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Countdown! It’s only 51 days until the opening ceremony for the 2016 Summer Olympic Games in Rio! If asked, I’m sure many female Olympic competitors will share an anecdote about watching the Olympics on TV as a child and daydream about a day when they might stand atop a podium watching their country flag rise above the crowds to the sound of their national anthem. I wonder what sports books they might have read as a child that provided similar inspiration? I came across a non-fiction picture book, SPORT-O-RAMA, by award-winning Canadian illustrator Benoit Tardif that I think would be a contender for a future superstar's “books that inspired me as a child” list.
What makes SPORT-O-RAMA so engaging are the simple, yet delightful illustrations in bold, primary colors and the subtle sense of humor displayed throughout. Each of the 23 sports from Badminton to Volleyball includes brief descriptions of the venue (court, pool, rink) and equipment (birdie, saddle, sailboat), plus fundamentals (tailwind vs. headwind and bump vs. block).
The illustrations are informative like those for golf that show the difference between golf clubs: a wood, iron, and putter and rowing that show the stroke phase of drive and recovery. A few entries, however, are confusing like the fencing entry shows a lamé (jacket) and eight lines of parry, but unless you’re familiar with the sport, it’s not clear what they mean even though the back matter does include a helpful description of each sport along with a glossary.
Readers are sure to giggle at the golfer who hits an “unplayable ball” into the mouth of a “real alligator” or the girl, a black belt judoka, does an arm lock on an opponent who exclaims, “Oh, no! Not again!” And who doesn’t like halftime entertainment? A clever middle spread illustration provides a search and count challenge. SPORT-O-RAMA, full of word play and introductory vocabulary, is a fun read for little sporty girls to older sporty girls who are looking forward to the 2016 Olympic Summer Games.
For more information about Benoit Tardif via Kids Can Press