Nov 5, 2008

I Love Gymnastics

or, Gymnastics School
by Naia Bray-Moffatt

This is a lovely book. It's a bit too advanced for my four-year-old, she lost interest after fifteen pages. But the photographs are so beautiful I finished reading it on my own. I Love Gymnastics follows a young girl named Jessica and her classmates through a beginning class at a gymnastics club. Through a series of images and descriptive captions, it describes all the work that goes into learning gymnastic skills. First are stretches, warm-up and conditioning exercises. Then the children learn basic moves like splits, forward rolls, headstands and cartwheels. Each spread describes a move and the steps involved in learning it, emphasizing flexibility, good posture, and forming graceful shapes with the body. Next the girls do some basic vaulting, learn to balance on the beam, and try the uneven bars. It's informative to see the progression: a move is first learned on the floor, then practiced on a low apparatus or with a spotter before the child performs it solo. Also clearly shown is how the skills of basics are used in more complex moves. Near the end of the book a few more advanced students visit the class to demonstrate floor routines and help the younger girls practice. A few pages show the different kinds of body conditioning and apparatus the boys use, and then all the children show off their skills in an end-of-class competition.

For anyone's little girl interested in doing gymnastics, this is a great book. The only odd thing about it is the title. The cover (board, jacket and flaps) says I Love Gymnastics. But the title page says Gymnastics School. Upon doing searches, I found the book listed with both titles (and the exact same cover image). It's a little puzzling.

Rating: 4/5               48 pages, 2005

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