________________ CM . . . . Volume XI Number 1 . . . . September 3, 2004


Bobbie Rosenfeld: The Olympian Who Could Do Everything.

Anne Dublin.
Toronto, ON: Second Story Press, 2004.
148 pp., pbk., $14.95.
ISBN 1-896764-82-7.

Subject Headings:
Rosenfeld, Bobbie, 1904-1969-Juvenile literature.
Women Athletes-Canada-Biography-Juvenile literature.
Women Sportswriters-Canada-Biography-Juvenile literature.

Grades 7 and up / Ages 12 and up.

Review by J. Lynn Fraser.

**** /4

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.

One of the many incidences of team spirit Rosenfeld displayed was during an Olympic running race where she ran along side a colleague, sacrificing her own chance at winning, while encouraging her Canadian teammate to stay in the race and finish (pp. 71-72).

     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:

The modern girl is a better worker and a happier woman by reason of the healthy pleasure she takes in tennis, hockey, lacrosse, swimming, running, jumping and other sports. (p.73)

     Dublin also points out that Rosenfeld "discussed the legal and political implications within women's sports and how these affected all women." Rosenfeld also wrote about "women in society and women's contribution to the war effort" as well as about "the greed and corruption that had regrettably become a part of professional sports." These discussions and issues will, without doubt, strike an older reader as painfully familiar.

     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.

Highly Recommended.

J. Lynn Fraser, a freelance writer whose articles appear in international magazines and newspapers, resides in Toronto, ON.

To comment on this title or this review, send mail to cm@umanitoba.ca.

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