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

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

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. 12, 2019

BIG APPLE DIARIES

An authentic and moving time capsule of middle school angst, trauma, and joy.

Through the author’s own childhood diary entries, a seventh grader details her inner life before and after 9/11.

Alyssa’s diary entries start in September 2000, in the first week of her seventh grade year. She’s 11 and dealing with typical preteen concerns—popularity and anxiety about grades—along with other things more particular to her own life. She’s shuffling between Queens and Manhattan to share time between her divorced parents and struggling with thick facial hair and classmates who make her feel like she’s “not a whole person” due to her mixed White and Puerto Rican heritage. Alyssa is endlessly earnest and awkward as she works up the courage to talk to her crush, Alejandro; gushes about her dreams of becoming a shoe designer; and tries to solve her burgeoning unibrow problem. The diaries also have a darker side, as a sense of impending doom builds as the entries approach 9/11, especially because Alyssa’s father works in finance in the World Trade Center. As a number of the diary entries are taken directly from the author’s originals, they effortlessly capture the loud, confusing feelings middle school brings out. The artwork, in its muted but effective periwinkle tones, lends a satisfying layer to the diary’s accessible and delightful format.

An authentic and moving time capsule of middle school angst, trauma, and joy. (author's note) (Graphic memoir. 8-13)

Pub Date: Aug. 17, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-250-77427-9

Page Count: 288

Publisher: Roaring Brook Press

Review Posted Online: June 15, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 2021

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

From the They Did What? series

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

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. 10, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 2015

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