Historical events like the 1936 Olympic Games are facts: we already know what happened (or can find out in a quick internet search). The story leading up to an event like this must be done well to hold our attention: what happens to Seabiscuit along the way? How did the Titanic sink? It takes a talented author to hook the reader and keep his or her attention for the 200 pages leading up to the final event. Brown does just that, alternating chapters between Joe’s childhood and his experiences at the University of Washington. The pace is perfect, reaching a nail-biting conclusion in the final moments of the Olympic Games as Adolf Hitler looks on from the stands in Berlin. Character, hard work, teamwork, and sportsmanship are impossible to ignore, but Brown doesn’t preach. He doesn’t need to. This is a terrific read for middle school students, whether they are athletes in training or not. Try it as a family read aloud if you have middle school and up kids in your home. Or as a read aloud in a history classroom!