My View Book Review: Nadia by Karlin Gray


Title: Nadia: The Girl Who Couldn’t Sit Still

Author: Karlin Gray

Illustrator: Christine Davenier

Publisher/Year: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt/2016

Perfect For: Young gymnasts, Olympic fans, Biography collections

Nadia Comaneci was born in Romania on November 12, 1961. From an early age, she was filled with boundless energy, which sometimes got her into trouble. She especially liked to climb trees and even tried to climb her family’s Christmas tree one year. But instead of reaching the top, she ended up underneath the fallen tree. Nadia’s mother signed her up for gymnastics lessons to help her expel her energy in a positive way.

One day, while cartwheeling around the playground at school, she was spotted by Bela Karolyi. He asked Nadia to join his gymnastics school. Bela and his wife Marta became Nadia’s coaches. Before long, Nadia was “flying from bar to bar, from floor to vault, and high above the beam.” A few years later, she was competing and winning trophies and metals in national competitions. In 1976, Nadia and her Romanian teammates entered the arena for the Olympic Games in Montreal, Canada. During the games, Nadia was the first gymnast to ever receive a perfect ten score. She was just fourteen years old.

Author Karlin Gray has written a fantastic account of Nadia Comaneci’s life. Nadia: The Girl Who Couldn’t Sit Still is extremely well written and enjoyable to read. Though packed with facts, the book feels like a story and doesn’t overwhelm the reader. Illustrator Christine Davenier’s artwork is full of life and movement, perfectly capturing the essence of young Nadia. 

Growing up, I had an older sister who could walk on her hands, turn cartwheels with ease, and bend completely over backwards so that both hands and both feet were touching the floor. I was lucky if I could pull off a forward somersault across the floor.

People who can do these extraordinary feats of balance have always fascinated me. They seem to have an incredible sense of body position, something I will never fully understand. I think that’s why the gymnastic events during the Summer Olympics are some of my favorites to watch. I’m amazed at what these young men and woman can do. They make it look so effortless, though I know weeks, months, even years of practice have gained them that level of skill. Still, I can’t help but think, that like Nadia Comaneci (and my sister), they were born with a special gift.

Nadia: The Girl Who Couldn’t Sit Still would make a special gift too!

A Picture-Perfect Baby Shower Idea by Karlin Gray


Frog On A Blog Certified Guest Post

My cousin’s daughter is having a baby and I know just what to give her for a baby shower gift–a copy of my picture book The Peddler’s Bed. That was an easy decision.

Of course, you don’t have to be an author to give picture books as gifts. I may be a tad biased, but I believe a picture book is the perfect gift for a shower, a birthday, Christmas, any special occasion, or for no occasion at all. It’s a story and pictures wrapped up neatly between two beautiful covers. What’s better than that? Not much.

But have you ever thought of giving a picture book instead of a card? Today, author Karlin Gray stopped by to tell us why picture books make the perfect greeting cards too!

A Picture-Perfect Baby Shower Idea

by Karlin Gray

As my son’s reading interests shift from picture books to chapter books and graphic novels, I have been moving books from his shelves to mine. In doing so, I was reminded of a wonderful thing that my family and friends did at my baby shower.

Instead of a card, guests gave me their favorite picture book. They wrote their good wishes to my “Baby” (since we didn’t know the gender) on the inside cover pages. Eight years later, the gifts of bottles, bibs, and binkys are gone. But the picture books are still here.

At some point during those early sleep-deprived years, I started pasting friend’s holiday picture cards next to their signature in the books. This way, my son could connect the book to the person who was kind enough to give it to him.

I treasure all those notes like “Eat up all the joy to come!” (My tiny co-worker with a huge appetite wrote in The Very Hungry Caterpillar) and “Enjoy the music!” (My childhood friend with a hippy heart wrote in Free to Be You and Me). Other books given were You Are My I Love You, Kitten’s First Full Moon, On the Night You Were Born, A Treasury of Curious George, If You Give a Mouse a Cookie, Goodnight Moon, and Where The Wild Things Are.

And because I ended up having a baby who wasn’t too fond of sleeping, these books were read to him at a very early age . . . again and again.

Today, I continue this gesture, giving picture books as baby-shower cards. My go-tos are usually by Patrick McDonnell: when it’s for a boy—Art; when it’s for a girl Me, Jane; and when it’s for “Baby”, Hug Time.







Certainly, buying a picture book instead of a card is more expensive. (Board books are a nice option, priced around $3-5 and drool-resistant!) But it will not end up in the trash or stuffed into some box in the closet. It will be part of the child’s world for many years and a lovely reminder of the person who found just the right card—picture perfect!

Karlin Gray is the author of NADIA: THE GIRL WHO COULDN’T SIT STILL, a nonfiction picture book on Olympic gymnast Nadia Comaneci. Visit her at


My First Picture Book: A Q&A With Karlin Gray


Recently, I had the extreme pleasure of answering some questions about my debut book experience for Karlin Gray, author of Nadia: The Girl Who Couldn’t Sit Still, which was published June 7, 2016 by HMH. Karlin says, “Since I am new to the picture-book world, I wanted to learn from other writers. What inspired their stories? How did they go about crafting their first book? What did they do when they finally received that offer?” Those are just a few of the fun questions Karlin asks on her blog.

Click Here to read my responses to Karlin’s questions.

Look for my review of Karlin’s debut book, Nadia: The Girl Who Couldn’t Sit Still, this fall.