Informative and thrilling, it’s like a Rocky movie for kids.

SIMONE BILES

MAKING THE CASE FOR THE GREATEST OF ALL TIME

From the G.O.A.T.: Making the Case for the Greatest of All Time series

This detailed profile of Simone Biles argues that she is the greatest gymnast of all time.

What are the criteria for being the “greatest of all time” in a field? This book posits an answer to that question and makes a compelling argument for Simone Biles as the G.O.A.T. of women’s gymnastics. To be an elite athlete takes a level of focus, training, dedication, and talent that most people don’t have. To become the G.O.A.T. requires another level of all of these, and Blackaby details not only the mental toughness and flexibility that get the African American gymnast through her hours of training, occasional setbacks, and nerve-wracking competitions, but the tools needed to attain those mental skills. These include a sports psychologist, the right coach, tough decisions about other areas of her life, and supportive family who invested in her success. A brief chapter on Biles’ home life and family is followed by more detail about her years of training and competitions. The focus on how she kept moving toward her goal sustains readers’ interest to the last page. Easy-to-read type with large, pink subheadings and full-color photographs sprinkled through the pages make this small volume read like a magazine. It’s a pleasingly, uniquely humanizing lens on the price of success for one young athlete of international renown. A lengthy bibliography provides plenty of references.

Informative and thrilling, it’s like a Rocky movie for kids. (glossary, index) (Biography. 8-14)

Pub Date: Nov. 12, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-4549-3206-2

Page Count: 128

Publisher: Sterling

Review Posted Online: Oct. 13, 2019

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A breezy, bustling bucketful of courageous acts and eye-popping feats.

50 IMPRESSIVE KIDS AND THEIR AMAZING (AND TRUE!) STORIES

From the They Did What? series

Why should grown-ups get all the historical, scientific, athletic, cinematic, and artistic glory?

Choosing exemplars from both past and present, Mitchell includes but goes well beyond Alexander the Great, Anne Frank, and like usual suspects to introduce a host of lesser-known luminaries. These include Shapur II, who was formally crowned king of Persia before he was born, Indian dancer/professional architect Sheila Sri Prakash, transgender spokesperson Jazz Jennings, inventor Param Jaggi, and an international host of other teen or preteen activists and prodigies. The individual portraits range from one paragraph to several pages in length, and they are interspersed with group tributes to, for instance, the Nazi-resisting “Swingkinder,” the striking New York City newsboys, and the marchers of the Birmingham Children’s Crusade. Mitchell even offers would-be villains a role model in Elagabalus, “boy emperor of Rome,” though she notes that he, at least, came to an awful end: “Then, then! They dumped his remains in the Tiber River, to be nommed by fish for all eternity.” The entries are arranged in no evident order, and though the backmatter includes multiple booklists, a personality quiz, a glossary, and even a quick Braille primer (with Braille jokes to decode), there is no index. Still, for readers whose fires need lighting, there’s motivational kindling on nearly every page.

A breezy, bustling bucketful of courageous acts and eye-popping feats. (finished illustrations not seen) (Collective biography. 10-13)

Pub Date: May 10, 2016

ISBN: 978-0-14-751813-2

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Puffin

Review Posted Online: Nov. 11, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 2015

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A likable journey that is sensitive to the triumphs and agonies of being a 13-year-old girl.

FRIENDS FOREVER

From the Friends series , Vol. 3

Shannon just wants to get through eighth grade in one piece—while feeling like her own worst enemy.

In this third entry in popular author for young people Hale’s graphic memoir series, the young, sensitive overachiever is crushed by expectations: to be cool but loyal to her tightknit and dramatic friend group, a top student but not a nerd, attractive to boys but true to her ideals. As events in Shannon’s life begin to overwhelm her, she works toward finding a way to love and understand herself, follow her passions for theater and writing, and ignore her cruel inner voice. Capturing the visceral embarrassments of middle school in 1987 Salt Lake City, Shannon’s emotions are vivid and often excruciating. In particular, the social norms of a church-oriented family are clearly addressed, and religion is shown as being both a comfort and a struggle for Shannon. While the text is sometimes in danger of spelling things out a little too neatly and obviously, the emotional honesty and sincerity drawn from Hale’s own life win out. Pham’s artwork is vibrant and appealing, with stylistic changes for Shannon’s imaginings and the leeching out of color and use of creative panel structures as her anxiety and depression worsen.

A likable journey that is sensitive to the triumphs and agonies of being a 13-year-old girl. (author's note, gallery) (Graphic memoir. 10-14)

Pub Date: Aug. 31, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-250-31755-1

Page Count: 320

Publisher: First Second

Review Posted Online: June 11, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 2021

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