Even readers who are not sports enthusiasts will appreciate Long’s upbeat account of finding confidence in the water and in...

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UNSINKABLE

FROM RUSSIAN ORPHAN TO PARALYMPIC SWIMMING WORLD CHAMPION

In a series of “moments,” Paralympic swimmer Long describes how she became “the second-most decorated Paralympian of all time.”

“I’ve never been good at listening to people. They always seem to tell me what I can’t do,” writes Long, setting the theme for her informative—if somewhat disorganized—discussion of sports, family, physical disability, anxiety and obsessive-compulsive disorder, and Christianity. Born in Siberia with fibular hemimelia, a condition that later necessitated the amputation of her legs, Long was adopted into an American family that encouraged her love of swimming. (“God had a plan for that little Russian orphan,” she concludes.) The youngest member of the U.S. Paralympic swim team at age 12, she went on to compete in the 2004, 2008, 2012, and 2016 Paralympic Games. Her acceptance into a “second family” of other amputees after growing up without disabled peers will resonate with readers who also desire camaraderie with others like themselves. Though Long’s disdain for physical or emotional weakness borders on cliché, the sacrifices her grueling training requires—and her desire to make them worthwhile—provide sympathetic context for her aversion to “giving in.” The book’s bright color scheme is occasionally hard on the eyes; blues and reds in the accompanying photos are intense, and white text on yellow and sky blue backgrounds blurs the first page of each chapter. Long and her family present white.

Even readers who are not sports enthusiasts will appreciate Long’s upbeat account of finding confidence in the water and in life. (Memoir. 8-14)

Pub Date: June 5, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-328-70725-3

Page Count: 112

Publisher: HMH Books

Review Posted Online: March 27, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 2018

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Sympathetic in tone, optimistic in outlook, not heavily earnest: nothing to be afraid of.

SCARED STIFF

50 PHOBIAS THAT FREAK US OUT

Part browsing item, part therapy for the afflicted, this catalog of irrational terrors offers a little help along with a lot of pop psychology and culture.

The book opens with a clinical psychologist’s foreword and closes with a chapter of personal and professional coping strategies. In between, Latta’s alphabetically arranged encyclopedia introduces a range of panic-inducers from buttons (“koumpounophobia”) and being out of cellphone contact (“nomophobia”) to more widespread fears of heights (“acrophobia”), clowns (“coulroiphobia”) and various animals. There’s also the generalized “social anxiety disorder”—which has no medical name but is “just its own bad self.” As most phobias have obscure origins (generally in childhood), similar physical symptoms and the same approaches to treatment, the descriptive passages tend toward monotony. To counter that, the author chucks in references aplenty to celebrity sufferers, annotated lists of relevant books and (mostly horror) movies, side notes on “joke phobias” and other topics. At each entry’s end, she contributes a box of “Scare Quotes” such as a passage from Coraline for the aforementioned fear of buttons.

Sympathetic in tone, optimistic in outlook, not heavily earnest: nothing to be afraid of. (end notes, resource list) (Nonfiction. 11-14)

Pub Date: Feb. 4, 2014

ISBN: 978-1-936976-49-2

Page Count: 224

Publisher: Zest Books

Review Posted Online: Nov. 13, 2013

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 2013

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A loud, cynical cash grab—far from amazing.

THE AMAZING BOOK IS NOT ON FIRE

THE WORLD OF DAN AND PHIL

A couple more YouTube stars write a book.

Howell, who goes by "danisnotonfire," and "AmazingPhil" Lester are the latest YouTube stars hoping to cross over to the world of books. Instead of crafting a memoir or adapting their videos into a fictional series, the duo have filled these 225 pages with bold graphics, scatological humor, and quirky how tos that may entice their fan base but will leave everyone else out in the cold. It contains a wide variety of nonsense, ranging from Phil's chat logs to information on breeding hamsters. There's an emoji-only interview and some Dan/Phil fanfiction (by Howell rather than a fan) and even a full double-page spread of the pair's unsuccessful selfies. All this miscellany is shoveled in without much rhyme or reason following introductory pages that clearly introduce the pair as children, leaving readers who aren't in on the joke completely out of the loop. The authors make no attempt to bring in those on the outside, but in all honesty, why should they? The only people buying this book are kids who already love everything Dan and Phil do or clueless relatives in desperate search of a gift for the awkward teens in their lives. The book's biggest fault is its apparent laziness. It feels like something slapped together over a weekend, with no heart or soul.   

A loud, cynical cash grab—far from amazing. (Nonfiction. 12-16)

Pub Date: Oct. 13, 2015

ISBN: 978-1-101-93984-0

Page Count: 224

Publisher: Random House

Review Posted Online: Oct. 30, 2015

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