Book Review: Freeze Frame

Reading Level

Ages 9-12

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The Winter Olympics
The First Winter Olympics
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Coming out just in time to celebrate the 2006 Winter Olympics is this wonderful book, which chronicles the history of the Winter Games in words and pictures.

The book, from Sue Macy and National Geographic, does a wonderful of chronicling the difficulties that the Olympic movement had getting the Winter Olympics off the ground, from the fear of Nordic domination to weather concerns to just plain apathy for anything but summer Games. (Click here for an interview with the author.)

But the book soon leaves a chronological approach for a more theme-focused set of chapters, such as Intimate Conflicts and Going to Extremes. The former chronicles such controversies as the Nancy Kerrigan–Tonya Harding blowup and the 2002 ice dancing controversy (after which a judge admitted to assigning scores prematurely). The latter shines the spotlight on more recent additions to the Winter Games lineup, such as snowboarding, skeleton, and short track speed skating.

This being a pictorial history, photos of famous Winter Olympians are required, and the editors do not disappoint. The book is graced throughout with stellar photographs of Eric Heiden, Bonnie Blair, the 1980 U.S. hockey team, Ulrich Salchow (who invented the figure skating move that bears his name), Sonja Henie, skiing expert "Toni" Sailer (who won the 1956 giant slalom by 6.2 seconds, still the largest margin of victory in any skiing event), Jean-Claude Killy, Peggy Fleming, Bjorn Dahlile, Apolo Anton Ohno and many more. Especially compelling is a two-page spread titled Celebrating, which shows athletes at their festive best, celebrating their Olympic accomplishments in spontaneous and entertainingly fresh ways.

It wouldn't be a National Geographic production without facts and figures, of course, and these don't disappoint, either. Far from it, actually. The Olympic Almanac opens with an atlas with markers showing geographic locations of every Winter Olympics venue, a list of the youngest and oldest medalists, and pictorial snapshots of each Games.

All in all, this is a wonderful book, full of vibrant pictures and stories, sure to please Olympics fans everywhere.

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