Sarah and the Big Wave: The True Story of the First Woman to Surf Mavericks (Bonnie Tsui)

Hello, friends! Our book today is Sarah and the Big Wave: The True Story of the First Woman to Surf Mavericks, written by Bonnie Tsui and illustrated by Sophie Diao, an exhilarating look at the life of big wave surfer Sarah Gerhardt.

Two thousand miles and one week apart, a wave and a surfer both begin to move toward each other on a path of destiny. For the surfer – simply called Sarah – it feels like the wave she’s waited for all her life, ever since she was a very young girl learning to surf in California and Hawaii. Honing her skills, perfecting her timing, and learning how to handle her falls and hold her breath, Sarah finds that she has a passion for surfing “big waves” – swells that often crest at heights of fifty feet or more, and the most dangerous ones to surf. In addition to the challenges these big waves present, Sarah also has to fight the usual battles of a woman participating in a sport largely dominated by men: being forced to use ill-fitted equipment, dealing with prejudice, and being ostracized. Still, Sarah refuses to be held back, by man or by nature – after all, she was always destined to conquer the big waves.

Wonderful. This atmospheric and exciting tale sweeps readers along at a brisk pace, giving just enough backstory and context to leave readers feeling informed but never bogged-down. The tone is a perfect balance – relaxed at times, pulse-pounding at others – making the reader feel as though they are right out on the ocean with Sarah as she navigates the real and metaphoric waves of her sport. The artwork is sublime, creating beautiful sunlit seascapes and expressive characters, and even a few visual gimmicks that work surprisingly well, such as a size comparison between a big wave and an apartment building, or a fold-out page to illustrate the scale of Gerhardht conquering a wave at the famed Mavericks. The length is perfect for a storytime, and JJ adored the illustrations. This is a wonderfully inspiring story sure to excite young bookworms, and it’s Baby Bookworm approved!

(Note: A copy of this book was provided to The Baby Bookworm by the publisher in exchange for an honest review.)

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