Monday, July 17, 2017

Non-Fiction Monday: As Strong as Sandow by Don Tate

As Strong as Sandow: how Eugen Sandow became the strongest man on Earth by Don Tate. 40 p. Charlesbridge, August 22, 2017. 9781580896283. (Review from finished copy courtesy of publisher ALAAC17)

Eugen Sandow was born Friedrich Muller in 1867. He was frail and skinny growing up in Prussia in the 1800s. But he transformed himself into a healthy, hulky, hunky specimen as an adult. It was after a trip to Italy, where he viewed sculptures of ancient athletes that he was inspired to become strong like them and began to exercise. He exercised through his teens and left for university, where he studied anatomy. He ran away from college to join a circus, where he worked as an acrobat. When the circus ran out of money, he supported himself by posing for artists. Eventually, he came under the tutelage of Professor Attila, a professional strongman. By the time he was twenty, he changed his name to Eugen Sandow and went on the road billed as the Strongest Man on Earth. 

Author/illustrator Don Tate brings the father of modern bodybuilding to vivid life with simple flowing text born of extensive research and mixed media illustrations that depict the period and Sandow's life with a muted palette and much humor. Additional information as well as a photo is supplied in an Afterword. A page is also devoted to encouraging young readers to exercise and stay active. Four exercise suggestions are provided. In an author's note, readers discover that Mr. Tate's own interest in bodybuilding and competing helped inspire the book. Backmatter continues with a list of 18 books and websites for further reading, quotation sources and photo credits. 

Strong as Sandow is a fine addition to any collection. I plan on adding it to a unit on picture book biographies for my sixth graders come fall. 

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