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.)

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!

Splashdance (Liz Starin)

Summer Reading Day 81: Hi, everyone! Ms. J was having a tough time today with toothaches, but she was still excited to read her story, Splashdance by Liz Starin. In Splashdance, a polar bear named Ursula is practicing diligently for a water ballet with her partner, until one day she arrives to find that the pool has hung up a sign: “NO BEARS.” Her swimming partner subsequently abandons her for someone he can swim with, leaving Ursula feeling alone and abandoned, disheartened by being banned from doing what she loves. Eventually, Ursula finds that she is not alone in being banned, and she and her fellow outsiders concoct a plan to live their dream of competing in the water ballet event.

This book dealt pretty heavily with the concepts of segregation and discrimination, and it did so very well. Certain plot points relating to Ursula being banned from the pool will certainly resonate with adults, such as when the pool manager insists that he will no longer allow bears because they are too hairy while letting other, hairier animals continue to swim there. Ursula’s plight is dealt with in a way that feels realistic and organic to adults, but is simple enough conceptually for kids to understand and identify with. Furthermore, her eventual triumph with her friends shows that while you may not always be able to change the minds of hateful people, good people will always have your back.

Otherwise, the length of the book was fine for Baby Bookworm, and the illustrations were cute and simple. But to us, it was the story that really shone, particularly after the incidences of racial and gender discrimination at the 2016 Rio Olympics. And ultimately, the message is a great one for all little (and big) readers: people may try to hold you back, but never let them destroy what you love to do; just do your best and you will always win.