Welcome to SPORTY GIRL BOOKS. At SPORTY GIRL, we want to give all girls the chance to love, watch, play, read, and write about any sport that interests them. We look forward to the day when the words, "You play like a girl," is the biggest compliment anyone can receive.

Friday, March 8, 2024

Book Review for #InternationalWomensDay : THE GIRL WHO FIGURED IT OUT

By Brenda Barrera
Hot off the press and just in time to celebrate International Women's Day (March 8) is a book I’ve been eagerly waiting for: THE GIRL WHO FIGURED IT OUT by Minda Dentler and illustrated by Stephanie Dehennin (Sourcebooks, 2024). I did my first triathlon in 1986 and still compete in short distances, so I’ve witnessed the sport’s growth and, just as important, expanding the field to include and support athletes like Minda Dentler.

Born in India, Minda contracted polio (a life-threatening virus), which caused paralysis, and the doctor said she would never be able to walk. Wanting a better life for her daughter, Minda’s birth mother put her up for adoption, and the Dentlers from Spokane, Washington, welcomed her into their loving family.

Minda shares the frustrations of growing up with leg braces and not fitting in due to physical challenges. One specific line in the book that made me stop and re-read was this one: “Some adults talked over me because they could only see my disability.” An eye-opening lesson for adults. Her parents remind her that she can do what she wants, and her dad’s words reinforce the positive message: “You can do it, Minda. Just figure it out.” As an adult, she moves to New York where she joins a running group for people with disabilities and participates on a handcycle. After learning how to swim “one stroke at a time,” she competes in the triathlons.

THE GIRL WHO FIGURED IT OUT is an inspirational sporty girl story about adoption, inclusion, perseverance, and reaching goals. Minda Dentler is an athlete who becomes stronger, smarter, and more confident with each obstacle she overcomes and also cements her mark in sports history as the first female wheelchair athlete to complete one of the world’s most challenging endurance events The Ironman World Championship: 2.4-mile swim, 112-mile cycle, and 26.2-mile run!

Dehennin’s illustrations are stunning with a pallet of rich, vibrant colors, and the back matter supplements the text with informative boxes: What is polio, What is an Ironman World Championship, and description of adaptive equipment: handcycle and racing wheelchair.

Sunday, February 4, 2024


My book pick for this year’s February 7, 2024, celebration of National Girls and Women in Sports Day (NGWSD) is WIBBLE WOBBLE BOOM! by Mary Ann Rodman and illustrated by Holly Sterling (Peachtree Publishing). This follows Claire’s first day at ice-skating class. Like most fans of the sport, you can watch from the comfort of your couch and it may seem effortless—until you lace up a pair of ice skates with a single edged-blade and try to navigate gracefully across a slippery and cold ice rink. Claire’s enthusiasm is stifled by having brown (not white) ice skates and being intimidated by a boy who’s a hockey player. Fortunately, Miss Nicole (the instructor) kept the lesson light and encouragement positive. By the end of the book, Claire made a new friend and skates across the rink with confidence.

WIBBLE WOBBLE BOOM! Is an empowering sporty picture book featuring a young black girl who may not do sit spins or master a figure-eight on the first day but is on her way to enjoying a new sport and learning new skills. An encouraging story with delightful, expressive illustrations that reflect diversity among the children.

Photo: Back in the 1980s I took my friend from Kentucky ice-skating for her first time at an indoor rink in Chicago — check out our brown ice skates!