Touch the Sky

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Ann Malaspina
Eric Velasquez


Touch the Sky

Alice Coachman, Olympic High Jumper




Ann Malaspina

Eric Velasquez

Published 2012

Age Levels: 6-9, Grades: 1-4
Pages: 32
8.50" x 11.00"
Illustrations: Full color

Accelerated Reader® Points: 0.50
ATOS Level: 3.60

Plot Summary

Bare feet shouldn't fly.
Long legs shouldn't spin,
Braids shouldn't flap in the wind.
"Sit on the porch and be a lady," Papa scolded Alice.

In Alice's Georgia hometown, there was no track where an African-American girl could practice, so she made her own crossbar with sticks and rags. With the support of her coach, friends, and community, Alice started to win medals. Her dream to compete at the Olympics came true in 1948. This is an inspiring free-verse story of the first African-American woman to win an Olympic gold medal. Photos of Alice Coachman are also included.



2013 Amelia Bloomer list; 2013 IRA-CBC Children's Choices; 2013-2014 Macy's Multicultural Collection of Children's Literature; 2014-2015 Children's Crown Award; 2015 Louisiana Readers' Choice Master List; A 2013 CBC/NCSS Notable Social Studies Trade Book for Young People; Best Children's Books of the Year 2013, Bank Street College; CCBC Choices 2013


"A solid introduction to a lesser-known sports heroine." Kirkus Reviews

"The engrossing narrative makes this book a can't-miss account of believing in seemingly impossible dreams and pursuing one's passion. Gracefully pictured in Velasquez's oil paintings, Coachman flies high in every way imaginable." Booklist

"...Alice, as depicted in Eric Velasquez's dynamic paintings, seems always to be airborne....Malaspina employs a spirited prose style to tell the story of Alice's extraordinary career." BookPage

"Velasquez's majestic, thickly painted oils portray Coachman (b. 1923) with a quiet serenity and assurance, as Malaspina, writing in verse, conveys the magnitude of her accomplishments with agility and lyricism." Publishers Weekly

" inspiring introduction to an obscure athlete." School Library Journal

"Told in free verse, this story of determination will inspire readers to reach for the sky as they try to make their own dreams come true. Oil paintings beautifully depict each part of Alice's journey, with a double-page spread devoted to her gold-winning jump." Library Media Connection

Associated Keywords
sports, Olympics, biography, African-Americans, Coachman, Alice