cover image Strong


Rob Kearney and Eric Rosswood, illus. by Nidhi Chanani. Little, Brown, $17.99 (40p) ISBN 978-0-316-29290-0

Growing up, Rob Kearney loved feeling strong: “He lifted HEAVY boxes, opened the TIGHTEST pickle jars, and always brought the groceries into the house in one trip.” As he matures, he plays football, cheerleads, and weightlifts until, at 17, he learns about strongman competitions. Interested in becoming a weightlifting champion, Kearney trains until he can lift 400 pounds (“That’s more than 114 BIRTHDAY CAKES WITH CHOCOLATE FROSTING AND CONFETTI SPRINKLES!”). He even skips wearing vibrantly hued clothes, adhering to the cliché around masculinity that “strongmen do not wear bright, bold colors.” But in chatting with now-husband Joey, Kearney learns that expressing himself authentically is what makes him strong. Authors Kearney and Rosswood develop this picture book memoir about the world’s first openly gay strongman using emphatic text, while Chanani’s vivid hues emphasize Kearney’s bold aesthetic, and depict his 2017 North American Strongest Man Championship donning his iconic rainbow mohawk. Back matter includes a letter from Kearney, further reading, and information about strongman competitions. Ages 4–8. (May)