CM . . .
. Volume XI Number 1 . . . . September 3, 2004
If Bobbie Rosenfeld hadn't existed, she would have to be invented. Anne Dublin is doing a service to young readers, and older ones as well, by informing them about Rosenfeld's athletic achievements and her innate sense of fair play and team spirit.
Dublin outlines not only Rosenfeld's achievements in the arena of track and field that include being among the first group of female athletes to compete at the Olympics where she medaled, but also her brief but groundbreaking career as an insurance salesperson and her twenty years as a sports writer. Her sense of fair play existed before her fame and continued throughout her life.
Dublin also ensures that her readers are well aware of the social, economic and greater world events that were taking place while Rosenfeld forged her career. These events are described within their own chapters and within shaded boxes within each chapter. Older readers will enjoy the reminder of earlier times in 1920's Toronto and onward not that they were uncomplicated or without conflict but the text's photographs bring alive those times. Dublin adds to Rosenfeld's story by giving a context to the times in which she lived. In Ontario, for example, it was illegal for Blacks and Jews to own property in certain areas. This situation did not change until 1950. A timeline is supplied by the author at the back of the book so that Rosenfeld's life and career can be tracked. The bibliography and sources for additional reading on sports and history are also helpful.
The author's writing style is relaxed and has the feel of one friend relating a story to another friend. The font of the text is large and easily read. Black and white photos help to break up the text and add to the narrative as do samples of newspaper articles from the era. Rosenfeld battled prejudice against women as sports participants and as serious competing athletes. As Dublin noted, women athletes were seen as unfeminine and too weak to participate in sports. Women in sports were seen as going against "the laws of nature" . Educators, doctors, and lawmakers mostly male still believed that women were fragile, if not inferior." Rosenfeld's records, along with those of her colleagues, pointed out the fallacy in that belief. Dublin quotes an article Rosenfeld wrote for Chatelaine magazine:
Bobbie Rosenfeld: The Olympian Who Could Do Everything is a very enjoyable read about a woman whose humour, charm, political savvy and inspiring athleticism should be known to students of all ages.
J. Lynn Fraser, a freelance writer whose articles appear in international magazines and newspapers, resides in Toronto, ON.
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Copyright © the Manitoba Library Association. Reproduction for personal use is permitted only if this copyright notice is maintained. Any other reproduction is prohibited without permission.