Marvelous Mabel

By Booklist

Mabel Fairbanks is not a household name, but young readers interested in figure skating and the early twentieth century will enjoy learning about her story in this picture-book biography. Touching briefly on her younger years as an orphan and her experiences with homelessness, this biography zeroes in on Mabel’s initial foray into figure skating. Moving from a pond in Central Park into an ingenious dry-ice creation in her bedroom, Mabel spins and swirls all around the pages. The simple, no-nonsense illustrations coupled with the longer-form writing allows upper elementary school readers a chance to explore not only a moment in American history but an untold moment in sports history. The prose is welcoming to the reader while still offering some challenging vocabulary related to the sport, and the strong afterword explains why this might be the first time you’ve seen Mabel Fairbanks on the page. Fans of the Winter Olympics, strong female characters, and underdog stories will flock to this title.