Book Review: Trailblazers: Simone Biles
Trailblazers: Simone Biles
Written by Sally J. Morgan
Published by Little Tiger Books
Publication date: 14th May 2020
Summary (from Little Tiger Books):
Be inspired by the lives of trailblazers past and present in this fun and factual biography series!
How did Simone Biles become a superstar athlete and gold medallist? On a daytrip to the local sports centre, Simone discovered her natural talent for gymnastics. She signed up for regular training sessions and was soon performing incredible routines at competitions. Despite a challenging start in life, Simone went on to become one of the world’s greatest athletes. Find out how this gymnast toughed it out in training and went on to win four Olympic gold medals.
TRAILBLAZERS biographies are packed with little-known trivia, fascinating facts and lively illustrations.
First impressions: I leapt at the chance to read this as soon as I spotted it! I love books about gymnastics (there aren’t enough of them, but here are two: My First Book of Gymnastics and Break the Fall) and feel that Simone Biles is an inspirational athlete. With my teacher hat on, I was also excited to check out a title from the Trailblazers sereis as the non-fiction section in our school library, particularly biography, could do with some serious sprucing up and modernising.
When this book arrived through my postbox I immediately picked it up, intending to have a quick flick through it…instead I ended up reading the whole thing from start to finish – whoops!
Simone Biles made headlines when she won four gold medals at the 2016 Rio Olympics, wowing everyone with a powerful floor routine and by the joy she showed in her sport. She is now the third most-decorated gymnast in the world with a total of 30 Olympic and World Championship medals!
And yet, it so easily could have ended differently as Simone overcame lots of difficulties on her road to super stardom. She is one of the few gymnasts that even people who aren’t fans of gymnastics can name, making it obvious why she is worthy of the title, Greatest Gymnast of All Time!
This book is laid out clearly and split into short sections which make reading it enjoyable and informative. Each stage of Simone’s life and career is discussed and each piece of gymnastics apparatus is given a spotlight to help non-specialists feel at ease. The book touches briefly on Larry Nassar, the doctor who abused some gymnasts under his care.
(This inspired the recent YA book, Break the Fall.)
As a teacher, at first I worried that this might be a difficult topic for younger readers to encounter, especially if they weren’t entirely sure what was being discussed. However, on the very next page there is a sensitively-worded and child-friendly explanation. As always, if you are concerned in any way, set aside time to read the book yourself, then discuss it with your child.
Trailblazers: Simone Biles is a worthy addition to what seems like an excellent series and is perfect for readers aged 7+, with the illustrations, clear layout and interesting facts. It is sure to inspire children, gymnasts or not!
Watch Simone’s Olympic routine below – she makes it look easy! I can’t wait to see what she will do in the 2021 Olympics, even though Simone has admitted that the postponement will be tough for her both physically and mentally.
What I liked: Accessible format which is sure to make this popular with readers aged 7+, Fact boxes which introduced specific gymnastics terminology meaning that even someone without a knowledge of the sport could understand what was being discussed, more books about gymnastics is always a positive as well as the fact that Simone Biles herself is an excellent role model for young women everywhere.
Even better if: It is a fantastic book! The only problem is that I will now have to go out and get the rest of the books in the Trailblazers series as they are what the non-fiction section in our library is crying out for!
How you could use it in your classroom: As I mentioned above, I will be tracking down other books in this series to add to the non-fiction section of our school library and classroom book corners. It would be great to dip into this during lessons too as there are lots of potential topics for discussion, such as Simone’s training regime, the problems she overcame and the Olympics, etc.
Find out more about Simone on her official website.
Here are the other titles currently available in the Trailblazers biography series – which one should I read first?
(Thank you to Little Tiger Publishing for my review copy)
What did other people think?
“The “Trailblazers” series is the next step up from the “Who Is?” titles, in terms of the length and the depth of information.” —School Library Journal (from the Penguin Random House website)
While you’re here, why not check out my reviews of Rebel Dogs, Shadow Weaver, Run Wild, The Storm Keeper’s Island, No Ballet Shoes in Syria, The Longest Night of Charlie Noon, Houdini and the Five-Cent Circus, Black Water or House Without Walls?
Thanks for reading!