A Sporting Chance: How Ludwig Guttmann Created the Paralympic Games

Lori Alexander, illus. by Allan Drummond. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, $17.99 (128p) ISBN 978-1-328-58079-5
Alexander (All in a Drop) brings her accessible storytelling to this well-researched account of the man behind today’s Paralympic Games. Jewish neurologist Ludwig Guttmann escaped Hitler’s Germany to Britain and later founded a spinal injuries treatment center for wounded soldiers. Fourteen short chapters seamlessly flesh out Guttmann’s life and detail how his radical-for-the-time treatment plans—which included occupational therapy and sports such as archery and wheelchair basketball—helped patients formerly known as “incurables” to live and thrive. Competitions he organized for patients who had paraplegia later evolved into the Paralympics. Illustrated vignettes by Drummond (Pedal Power), as well as numerous archival photos and simple medical diagrams, keep the narrative moving apace, though some, including a cartoon-style soldier struck by shrapnel, appear lighthearted for the subject matter; sidebars detail paraplegia, the nervous system, and the historical treatment of people with disabilities. Brief portraits of six Paralympic medalists conclude this inspirational biography, which highlights the power of sport to motivate and heal while demonstrating how the dedication of one pioneering doctor continues to mean a life-changing difference for many. A timeline, extensive bibliography, and index are included. Final art not seen by PW. Ages 7–10. Author’s agent: Kathleen Rushall, Andrea Brown Literary. (Apr.)
Reviewed on : 01/23/2020
Release date: 04/07/2020
Genre: Children's
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