________________ CM . . . . Volume XIX Number 11 . . . . November 16, 2012


The Gymnastics Book: The Young Performer’s Guide to Gymnastics. 2nd. ed.

Elfi Schlegel & Claire Ross Dunn.
Richmond Hill, ON: Firefly Books, 2012.
144 pp., pbk. & hc., $19.95 (pbk.), $29.95 (hc.).
ISBN 978-1-77085-133-7 (pbk.), ISBN 978-1-77085-160-3 (hc.).

Subject Heading:
Gymnastics-Juvenile literature.

Grades 3-5 / Ages 8-10.

Review by Michelle Brown.




If you are involved in sports like diving and skating, your coach may encourage you to learn gymnastics to build your strength, flexibility, balance, coordination, agility and self-confidence. But gymnastics will make you a better athlete no matter what sport you like. The great thing about gymnastics is that everyone can enjoy the activity – not just certain athletes building certain skills. Gymnastics doesn’t just improve strength and flexibility – it also has positive effects on other aspects of your life.

With the recent London 2012 Olympics still fresh in people’s memories, many young people may have developed an interest in the popular sport of gymnastics. As the excerpt illustrates, part of the appeal of the sport is that it develops many different skills and is accessible to a wide variety of athletes.

      The Gymnastics Book is a colourful, comprehensive guide for any child who is interested in picking up the sport. Author Elfi Schlegel is recognized as one of Canada’s most successful gymnasts. She has had an award-winning career at the national and international level and is now an instructor with her own gymnastics centre.

      The format and layout of the book are excellent. The table of contents is a useful feature as it is possible to read the book as a whole or flip to specific chapters to hone in on a particular skill set. Chapter headings are colour coded which is helpful to orient readers within the text.

      Nearly every page features large, glossy, full colour photographs which illustrate each move. These are accompanied by clear, easy to understand directions. It is worth noting that the photos show boys and girls as well as children of all ages. This visual approach may help to encourage a wider audience of children to give the sport a try.

      The Gymnastics Book is organized into short, easy-to-read chapters which are surprisingly engaging and readable for nonfiction. The majority of the chapters are a step-by-step progression of skills. Earlier chapters start with the basics and slowly move on to skills that are increasingly difficult. Although some of the final moves are quite advanced, most could be performed by the majority of children (with a lot of practice and some adult supervision, of course). The remainder of the content is extremely detailed and outlines other important points to consider before trying out gymnastics. These chapters explore setting goals, proper nutrition, the costs of participating and how to balance a busy practice schedule with schoolwork and other responsibilities. These are all factors that budding young athletes may wish to discuss with their parents before they start off on their sports career.

      Although most of the book is aimed at a child audience, there are short passages here and there that seem to be more geared towards parents or teachers. This aspect is one drawback of the book as it disrupts the otherwise easy flow of the text.

      The Gymnastics Book is an informative, visually appealing guide for any child who is interested in this popular sport.

Highly Recommended.

Michelle Brown is a librarian at the Faculty of Education at the University of Ottawa in Ottawa, ON.

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

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