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WHO WINS? by Clay Swartz Kirkus Star


100 Historical Figures Go Head-to-Head and You Decide the Winner!

by Clay Swartz ; illustrated by Tom Booth

Pub Date: July 12th, 2016
ISBN: 978-0-7611-8544-4
Publisher: Workman

From Pelé to “Doc Soc” Socrates, Mother Teresa to Pythagoras, movers and shakers from the past face off in this split-page, mix-and-match fight card.

For anyone who has ever wondered whether George Washington could have schooled Leonardo da Vinci in pingpong, whether Harriet Tubman pwned Ernest Hemingway in the Hunger Games, or Boudica trumped “Class Act” (get it?) Carolus Linnaeus as a game-show host, Swartz brings the data and lets readers call the outcomes. Endowed with a set of identifying memes—“Marie Curie: Madame Radioactive, Chemist, Physicist, Biohazard”—and a quick, mostly admiring, but solidly factual biography, each contestant strikes a tough pose in a stylized but recognizable cartoon portrait, glaring across the card-stock page’s jaggedly cut divide. Swartz also rates each, 1-10, in seven personal categories (“Leadership,” “Intelligence,” “Wealth,” etc.). In a center section that is likewise mix or match, he supplies 50 competitive challenges (only a few actual conflicts), along with discussion questions: escaping Alcatraz? “Who’s the better schemer?” Living in 10,000 B.C.E.? “Who’s more outdoorsy?” As nearly a third of the contestants are women and over a quarter people of color, the author has plainly made an effort to diversify his cast’s origins as well as their walks of life. He also puts some lesser-known figures on the bill, like Empress Myeongseong of Korea and Zulu king Cetewayo.

History with a hilarious spin and a cinch to provoke vigorous debates aplenty.

(Informational novelty. 10-13)