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NOT PLAYING BY THE RULES by Lesa Cline-Ransome


21 Female Athletes Who Changed Sports

by Lesa Cline-Ransome

Pub Date: April 21st, 2020
ISBN: 978-1-5247-6453-1
Publisher: Knopf

Focusing on mostly U.S. athletes, Cline-Ransome offers snapshots of some revolutionary athletes who brought change to the gender makeup of sports.

Organized by date of birth, starting with Constance Applebee, a British immigrant who, in the early 1900s, brought field hockey to U.S. college campuses as a women’s sport, and ending with present-day baseball star Mo’ne Davis, this showcases a small selection of women athletes in successive double-page spreads. The design is flashy, but it also gets in the way of the book’s effectiveness. Each bio includes a full-page photo with an inspirational quote printed over it in cursive type; these are unreferenced, often decontextualized, and sometimes confusing. Within the bios, the writing is engaging, with ample use of direct quotes by and about athletes, capturing their personalities and achievements. There is no introduction, however, and with no statement of scope or mission, it leaves readers to wonder why these specific athletes and facts were chosen. The hard-to-read white text on brightly colored backgrounds is at times anecdotal, and with no source notes or any kind of bibliographic references, readers cannot follow up or verify details. Each bio ends midcareer, but a backmatter section titled “After the Whistle” gives a wrap-up of each athlete’s life. Unfortunately, the absence of pagination will make it hard for young readers to cross-reference these with the main bios, and it is only here where the athletes’ more controversial sides come to light.

Multiple design flaws make this a hard pass.

(Collective biography. 10-14)