Words of Wonder from Z to A

by Zaila Avant-Garde (Author) Keisha Morris (Illustrator)

Words of Wonder from Z to A
Reading Level: 2nd − 3rd Grade

An inspiring picture book from Scripps National Spelling Bee champ Zaila Avant-garde, filled with her favorite motivational words from Z to A. Perfect for your little book lover and spelling ace!

When 14-year-old Zaila Avant-garde became the first Black American student to win the Scripps National Spelling Bee in 2021, the world took notice.

Now, this extraordinary speller, writer, and basketball champ celebrates the world of words, with 26 of Zaila's favorite words, such as KINDNESS, HOPE, and RESILIENCE, alongside Zaila's encouraging and poetic thoughts. Each bright and busy page also includes an inspiring quotation from a famous thought leader. And an afterword to the book details the fascinating origins of each word.

It's an uplifting picture book packed with motivation, learning, and fun, from one of America's most promising, unique, and accomplished young people.

Select format:

Kirkus Reviews

Starred Review
In a word: Wonderful.

School Library Journal

PreS-Gr 2--In a colorful and busy picture book, 2021 Scripps National Spelling Bee champion Avant-Garde writes an inspiring ABC of affirmations, but with a nod to her name, opens with Z. Every letter is a different color and each word is used in many affirmations and examples of how children can be great. Included are quotes from writers and leaders, such as Maya Angelou and Nelson Mandela. Although alphabet books are widely associated with young children, this can definitely be consumed by older readers or adults who may want or need some positive affirmations. The illustrations depict diverse children in happy settings, whether they are laughing, having fun outside, or spending time with loved ones. Back matter includes a lighthearted but thorough glossary. VERDICT A wonderfully uplifting book for the alphabet, affirmation, or novelty shelves.--Annmarie Braithwaite

Copyright 2023 School Library Journal, LLC Used with permission.

Review quotes

Little readers will love the vibrant illustrations and the inspirational words on every page. —The Root
Zaila Avant-Garde
ZAILA AVANT-GARDE is a multi-talented powerhouse and a New York Times bestselling author, with success springing from all her endeavors and all before the ninth grade. She was named SportsKid of the Year 2021 by Sports Illustrated Kids.

Hailing from New Orleans, Louisiana, she won the 2021 Scripps National Spelling Bee, making her the first African-American to win in almost 100 years of the competition. Avant-garde landed on her winning word, murraya--a type of tree--by associating the word with famous comedian Bill Murray, who surprised her by phoning in during her appearance on Jimmy Kimmel Live.

Avant-garde's spelling triumph is just one entry on a very impressive resume. Along with competing in spelling bees for two years, Avant-garde holds two Guinness World Records for her basketball prowess. She holds the records for the most bounce juggles in one minute with four basketballs and most basketballs dribbled simultaneously by one person (at 6 basketballs).

Her success has been celebrated by the likes of Barack and Michelle Obama, LeBron James, and Dr. Jill Biden, who attended the bee. Since winning the Bee, Zaila has appeared in a cameo role in Netflix's "HUSTLE", as well as NBA on TNT, and Peacock's "Kid's Tonight Show". You can also see her displaying her basketball skills in brand campaigns for Carnival Cruise Lines, BYJU, Xbox, and Gymshark.

FELICIA WHALEY is a children's book illustrator currently residing in Oak Park, IL. She obtained a BFA in illustration and design from the Art Institute of Chicago. It was there she found a love for illustrating for children, creating characters that she wished she had seen growing up. Learn more about Felicia's work at feliciawhaley.com and follow her on Instagram at @creativegal28.
Lexile Measure
Guided Reading Level
Doubleday Books
Publication date
June 20, 2023
BISAC categories
JUV000000 - Juvenile Fiction | General
Library of Congress categories
Juvenile literature
Children's writings

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