Sports are Fantastic Fun
No gonna lie, I just went to the juvenile nonfiction section of my library and found the sports section to find something for the Sports Ball Bingo square. I’m not all that into sports, and there were other squares that interested me more. But I found some interesting picks!
Sports are Fantastic Fun reads like one of the videos from the 1950’s that they would have featured in Mystery Science Theater 3000. But it’s paired with fun, whimsical illustrations of animals doing the sports, and that makes it cute. The art style reminds me a bit of Liz Climo. I think it was originally written in German, too.
Despite it’s 1950’s vibe, it does provide a decent introduction to a whole bunch of different sports! It goes over basic rules for the different sports and presents them in simple, easy to understand words. (I still don’t understand cricket, though…) The author apparently has some beef with ballet, though, because he says “Is ballet a sport? We’re not sure,” but he doesn’t hesitate to call rhythmic gymnastics a sport. That’s cold, man.
Also in our nonfiction section was Ancient Greece and the Olympics, which is a nonfiction companion book to one of the Magic Tree House books, Hour of the Olympics. The series is very popular with kids, so I decided to see what it was all about.
I’ve never read any of the Magic Tree House series, but I’m assuming they all pretty much follow the same format. Hour of the Olympics is not the first in the series, but I wasn’t too taxed in trying to catch up. The kids, Jack and Annie, have a magic tree house somewhere that’s full of books, and when they point to a picture in a book, they are transported to that time and place. Morgan le Fey is somehow involved, but that’s not really all that important.
In this book, Jack and Annie are going back to ancient Greece to rescue a story. I thought this was going to be about the first Olympics, and it is, but it’s also about how restrictive it was to be a woman back then. Women couldn’t be authors, couldn’t act in plays, and couldn’t attend men’s sporting events, which included the Olympics. (At one point, Annie does something dumb, but she’s a kid. Still, if she had paid more attention and kept her mouth shut, it would have saved both kids a lot of aggravation!) One thing I do like about the book is that it teaches kids how to take notes. Jack takes notes in his notebook, and doesn’t write down what people tell him verbatim, but he writes down the general idea or fact in his own words. Good job stealth-teaching kids a valuable skill! I can see how these books can be valuable in a classroom setting.
Speaking of classrooms, the companion book was also very good. I can see how it would appeal to kids with the Jack and Annie characters chiming in on almost every page with a fun fact. There are also pronunciation guides for words that may be difficult, new, or in a different language. The first half of this book was about ancient Greece, including an introduction to the location, religion, daily life, and culture. Then it went into the first Olympic games, and ends with a very brief section on the modern Olympics. The book does include a “further research” section at the back, which can get a bit dicey. Those resources were hopefully current when the book was published in 2004, but some of those are out of date now. Two of the url’s listed no longer work, although one of them may still exist somewhere else on the page.
(This fulfills the 2021 CBR 13 square of “Sports Ball”)