The Long-Lost Secret Diary of the World’s Worst Olympic Athlete

Jolly Fish Pr. (Long-Lost Secret Diary). Sept. 2020. 208p. Tr $28.50. ISBN 9781631634451; pap. $9.99. ISBN 9781631634468.
Gr 3-6–An unnamed unheroic lad retells his adventures competing in the Olympic Games with an appealing combination of bravado and humor. As an assistant to the Athenian representative of the ancient games, the hero weaves facts about daily life into the narrative, alongside short factual paragraphs set off with the caption “Get Real.” The format is identical to other entries by the same author and illustrator in the series. The humor, line drawing illustrations, and predictability of the plot make it useful to reluctant readers, but it’s not a necessary purchase. The whimsical pen-and-ink illustrations are appealing and provide support for readers unfamiliar with ancient Greece, as does the glossary at the end. Fictionalized history proves to be a relatively painless way to discover fifth-century Greece. The time line, which dates from 776 BCE to the 2020 postponement of the Games, combined with a short list of Olympic heroes from ancient and modern times in the back matter add to the value. If the 2020 Olympics had not been pushed back, this title could have seen more demand.
VERDICT A useful package for reluctant readers; for reports where the topic is of interest.

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