CM . . .
. Volume XIX Number 27. . . .March 15, 2013
Take Off Track and Field is one of 20 books in the “Sports Starters” series designed to introduce young readers to a variety of popular sports. Like the other titles in the series, this book is comprised of 14 chapters which outline the featured sport and provide basic information about the object of the game or competition, venues, rules, scoring, equipment, the specific skills required in order to take part, and some of the better known athletes in the field. The last chapter offers tips on how to get started and where to find a team, school or club, although these tips are just common sense and not very helpful. Text is large, with usually a single paragraph per page. Colourful action shots and diagrams, all suitably labeled, enhance the text. Both males and females are shown participating in the sports. A table of contents, a glossary and an index are included.
Track and field consists of running, jumping or throwing events or a combination. Some events are performed independently while others, such as a relay race, require a four-person team. Take Off Track and Field provides basic information about racing- the rules, starting blocks, the whistle, and staggered versus regular starting lines. In this title, readers will also learn about different types of races (sprints versus long distance); events which involve clearing obstacles (hurdles, pole vault, high jump); jumping events (long jump, triple jump, and hop, step and jump); throwing events (javelin, shot put, discus and hammer throw); and the combined events (pentathlon, heptathlon and decathlon). These events are explained in fairly simple terms with regard to rules and judging and how the winner is determined. There is also a section devoted to the history of track and field and the various competitions- the Pan Am Games, the Olympics and the World Championships- as well as some of the record holders in the sport, including Jamaica’s Usain Bolt, dubbed “the world’s fastest man”.
Take Off Track and Field does a good job of explaining the various track and field events for its target audience. However, there could have been a double-page spread devoted to how participating athletes build up their strength and stamina. And, though the book is meant for very young readers, only those children who watch Olympic events on television or who attend their older siblings’ track meets would find this title interesting. Other than individual and relay races, track and field events are taught at the junior and senior high school levels. Consequently, these events would not have much relevance for such a young audience.
Gail Hamilton is a former teacher-librarian in Winnipeg, MB.
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