cover image Champions: Stories of Ten Remarkable Athletes

Champions: Stories of Ten Remarkable Athletes

Bill Littlefield. Little Brown and Company, $22.95 (132pp) ISBN 978-0-316-52805-4

Littlefield is probably best known for his mordant commentaries broadcast on National Public Radio, but he is also the author of an underrated baseball novel, Prospect , and it is a novelist's art that makes this collection of profiles so compelling. Champions profiles athletes who overcame huge obstacles--discrimination, poverty, disabilities--to achieve success, often a success extending far beyond the playing field. Baseball players Satchel Paige and Roberto Clemente, jockey Julie Krone, dogsled racer Susan Butcher, boxing's Muhammad Ali and five others are presented as exemplars of individuals wholly dedicated to craft, to perfecting skills and facing challenges. Littlefield tells their stories dramatically, adroitly hitting on the larger philosophical and political points. Fuchs's evocative watercolors, full of muted earth tones that evoke the autumn, handsomely complement the text. Ages 8-up. (Sept.)