Wednesday, November 01, 2006


WHAT ATHLETES ARE MADE OF by Hanoch Piven (Atheneum)

Photographed collage illustrations a la Joan Steiner's LOOK-ALIKES utlizes everyday objects in ingenious ways to create fantastic portraits of twenty three sport superstars representing both genders and a variety of sports and cultural/racial backgrounds. Babe Rith has a hot dog for a mouth (he did eat eight of them at Coney Island one afternoon), David Beckham has pink nail polish bottle for a nose (he painted his nails to match his girlfriend's), and every page has such a thoughtful visual detail to point out and discuss. Though the clever pictures will be pored over again and again, the anecdotes are equally strong: "Once when [Mohammed Ali] was on a plane, the flight attendant told him to fasten his seat belt. 'Superman don't need no seat belt,' he bragged. 'Well, Superman don't need to airplane,' she shot back. Ali fastened his seat belt." Also inspiring is how Pele pressed the pause button on the war between Biafra and Nigeria for two days just by playing his game, and the advice given to children by Kareem Abdul-Jabbar: "You should have dreams as students in addition to having dreams as athletes." A "post game recap" at the end of the book contains real photos, stats and career highlights for every game-player named. A strong addition to any biography or sports collection, it's also a fantastic read-aloud.I know, because I had the pleasure of having a sixth grade boy read it to me cover-to-cover, without my asking, because he thought it was that good. Do you need another reason to get your hands on this one? Home run, goal, touchdown! The crowd goes wild for this, the kind of book boys battle to be next in line to read. (7 and up)

Also of interest:
By the same author, in the same artistic style (since this one will leave you wanting more),
WHAT PRESIDENTS ARE MADE OF (Atheneum), just in time for Election Day! And
FACES: 78 PORTRAITS FROM MADONNA TO THE POPE (Pomegranite), decidely more grown-up, but good fun for any fan of pop culture...good for upper-grade social studies discussion as well.

Links are provided for informational use. Don't forget to support your local bookseller.

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