Stories for Boys Who Dare to Be Different: True Tales of Amazing Boys Who Changed the World without Killing Dragons (Ben Brooks)

Hello, friends! Our book today is Stories for Boys Who Dare to Be Different: True Tales of Amazing Boys Who Changed the World without Killing Dragons, written by Ben Brooks and illustrated by Quinton Winter.

A short-biography anthology, this collection aims to recognize men and boys throughout history, both famed and more obscure, who made an impact on history in non-“traditionally masculine” ways. Included are familiar names such as Louis Braille, Frederick Douglass, and Frank Ocean, as well lesser-known figures such as Rick Van Beek, the triathlete who competes as a team with his disabled daughter, and Charles Fourier, creator of the term “feminism”. Each entry highlights how the subject used their intelligence, courage, empathy, creativity, and dedication to contribute to society.

As a concept, I ADORE this. While there is no shortage of male biographies for kids, Brooks is careful to focus on figures or accomplishments that are overlooked for not being traditionally masculine: Writer John Green is celebrated for his books, but also for the community of young activists he and his work inspired; Surfer Eddie Aikau is lauded for his athletic ability, but more so his dedication to lifeguard and rescue work. There are occasional stumbles: often the language reads vague in the pursuit of making the stories kid-friendly (I was greatly puzzled by the inclusion of actor Jessie Eisenberg, until research revealed that the book’s language choice of “worried” and “nervous” were euphemisms for Eisenberg’s OCD and other severe anxiety disorders). I also wished there were an introduction and/or some backmatter that could have made the collection feel more cohesive. Otherwise, the illustrations are simply STUNNING, and capture each subject with passion and awe. And while this is likely not for a single sitting, this largely inspiring and moving compilation is worth the commitment, especially if it spreads that message that greatness comes by many means, not just to the big and strong. Baby Bookworm approved!

(Note: A copy of this book was provided to The Baby Bookworm by the publisher in exchange for an honest review).

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