but she caught the eye of a college recruiter who was impressed with her running skills-- and, as they say, the rest is history. At age 20, Wilma Rudolph went on to compete in the 1960 Olympics in Rome and became the first woman ever to win three gold medals in a single Olympics. Kathleen Krull and David Diaz have created a remarkable picture-book biography that engrosses and inspires students of all ages (and second graders love hearing that after her Olympic career, she became a second grade teacher).
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LibraryThing member CarolinePfrang
The picture book “Wilma Unlimited” is a biography that follows the life of a young Wilma Rudolph who grows up crippled in a poor family when blacks are still being segregated. After hard work and perseverance she learns how to walk and later become an amazing basketball player and finally an
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Olympic gold medal track star. This is a book that is on the 4th and 5th grade level because of its length and harder vocabulary. The main idea of this book shows that even if you have a hard life or a hard time, if you preserve and work very hard for your dreams you can achieve them. This is a great book for children because at this time in their life they are beginning to have dreams and it’s important to teach children that they can achieve those dreams even if it’s not easy. I liked how the author, Kathleen Krull, covered Wilma’s childhood all the way to her college days. I believe that this is a good message to get across because reaching your dreams doesn't happen overnight.
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LibraryThing member nfigue1
Author Kathleen Krull has the ability to capture her audience and intertwine them into the story of Wilma. Readers experience a winding road of emotions as Wilma deals with the challenges of living with polio. Her survival and ability to thrive is even more impressive being in the 1940s, where
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limited health care benefits and medical cures were available. Excitement and energy bounces from page to page. Anticipation haunted me until the very end of Wilma’s roller coaster of experiences. Illustrator, David Diaz, had the ability to pair his action-packed illustrations perfectly with the text. As exhilarating as this text may be, it is also contains meaningful themes; racism, sexism, and prejudice of people with disabilities.
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LibraryThing member nhassa3
This book was a multicultural biography about Wilma Rudolph. This main message was about hard work and perseverance. Wilma was diagnosed with a disease that would not allow her to walk anymore. However, she tried her hardest and worked on her physical abilities everyday. "Wilma rudolph, once known
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as the sickliest child in clarksville, had become the fastest woman in the world." This book was great and I would recommend it to everyone because I learned about someone who I've never heard of before.
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LibraryThing member ajfurman
This book is a great example of a short biography made for kids. This picture book depicts how Wilma Rudolph rose from extreme adversity to becoming a multiple gold medal winner in the Olympics. The story of how she had polio as a child and how that affected who she was truly an inspirational tale.
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She became the first woman to win three gold medals in the Olympics. The pictures are made in a very unique way that demonstrates an imaginative and abstract feel to the book. The picture where Wilma is sitting on the bus paints a vivid picture of how she must have felt as a child. The big picture of this book is to provide example of how determination and effort can be used to overcome things that no one thought possible. Polio was supposed to leave her not being able to run again. It is amazing to think of how far she came.
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LibraryThing member Lisapier
This is a biography of the first American woman to win three gold medals at a single Olympic games. This is a compelling story of how this amazing woman was striken with polio at the age of four and told she would never walk again. It showshow she overcame all these obstacles through hard work and
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grit to write her own place in history. She came from a family of twenty-two children in a town with only one doctor who would treat black people in her small Tennessee town. Her story is one of perserverance and hope. She was the first in her family to attend college, she was a black woman competing in the Olympic games for the United States of America, and she was a polio survivor. This book could launch many units on such topics as overcoming obstacles, parts ofthe the civil rights movement, diseases, and grit.
The language is fairly simple and each page is illustrated. There is minmial figurative language and it could be read in small groups or as a whole class. It also could be a good overview if someone wanted to research Wilma Rudolph in more depth.
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LibraryThing member kmetca1
I like this story because it is a good story of perseverance for students. The story also has many elements of a good children’s story, which make it a good read in the classroom. First, the writing was engaging in the story. The plot of the story was very interesting as well, but the actual
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writing was able to be engaging. As the story evolved the readers were able to witness all of the different obstacles Wilma had to overcome, and this brought some excitement to the story. The writing was organized, because the story was a chronicle of Wilma’s life. The story opens with when she is born as a small child, to when she is a sickly girl, and then continues to as she is growing up into adulthood. The books also pushes readers to think about the difficult issues. It is mentioned that doctors were a luxury for the family because only one doctor in town treated black patients. Students might not be aware of the challenges that other families had to go through just to be seen by a doctor. And if it was that difficult for them to visit a doctor, students can image the other difficulties that would arise in their lives as well. Another tough issue that readers will have to think about is students with disabilities. On one page of the story Wilma is able to walk, but on the next she gets polio and is suddenly told that she will never walk again. Students will be able to reflect on what it would be like to hear that you were never going to walk again. Students can think about how difficult and scary that must be. Wilma as a character is believable. She has the same feelings that other students could relate to. She was determined to overcome her difficult situation, and students can relate to overcoming challenges in their own lives. The reason that Wilma is so believable is because the story is about a real person, allowing the character to be fully developed. The fact that this is a true story bring another level of importance to the story. Students can see other stories of people succeeding, which will allow them to feel an empowerment about their own life. The big idea of the story is that with determination and perseverance you can accomplish what is thought to be impossible.
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LibraryThing member Hhaddad1
LOVE this book about Wilma Rudolph. This is such a great book because it outlines the life of the famous athlete who overcame polio to win three Olympic gold medals. She is such an inspiration to others to never give up and to always believe in yourself. This book portrays that very well. I would
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read this book to second or third graders.
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LibraryThing member agates5
When I first picked up this book, I was unsure of whether or not I would like it because it was a biography. Surprisingly, I really enjoyed the book for 3 reasons. First, the plot of the story was very uplifting as you got to the end. The story is about Wilma Rudolph, and Olympic medalist who had
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polio has a child. The inspirational plot shows Wilma evolve and defeat every obstacle that stood in her way growing up. Another reason I really enjoyed this story was because it pushes readers to think about experiences that they may have never thought of before. For example, students may not be familiar with polio, disabilities, or any of the adversity that Wilma is faced with. The tough issues that the book addresses are even more realistic to students when they realize that the book is a biography and therefore a true story. The final reason that I enjoyed this book was because of the descriptive and engaging language. The author of this book continuously made the book come to life through the use of descriptive text. For example, one line says, “the sound of hymns coloring the air.” The illustrations in the book were very abstract and different, which I think is why I was hesitant to read it. However, I am glad that I decided to read this book considering how great it was!
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Kentucky Bluegrass Award (Nominee — Grades K-3 — 1998)
Red Clover Book Award (Nominee — 1998)
Jane Addams Children's Book Award (Winner — Picture Book — 1997)
Black-Eyed Susan Book Award (Nominee — Picture Books — 1998)


Original language


Physical description

11 x 8.5 inches


0152020985 / 9780152020989
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