Any sports aficionado will easily be lost in these pages.

WEIRDZONE: SPORTS

The title says it all.

There will certainly be the temptation to ask if some of these endeavors are sports at all. Rolling down a hill in a plastic ball (aka “zorbing”)? Professional-grade pillow fighting? Lawn-mower racing, or rushing about in a toilet bowl? Extreme ironing (that’s with an ironing board and laundry, up high on some radical rock spire)? But, ultimately, this collection of odd-fellow sports is good fun. You can see it on the faces of the participants pictured here—just joy, or terror or complete flabbergastation, though thoroughly in the moment. Each sport gets a two-page spread, and its depiction can be somewhat hectic and haphazard. Yet the photographs and artwork are sharp and nicely illustrative of the strange happenings. The text is bell-clear as well, if a little overloaded with exclamation marks: “Inuit even skip rocks on ice!” Birmingham has done her homework, however, and come up with some of the most bizarre sporting stories to be told, including a football game during which the fog got so dense, the players couldn’t see the ball and the baseball game that lasted 33 innings (only 19 fans were in the bleachers at the end).

Any sports aficionado will easily be lost in these pages. (Nonfiction. 8-12)

Pub Date: April 15, 2013

ISBN: 978-1-926973-60-9

Page Count: 128

Publisher: Owlkids Books

Review Posted Online: Jan. 16, 2013

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 2013

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An apt choice for collections that already have stronger alternatives, such as R.J. Palacio's Wonder (2012).

UGLY

A memoir of the first 14 years in the life of Australian Robert Hoge, born with stunted legs and a tumor in the middle of his face.

In 1972, Robert is born, the youngest of five children, with fishlike eyes on the sides of his face, a massive lump in place of his nose, and malformed legs. As baby Robert is otherwise healthy, the doctors convince his parents to approve the first of many surgeries to reduce his facial difference. One leg is also amputated, and Robert comes home to his everyday white, working-class family. There's no particular theme to the tale of Robert's next decade and a half: he experiences school and teasing, attempts to participate in sports, and is shot down by a girl. Vignette-driven choppiness and the lack of an overarching narrative would make the likeliest audience be those who seek disability stories. However, young Robert's ongoing quest to identify as "normal"—a quest that remains unchanged until a sudden turnaround on the penultimate page—risks alienating readers comfortable with their disabilities. Brief lyrical moments ("as compulsory as soggy tomato sandwiches at snack time") appeal but are overwhelmed by the dry, distant prose dominating this autobiography.

An apt choice for collections that already have stronger alternatives, such as R.J. Palacio's Wonder (2012). (Memoir. 8-12)

Pub Date: Sept. 6, 2016

ISBN: 978-0-425-28775-0

Page Count: 208

Publisher: Viking

Review Posted Online: May 18, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 1, 2016

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Brisk, broad, often funny…and more than just peddling the medals.

ON YOUR MARK, GET SET, GOLD!

AN IRREVERENT GUIDE TO THE SPORTS OF THE SUMMER GAMES

An overview of Olympic and Paralympic events, with notes on rules, history, special gear, and epic feats and fails.

After quick intros to the ancient and modern games—and a timeline of the latter that, in a spirit of optimism, runs to 2020—this handbook goes on to cover some 40-plus events or classes of event, including sport climbing and skateboarding, both putatively debuting in 2020. Each entry arranges quick bursts of fact, historical background, basic rules of play, and medal tallies of renowned winners around a large, stylized central scene showing racially and ethnically diverse competitors in vigorous action; occasionally snarky commentary adds a chuckle or two (Wrestling: “A combat sport in which two athletes in singlets roll around on a mat cuddling each other until one of them can’t move anymore”). Along with individual entries for goalball and boccia, which are exclusively Paralympic events, versions of each sport as adapted for athletes with disabilities get nods throughout. Despite a claim at the outset that it’s “all about the medals!” every entry also includes general advice about the hazards and pleasures of participating in each sport at any level of skill. Readers will come away with a good overall view of the summer Olympics, if not a complete tally—in sailing alone, as Allen notes, there are 10 to 15 races in each of eight different events—plus a look at 19 exciting sports or games that may one day be added, like break dancing or…well, bowling.

Brisk, broad, often funny…and more than just peddling the medals. (index) (Nonfiction. 8-11)

Pub Date: July 7, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-5362-1398-0

Page Count: 96

Publisher: Nosy Crow/Candlewick

Review Posted Online: March 29, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 2020

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