Sports Heroes: Inspiring Tales of Athletes Who Stood Up and Stood Out (Mia Cassany & Iker Ayestaran)

Hello, friends! Our book today is Sports Heroes: Inspiring Tales of Athletes Who Stood Up and Stood Out by Mia Cassany and Iker Ayestaran, translated by Howard Curtis, a collection of groundbreaking and change-making figures in the world of sports.

The world of professional sports is all about perseverance and achievement, especially for those who embody the new, the different, or the unconventional. This selection of sixteen mini-biographies introduces young readers to athletes who broke the mold in some way, whether they were innovators like Dick Fosbury and Sonja Henie, barrier-breakers like Jackie Robinson and Katherine Switzer, or incredible achievers like Nadia Comăneci and Pelé.

Intriguing yet limited. While the stories covered in this compendium are most certainly interesting and inspiring, there are noticeable gaps in both the information provided in their blurbs and in diversity of representation. Very brief bios (3-5 paragraphs apiece) often feel rushed and/or incomplete, and frequently end abruptly without exploring the impact of the facts or theme presented (such as the fact that cyclist Gino Bartali spent the WWII years of his competitive career as a smuggler working to liberate 800 Jewish people, something only mentioned briefly in the penultimate sentence of the last paragraph of his page). There is also a notable lack of diversity: most of the athletes featured are male, most are white, half are American, and none have disabilities. Otherwise, Ayestaran’s boldly-colored mid-century-style illustrations are very appealing, the length is fine for an older elementary or middle-grade reader, and JJ enjoyed the stories I read to her, but I can’t help but feel like we’ve seen this genre done better and more thoroughly in other titles. Overall, a nice place to begin learning about athletic innovators, but incomplete on its own. Baby Bookworm approved, but barely.

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