The Adventures of Qai Qai

by Serena Williams (Author) Yesenia Moises (Illustrator)

Reading Level: 2nd − 3rd Grade

From superstar athlete, record breaker, entrepreneur, philanthropist (and mama) Serena Williams, comes a magical picture book in which a little girl learns to believe in herself with the help of her doll and best friend, Qai Qai.

"Don't be scared, Best Friend! I'm right here with you, always!" "But what if I'm not good enough?" "Girl!" Qai Qai answered. "You're already good enough when you walk in the door! Come on, let me show you."

Baby Girl has a dance recital coming up, and she can't help but worry. She's practiced and practiced, but what if something goes wrong? What if she forgets the steps or freezes up during her solo? Luckily, her best friend Qai Qai the doll has her back! When Qai Qai comes to life, they go on a magical journey that shows Baby Girl that she's ready for the stage. The Adventures of Qai Qai, a heartwarming picture book from beloved athlete Serena Williams, shows readers the power of believing--in your best friend and in yourself.

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Kirkus Reviews

An upbeat, energetic reminder that all children need support to help them learn to believe in themselves.

School Library Journal

PreS-Gr 2--The tennis champ's first book features a small Black ballerina is an upbeat if simplistic look at the road to success. In Moises's bright, lively cartoon-style artwork, Baby Girl's ebullient hair puffs cloudlike around her head as she dances through her house (often en pointe--in fact, famously dangerous for young beginners' bones). Before a live performance she fears forgetting the steps, and turns for support to her doll, based on Williams's real-life daughter's doll, Qai Qai. In response to Baby Girl's belief in her, Qai Qai comes to life, directing her to raid Mama's closet; they visit the theatre, where Qai Qai urges: "Trust your instincts." Her parents also boost her confidence. She wants Qai Qai to come on stage with her, but the doll assures her that being always with her in spirit is "how best friends work." "I believe in myself," Baby Girl says, and her parents report that her performance (not illustrated) was amazing. As in Peter Pan, believing produces success: no learning, practicing, coaching, patience, discipline, etc., required. VERDICT Technical quibbles aside, the positive message will resonate with many, and the frilly outfits in neon pink and lavender will win others.--Patricia Lothrop

Copyright 2022 School Library Journal, LLC Used with permission.


Tennis star Williams shows that her talents aren't limited to the court in this uplifting story of girlhood, family love, and magic. Filled with richly colored illustrations that see a preponderance of velvety purples and pinks, this book will particularly catch the eye of dancers and the Fancy Nancy set.  

Review quotes


Serena Williams

Serena Williams exemplifies courage, beauty, power, and style, overcoming insurmountable odds to win a staggering 23 career Grand Slams. Her remarkable tennis achievements, combined with her off-court success in business, philanthropy and fashion, make her one of the most recognizable icons in the world and a powerful voice for women. In 2020, Williams founded Serena Ventures, which focuses on investing in companies that embrace diverse leadership, individual empowerment, creativity, and opportunity. As a mother and advocate for the power of imagination and representation, she created the Qai Qai doll for her daughter. The Adventures of Qai Qai is Serena's first book for children and shows all readers that good things can come, if you believe hard enough.

Yesenia Moises is an Afro-Latina illustrator and designer with a specialty in product design. Her work proudly portrays people of diverse backgrounds playing leading roles in fantasy adventures that are brimming with color. She is the illustrator of Honeysmoke: A Story of Finding Your Color and the author-illustrator of Stella's Stellar Hair

Lexile Measure
Guided Reading Level
Feiwel & Friends
Publication date
September 27, 2022
BISAC categories
JUV040000 - Juvenile Fiction | Toys, Dolls & Puppets
JUV051000 - Juvenile Fiction | Imagination & Play
JUV039140 - Juvenile Fiction | Social Themes | Self-Esteem & Self-Reliance
JUV011010 - Juvenile Fiction | People & Places | United States - African-American
Library of Congress categories

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