This book teaches kids that some of the heroes of sports weren't held back by their humble, oppressive beginnings.
Written geared toward children, obviously, but being clueless about sports, I didn't know any of this. The author took well known athletes and showed their upbringing and struggles to get to the top. Babe Ruth opens the book, and perhaps had the most heartbreaking story. He and the next, Jackie Robinson, both showed that having one person in their corner made all the difference in turning their lives around, redirecting their negative energies into positive things, and turning mentors into heroes. The wife of Babe Ruth ends his chapter with these wise words that sums it up: "When Babe Ruth was twenty-three, the world loved him," she said. "When he was thirteen, only Brother Matthias loved him." With Jackie, so much animosity was overcome because of racism, his pastor helped a lot of the kids.
The third story is on the tennis star, Billie Jean King, who had remarkable determination despite poverty, racism, and her parents being the only backers in her corner until later. Peyton Manning was a strange story because it was the only one did that not showcase what he grew up to do, instead talking about a struggle with dancing in front of everyone at a play. Danica Patrick was covered with being fearless and racing...fast, but I didn't feel the same empathy with her.
The second section was called family matters, focusing on Bobby Orr, Michael Jordan (he WAS clumsy), Tiger Woods, who was a prodigy from the start, Yao Ming, and Gabrielle Douglas.
Finally the third section is on Practice makes perfect, opening with Babe Didrikson Zaharrias (what a remarkable girl and woman!), Bruce Lee (had no idea he was such a troublemaker and rough), Mahammad Ali, Jesse Kuhaula, Julie Krone and the Marvelous Mischievious Pony (this was an endearing story about a pony more than the sports star) and ends with Lionel Messi.
A lot of these stories have poverty and setbacks as a shared bond, with determination and having that special person in your corner being the instigator for success. It's inspiring for kids, especially those who want to delve into sports. There are cute illustrations, some of them cleverly humorous, to help the book along. There are no actual pictures of the sport stars themselves.
Received from the publisher as part of a Read-a-thon Winning