Strong Man: The Story of Charles Atlas by Meghan McCarthy. (Grades K-3)
Knopf Books for Young Readers, 2007.
When Angelo Siciliano arrived in America in 1905, he was a weakling. Tired of being picked on by bullies, Angelo decided to change his body and grow stronger. He started exercising to build his muscles and eventually became one of the first bodybuilders, changing his name to Charles Atlas. He was crowned "The World's Most Perfectly Developed Man" and his measurements are on file as "the perfect specimen of the human body". The exercise program he developed is still being marketed today.
Besides exercising to build muscles, Atlas promoted a healthy lifestyle including proper nutrition, abstaining from alcohol and tobacco, and keeping oneself neat and clean. He was an inspiration for millions, keeping his perfect form even as he aged into his 70s.
As Americans continue to struggle with issues of obesity and health, this is an important story that should be shared with kids. The bright colors, cartoonish illustrations, and simple prose make the story very accessible to young readers. Stories of Atlas's strong-man stunts (like tearing telephone books in half and pulling a train with his bare hands) will pique readers' interest. McCarthy includes information about some of Atlas's recommended exercises and an author's note to fill in the details of Atlas's life.
I love picture book biographies like this one because I learn about people that I never would have known about. This is definitely worth checking out and I'll be looking for more of Meghan McCarthy's stuff! Definitely check out Meghan's website where she has a lot of cool stuff including coloring pages and a tour of her artist's studio.
Check out more reviews at A Fuse #8 Production and The Kiddosphere @ Fauquier and read Meghan's thoughts about researching for nonfiction picture books.
Happy Nonfiction Monday! Sally's got the roundup at All About Children's Books.