40 Inspiring Icons: Amazing Athletes

Quarto/Wide Eyed Editions. Jun. 2020. 96p. Tr $15.99. ISBN 9780711252547.
Gr 4 Up–This collection of amazing Olympic athletes provides a litany of facts that will fascinate and inform readers. Billioud profiles standout athletes from 40 different Olympic games, starting with 24-year-old Spyridon Louis in 1896 at the first “modern-day Summer Olympics” and ending with four-time gold medalist Simone Biles. Billioud offers an inclusive collection; he includes an equal amount of women and men and many athletes of color. Each individual is represented by a digital illustration, with arrows indicating compelling facts about the athlete or their sport. Text boxes explain what made the athlete worthy of inclusion. Younger readers may find the format slightly confusing, as the boxes are of various sizes and fonts, with inconsistent icons throughout. The only misinformed entry is the one for American athlete Tommie Smith; it states that his raised black glove on the 1968 gold medal podium stood for “Black Power.” In fact, according to a 2016 interview with Smithsonian magazine, Smith said the gesture wasn’t necessarily representative of “Black Power” or “militancy”; rather, it was a call for human rights and the “need to move forward proactively.” If readers are looking for a “best of” list of Olympic athletes, they may have found it in this collection but will need to conduct further research for more substantial information.
VERDICT Purchase where Olympic-themed sections need beefing up in preparation for Tokyo 2021.

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