Great Illustrated Books

What Athletes Are Made Of

By Hanoch Piven

Ginee Seo Books, 2006
Pages : 40
Suggested Ages: 7-10
ISBN: 9781416910022

According to portrait artist, Hanoch Piven, athletes are made of big mouths (Muhammad Ali), great minds (Kareem Abdul-Jabbar), teamwork (Mia Hamm), and 20 other important attributes. Each page is a visual treat—a portrait of a famous athlete, often in motion, done as a caricature, with a big head and tiny body—along with a one-paragraph anecdote exemplifying that person's special talent. Each easy-to-identify face is a 3-D collage made up of common found objects. "Athletes are made of tough stuff." That's the heading for the Joe Namath page. When you examine Joe's face, you'll see that his mouth is a tiny football, his eyes are bigger footballs, the blacking under each eye is an "admit one" game ticket, and his nose appears to be a first aid kit. The crazy thing is, it really does look like the famed quarterback, some of whose many injuries are summarized in the paragraph about him.

Your kids will think this book is amazingly cool, as will phys ed teachers and coaches who can read it aloud to their athletes as a warm-up. At the back of the book are statistics, career highlights, and thumbnail photos to which you can compare and contrast Piven's portrayals. See more of his found art portraits in his What Presidents Are Made Of and My Dog Is as Smelly as Dirty Socks: And Other Funny Family Portraits. What a fun art project this would be for a rainy afternoon—creating collage portraits out of stuff around the house. On Piven's website, where you'll see lots more of his portraits, he has a special section for children. He writes, "Why don't you try to make your own "painting" using objects. Send it to me and I'll put it in the "kid's corner."

Reviewed by : JF.


If you love this book, then try:

Adler, David A. America's Champion Swimmer: Gertrude Ederle. Harcourt, 2000. ISBN-13: 9780152052515

Brown, Don. Bright Path: Young Jim Thorpe. Roaring Brook, 2006. ISBN-13: 9781596430419

Burleigh, Robert. Home Run: The Story of Babe Ruth. Harcourt, 1998. ISBN-13: 9780152045999

Hamm, Mia. Winners Never Quit! HarperCollins, 2004. ISBN-13: 9780060740528

Krull, Kathleen. Lives of the Athletes: Thrills, Spills (and What the Neighbors Thought). Harcourt, 1995. ISBN-13: 9780152008062

Krull, Kathleen. Wilma Unlimited: How Wilma Rudolph Became the World's Fastest Woman. Harcourt, 1996. ISBN-13: 9780152020989

Littlefield, Bill. Champions: Stories of Ten Remarkable Athletes. Little, Brown, 1993. ISBN-13: 9780316528054

Moss, Marissa. Mighty Jackie, the Strike-Out Queen. Simon & Schuster, 2004. ISBN-13: 9780689863295

Piven, Hanoch. My Dog Is as Smelly as Dirty Socks: And Other Funny Family Portraits. Schwartz & Wade, 2007. ISBN-13: 9780375840524

Piven, Hanoch. What Presidents Are Made Of. Atheneum, 2004. ISBN-13: 9780689868801

Critics have said

There is just enough information to appeal to sports fans (statistics and career highlights are given at the end in the "Post-Game Recap"), and the quirky, sometimes bordering on grotesque depictions of the athletes (Lance Armstrong looks like Frankenstein) will appeal to the visually inclined.
Randall Enos, Booklist