A compendium of concise text and droll pictures featuring anthropomorphized cartoon animals explaining dozens of sports.
The jokes come even before the title page, with a cavedog chasing a mastodon, then being chased by a saber-toothed tiger (“Life was a constant to and fro”) before, centuries later, “there was time at last for sports.” This third picture shows a periwigged dog carried by two liveried hippos in a sedan chair. Each double-page spread contains multiple illustrations and blocks of accompanying text, often with amusing subtextual irony. The depictions of struggling skiers are at odds with the prose describing it as “fantastic fun,” for instance. (In this book, everything is “fantastic.”) Though tongue-in-cheek, the book is also informative. The section on boxing explains weight classes, equipment, and training. A wide array of animal athletes is used throughout; the sprint, for example, is a race among a duck, donkey, tortoise, and lion (who wins). Basketball favors the tall; rugby is best suited to the strong and tough, and it’s much like American football but without padding. Some of the most interesting facts concern offbeat sports, such as axe throwing, slacklining, and caber toss. Because it requires fitness and flexibility, ballet is also treated here as a sport, leading to an explanation of rhythmic gymnastics: “unbelievable exercise, in time to beautiful music.”
Facts galore, presented in an entertaining fashion; both children and adults will laugh a lot and learn even more. (Informational picture book. 3-8)