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From the Epic Athletes series , Vol. 8

Young hoop dreamers will find this a highly engaging read about one of today’s most skilled players.

In this middle-grade biography of top basketball talent Kevin Durant, readers learn the passion, persistence, and self-discipline that have made him one of the greatest offensive players ever.

Kevin Durant is both one of the most skilled basketball players of his generation and an incredible inspiration for many. Greatness doesn’t come without a bit of backlash, as much of his record-breaking, hall-of-fame-in-the-making–NBA career has been reduced to one decision he made in 2016 to leave the stagnating Oklahoma City Thunder to join a successful Golden State Warriors team. Wetzel here resets the narrative by taking the long view on the incredible work ethic and discipline that earned Durant all types of accolades along his journey from Prince George’s County, Maryland, to the top of the basketball ranks. Readers meet the community behind the man, including coaches Charles Craig and Taras Brown and, of course, his beloved mother, Wanda Durant. Wetzel, who works as a columnist for Yahoo Sports, draws the details of Durant’s life story from published reporting done throughout the years, disregarding much of the commentary to focus on the words and framing offered by KD himself. Baez’s comics-style illustrations are dotted throughout the chapters, concluding with a spotlighted final sequence of the dagger three Durant sank over Lebron James on his way to his first championship ring in 2017.

Young hoop dreamers will find this a highly engaging read about one of today’s most skilled players. (Biography. 9-12)

Pub Date: Aug. 4, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-250-29583-5

Page Count: 176

Publisher: Henry Holt

Review Posted Online: June 2, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 2020

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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 19, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 2000

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In no particular order and using no set criteria for his selections, veteran sportscaster Berman pays tribute to an arbitrary gallery of baseball stars—all familiar names and, except for the Yankees’ Alex Rodriguez, retired from play for decades. Repeatedly taking the stance that statistics are just numbers but then reeling off batting averages, home-run totals, wins (for pitchers) and other data as evidence of greatness, he offers career highlights in a folksy narrative surrounded by photos, side comments and baseball-card–style notes in side boxes. Readers had best come to this with some prior knowledge, since he casually drops terms like “slugging percentage,” “dead ball era” and “barnstorming” without explanation and also presents a notably superficial picture of baseball’s history—placing the sport’s “first half-century” almost entirely in the 1900s, for instance, and condescendingly noting that Jackie Robinson’s skill led Branch Rickey to decide that he “was worthy of becoming the first black player to play in the majors.” The awesome feats of Ruth, Mantle, the Gibsons Bob and Josh, Hank Aaron, Ty Cobb and the rest are always worth a recap—but this one’s strictly minor league. (Nonfiction. 10-12)

Pub Date: Sept. 7, 2010

ISBN: 978-1-4022-3886-4

Page Count: 138

Publisher: Sourcebooks Jabberwocky

Review Posted Online: Aug. 2, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2010

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