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STRONG MAN by Meghan McCarthy Kirkus Star


The Story of Charles Atlas

by Meghan McCarthy & illustrated by Meghan McCarthy

Age Range: 5 - 8

Pub Date: June 12th, 2007
ISBN: 978-0-375-82940-6
Publisher: Knopf

From the inspired take on the 1939 War of the Worlds broadcast (Aliens Are Coming!, 2006), McCarthy turns her attention to another icon of 20th-century pop culture, Charles Atlas. Bug-eyed cartoony acrylics depict the arrival on American shores of young Angelo Siciliano and the now-legendary sand-kicking episode on Coney Island’s beach: “SPLAT!” Inspired by a statue of Hercules in a museum and a powerful lion at the zoo, he determined to remake himself. Of course, he did, becoming the inspiration for thousands of comics-reading 98-pound weaklings that followed. Such a story could easily be deadly in its virtue, but both the humor of the illustrations and the accretion of cool Atlas facts—he served as the model for over 75 statues around the country; he still reigns as “The World’s Most Perfectly Developed Man”—keep things light without undercutting the author’s genuine admiration for the man. Comic-strip panels appropriately share the space with traditional spreads and mock black-and-white photographs, delivering a sunny account of Atlas’s life and career. An extensive author’s note expands on both man and influence; four exercises are also provided. (bibliography) (Picture book/biography. 5-8)