Published by Viking
Summary: How did a state university rowing team composed of the sons of poor farmers and lumberjacks beat not only the elite Ivy League, but every team at the 1936 Olympic Games in Berlin? Here’s the story, beginning with their first day of freshman year. For Joe Rantz, one of the team members, the story goes back even further, to his impoverished childhood and repeated abandonment by his father and stepmother. Left completely on his own at the age of 15, he had to overcome deep-seated fears to learn to trust his teammates and work together with the seven other boys in the boat. A timeline and a description of “the art of rowing” are included at the end. Grades 4-8.
Pros: Joe’s story is inspiring, as is the gold-medal race, in which the U.S. team was given a disadvantageous placement by the Germans, and had to row with one of their key members gravely ill. Sports fans will enjoy learning what it took for this ragtag team to become champions.
Cons: It would have been nice to get a little more background on some of Joe’s teammates.