There Goes Patti McGee!: The Story of the First Women’s National Skateboard Champion (Tootie Nienow)

Hello, friends! Our book today is There Goes Patti McGee!: The Story of the First Women’s National Skateboard Champion, written by Tootie Nienow and illustrated by Erika Medina.

Adventurous Patti McGee found her passion the day she saw a group of boys skateboard past her house. Building a skateboard out of roller skate wheels and a plank of wood, Patti taught herself how to skate by trying, zooming, and crashing. Despite taunts from adults and other girls as well as facing a nearly exclusively male skateboarding community, Patti carved herself a place in the early days of the sport, practicing hard and proving her skill, even earning a place on a thus-far all-male team. She became the first skateboarder – male or female – to perform a rolling handstand in competition, earning her a perfect score and a National trophy, and proving that skateboarding was a sport for everyone who had the courage to try, just like Patti.

Inspiring fun. This enthusiastic picture book biography does a good job of telling the story of McGee’s very early skate career by balancing the technical aspects of skateboarding with the specific challenges Patti faced as a female pioneer in a male-dominated sport. Backmatter provides further context and info on McGee’s later career, but aspects like era and setting are vague in the main text; this might make the story more relatable for modern readers but does lose some of the educational appeal. The cartoon illustrations are bright, sunny, and energetic, and cleverly integrate the names of skateboarding moves and tricks. The length is good for a storytime, and JJ enjoyed this one. Not an overly comprehensive look at McGee’s life, but an exciting and inspiring sports story for little bookworms, and it’s Baby Bookworm approved!

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

Run Like A Girl: 50 Extraordinary and Inspiring Sportswomen (Danielle Brown)

Hello, friends! Our book today is Run Like A Girl: 50 Extraordinary and Inspiring Sportswomen by Danielle Brown, a collection of mini-biographies of incredible female athletes from around the world.

“‘You run like a girl!’ – If you ever hear these words it’s time to smile and put on your game face,” begins the introduction to this awesome compendium of award-winning, accomplished athletes – all of whom also happen to be women. Readers can learn about fifty athletes from nearly as many different sports, from running to surfing to mountain climbing to basketball to cricket to jousting, and dozens more.

Empowering. Brown, a Paralympic athlete herself, gives readers a comprehensive collection of girl power role models; the athletes featured are from all around the world, representing a vast myriad of races, ages, nationalities, and abilities, from household names like Simone Biles and Bethany Hamilton to lesser-known champions like Sophie Christiansen and Dame Ellen MacArthur. Equally diverse are the disciplines represented, from well-known sports like soccer and gymnastics to less mainstream pursuits like heptathlon and fell running. Each two-page spread features a mini-biography as well as a quote, an info table, and interesting factoids, as well as a minimalist illustration of each athlete. The length makes this one best for older elementary or middle-grade bookworms – JJ was definitely through after a few entries – but it’s a great read for any kid, male or female, interested in sports. Overall, Baby Bookworm approved!

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

World At Your Feet (Rob Parker)

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Hello, friends! Our book today is World At Your Feet, written by Rob Parker and illustrated by Lawerta, a clever look at some of the most famous goals in world soccer history.

Presented in a first person narrative, the reader is swept into sixteen of the most critical, masterful, and/or unbelievable soccer (or football, as the book hails from outside the US) goals of all time. In striking mid-century-modern-inspired illustrations, the reader follows the detailed rhyming text to put themselves in the game as each goal is set up and scored.

So there was a lot going on in this book, both good and bad (I should note here that I am complete soccer novice, which impacts this review). Each goal is described using soccer terms, which are likely easily understood for fans of the sport. I however, found myself getting lost in the language quite often, especially as I tried to work around the rhyme scheme while reading aloud. Often, I wasn’t quite sure exactly what I was saying as the language would become more and more technical. And as a novice, I would have loved to have more information about each of the goals – the players, the teams, what made the goal so striking – put into easily-understood layman’s terms. The art was a treat, colorful and featuring dynamic action, perfect for a book about soccer. But the length started to get a little much for JJ, especially since the language was so confusing at times. For a mega-fan of soccer, this would is an awesome book, but those unfamiliar with the sport will likely struggle. Still, a unique and loving tribute to the world’s favorite sport, and it’s Baby Bookworm approved!

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

Neymar: A Soccer Dream Come True (Mina Javaherbin)

Hello, friends! Our book today is Neymar: A Soccer Dream Come True, written by Mina Javaherbin and illustrated by Paul Hoppe, the real-life story of Neymar Jr., one of the biggest soccer stars in the world.

Growing up in Brazil, Neymar Jr. lived and breathed soccer; he spent all the time he could playing and practicing. His father had once played, but had to quit his pro career after an accident, but he passed on his love of soccer to his son and encouraged Neymar Jr..’s passion for it. At a local amateur match, a coach sees potential in young Neymar Jr. and offers to coach him, which earns him a spot in the local club. Eventually Neymar is even accepted to a prestigious trial with Real Madrid in Spain, but he finds that he misses his home, and especially his family. His father agrees to take him back to Brazil, much to the shock of Neymar’s friends and fans. But as it turns out, a talent like Neymar’s, combined with his drive and the support of his family, is destined to grow no matter where it’s planted.

This one was great! We don’t read a lot of sports books because JJ’s not into sports yet, but this is one of those sports stories that transcends the fandom. The main focus is Neymar Jr.’s childhood and rise as a soccer star, but it’s interspersed with lessons that are applicable to fans and non-fans alike, such as responsibly, the importance of hard work and family, and knowing when to trust your instincts, even if the world calls you crazy. The first-person narrative helps the reader connect with Neymar Jr., and the warm, energetic illustrations are cozy yet exciting. The length is great, and JJ enjoyed it. A great story for fans of soccer or simply lovers of a great story. Baby Bookworm approved.

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

Girl Running: Bobbi Gibb And The Boston Marathon (Annette Bay Pimentel)

Hello, friends! Our book today is Girl Running: Bobbi Gibb And The Boston Marathon, written by Annette Bay Pimentel and illustrated by Micha Archer, the inspiring story of the first woman to compete in the famous race.

Bobbi loves to run. The second her school bell rings, she’s off. Running is when she feels happy and free, and brings her joy like nothing else. Every year, the famous Boston Marathon passes by her town, and Bobbi watches the runners as they pass, itching to join. When she is old enough, she spends a year training for the Marathon, traveling across the country and running on all kinds of terrain. And when it comes time to sign up for the 1966 Boston Marathon, Bobbi sends in her application, and is cruelly rejected. Women are not “physiologically able” to run 26.2 miles, her rejection letter states, “and it’s against the rules besides.” Bobbi is crushed, but she makes a decision: she will race, whether they will have her or not. When the day comes, she sneaks into the race as it starts, and soon learns that to change the rules, sometimes you have to break them.

An amazing story, beautifully told. Bobbi’s story is certainly inspirational, and the text does a great job of laying out the plot in an exciting yet informative way. It draws the reader into Bobbi’s world, from her inability to find running shoes for women, her drive to finish the race for her female spectators, even a great scene where the male runners show her support and solidarity when they realize she is female (a great message for young male readers in a decidedly girl-power book). The art is also an immersion, using paint and collage to create spreads filled with depth and passion, so visceral that the reader can feel the wind in their hair. The length is fine for even smaller bookworms, and JJ loved it. Baby Bookworm approved!