Random, with the occasional fact as undeniably flabbergasting as, well, soccer-ball–sized hail.


A grab bag of soccer tidbits, gathered like so many acorns by Mills.

Mills took the soccer tree and gave it a good shake. Down came a rain of soccer thises and thats, a precious few basic to the game (like the size of a stadium), some meant to wow (like the stadium—it could only be in Rio de Janeiro—that once held 200,000), and a random swarm of crazies: the soccer field built on a tilt, the player who was traded for 33 pounds of sausage (in 2006!), and the Swiss soccer field that was overrun by frogs. (That is called an omen; game over, go home.) The book is composed of boxed items and free-floating paragraphs that come at readers like flashcards. The graphics are cheery and the photographs are sharp and telling, and there is a curious emphasis on scoring in a game known to go scoreless for ages and ages. Soccer greats are given 10 seconds of page time, and so are the hapless Joes. Women are given a nod, but men dominate. Does the sum of these parts give readers a greater appreciation of the game? No. Will they be able to lob a piece or two of trivia into a soccer conversation to establish street cred? Yes.

Random, with the occasional fact as undeniably flabbergasting as, well, soccer-ball–sized hail. (Nonfiction. 9-12)

Pub Date: July 15, 2016

ISBN: 978-1-77085-730-8

Page Count: 64

Publisher: Firefly

Review Posted Online: June 22, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 2016

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A stereotype about people with disabilities is shattered by this introduction to a dance company known as Dancing Wheels, a group composed of “sit down” and “stand-up” dancers. The story begins with Mary Fletcher-Verdi, born with spina bifida, a condition that causes weakness in the legs and spine. Mary always wanted to dance, and, encouraged by a family who focused on what she could do rather than what she couldn’t, she studied the art and eventually formed a mixed company, some who dance on their legs, and some who dance in wheelchairs. What she accomplished can be seen in this photo journal of the group’s dance workshop in which beginners and experienced dancers study and rehearse. Along the way, McMahon (One Belfast Boy, 1999, etc.) intersperses the history of the group, some details about the dancers, their families, and the rehearsal process that leads up to the final performance. Three children are featured, Jenny a wheelchair dancer, Devin, her stand-up partner, and Sabatino, the young son of Mary’s partner. The focus on these youngsters gives the reader a sense of their personalities and their lives with their families. Godt’s (Listen for the Bus, not reviewed, etc.) color photographs detail every aspect of the story and show the dancers at home and in rehearsal, interacting with each other, having fun, and finally performaning. They convey the dancer’s sense of joy as well as the commitment to the dance as an art form felt by the adult directors and teachers. An excellent book for helping children and adults expand their understanding about the abilities of the “disabled.” (Nonfiction. 7-12)

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 2000

ISBN: 0-395-88889-1

Page Count: 48

Publisher: Houghton Mifflin

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 2000

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The art underperforms, but the descriptions of athletic feats admirably compensate.



Sequential panels offer accounts of select achievements and milestones in modern sports history.

Literally blow-by-blow only in the case of Muhammad Ali’s “Rumble in the Jungle” with George Foreman, each entry breaks down a memorable moment in a different sport or event—in the case of soccer, for instance, Brandi Chastain’s winning penalty kick in the 1999 Women’s World Cup final and Germany’s 7-1 demolition of Brazil in 2014’s Men’s World Cup semifinal. The featured athletes are a diverse lot, ranging from White ice dancers Jayne Torvill and Christopher Dean to African American gymnast Simone Biles, Jamaican speedster Usain Bolt, Japanese wrestling legend Kaori Icho, and Australian Indigenous Olympic track star Cathy Freeman. Paralympics champion Jonnie Peacock and surfer Bethany Hamilton, who has one arm, make the roster, too. Degnan’s figures don’t always quite resemble their subjects, but she does tuck versions of iconic photos, like the raised fists of Tommie Smith and John Carlos at the 1968 Olympics, into her sets of freeze frames. In adrenalized prose (crediting Jesse Owens, for example, with “single-handedly crushing Hitler’s myth of white supremacy”), Skinner adds both historical context and descriptions of the action to each entry, then closes with a set of character card–style tributes. (This book was reviewed digitally.)

The art underperforms, but the descriptions of athletic feats admirably compensate. (glossary) (Sports history. 9-12)

Pub Date: Sept. 20, 2022

ISBN: 978-1-4197-6023-5

Page Count: 64

Publisher: Magic Cat

Review Posted Online: May 11, 2022

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 1, 2022

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