Readers will come away believing nothing is more important than knowing you have people in your corner.



At only 12, Jesselyn “Jesszilla” Silva is in the ring to win Olympic gold, no matter how many hurdles get in her way.

Jess tells readers she knew she wanted to be a boxer from the age of 7. With too-big gear and fierce determination, Jess started down a road that will hopefully take her all the way to Olympic gold. Readers might think that the hardest part about being a girl boxer would be the uphill battle of proving herself tough enough, but while that can be a challenge, the bigger complication for Jess is simply finding other girls her age to fight. This is important, she tells readers, because Jess needs to be a registered boxer and to have fought in five registered bouts in order to qualify for the Junior Olympics, and sparring fights with boys her age don’t count. Jess is a smart, strong Latinx girl with a fierce determination, and readers will root through her wins and losses, ups and downs, all the way to the 2018 Junior Olympics. While the writing can be a bit uneven, young girls will be able to relate to Jess and will be inspired by her fighting spirit. Her loving relationship with her father and the support of her coach give an emotional weight to the story.

Readers will come away believing nothing is more important than knowing you have people in your corner. (Memoir. 9-12)

Pub Date: June 4, 2019

ISBN: 978-0-525-51840-2

Page Count: 256

Publisher: Putnam

Review Posted Online: April 14, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1, 2019

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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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