Wednesday, January 10, 2018

Super Star Children's Book Review: Undefeated

Welcome to the monthly children’s book review feature with a focus on diverse books here at Bird Meets Worm! My team of reviewers—Cara Chow, Denise Holmes, Joan Charles, Sharon Calle—and I are so excited to be championing books celebrating everything from gender diversity, people of color, the LGBTQ community to ethnic, cultural and religious minorities, people with disabilities and developmental challenges to controversial topics, unique family situations and anything and everything I did not include. It is to say we take a rightfully board view of diversity! We aim to shine a light on books that bring both familiar experiences to those who do not often see themselves represented in books and new experiences to those looking to expand their worldview. Here at Bird Meets Worm we believe in the power of story to build empathy and thus a better world for you and me and everyone. Look for a new review on the second Wednesday of every month.


By Steve Sheinkin
Nonfiction (ages 10-14) • 288 pages
Published by Roaring Brook Press • 2017
ISBN 1-596-43954-8

I’m about as far from being a football fan as you can get (full disclosure: I was in marching band in high school and even after attending every football game for four years, I still don’t know the rules or how the game is scored), but even I couldn’t put down this fast-paced, compelling book.

Undefeated tells the intertwined stories of Jim Thorpe, star of the Carlisle Indian School football team and legendary coach Pop Warner. These two larger-than-life figures, along with the other members of the school’s incredibly talented squad, forged the era’s “winningest” team, and along the way invented the modern game of football.

Threaded throughout the narrative is the sad history of our nation’s mistreatment of Native Americans. Thousands of young people were sent to so-called Indian boarding schools where they were forced to shed their languages, traditions, and even their Indian names in order to erase all links to their families and culture.

Far more than just a tale of underdogs, this book is exciting, sad, infuriating, and inspirational all at the same time. It stands as a true testament to the athletic prowess of Jim Thorpe and all the young men of the Carlisle Indian School football team who, against all odds, refused to accept defeat and fought their way to the top.

Buy this book:

Barnes and Noble

Independent Book Stores

Reviewed by: Joan Charles