Not Playing by the Rules: 21 Female Athletes Who Changed Sports

Knopf. Apr. 2020. 48p. Tr $18.99. ISBN 9781524764531.
Gr 3-7–Some of the athletes profiled here—Lisa Leslie, Venus and Serena Williams, Nadia Comaneci—are widely known and well represented in similar publications or individual biographies. But Cline-Ransome’s title includes a wide range of lesser-known athletes with often fascinating stories. For example, Yusra Mardini, a 22-year-old swimmer, fled her home in Damascus as a teen during the Syrian civil war and escaped in an overloaded boat, eventually settling in Germany. She competed in the Rio Olympics as a member of the newly formed refugee team. Alice Coachman, the African American sprinter and high jumper who won a gold medal at the 1948 Olympics in London, returned home to Albany, GA, for a hero’s reception in a segregated auditorium where the mayor refused to shake her hand. Several of the athletes compete with significant disabilities. Full-page photos of all the athletes accompany the one-page biographical sketches. Each photo is overlaid with a motivational statement, such as, “When we fall, we have to get up again and again,” from amputee skier Diana Golden. It’s not clear, however, whether these are statements made by the athletes or what their original contexts might have been. Photo credits are listed with the copyright information.
VERDICT While at times this is an intriguing read and a provocative conversation starter, the absence of an index or sources for research makes it an additional selection for libraries.

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