A Lot or a Little?
What you will—and won't—find in this book.
Fascinating, engaging stories of extraordinary people and their accomplishments. May lead to more investigations of some of the people featured.
It's OK to be different. If you feel different, rest assured you're not alone. Being different can actually lead you to accomplish great things. Many famous people had hard childhoods or obstacles to overcome. Follow your dreams. Be true to yourself. Be whoever you want to be. Don't let the bullies get you down. Also great messages about being kind and generous and using your talents and creative vision to help others and change the world for the better.
Positive Role Models
Each of the 76 men or boys profiled is a role model. LGBTQ people, men and boys from many nations and cultures, and people of color are represented.
Violence & Scariness
Mentions of bullying, battles, someone being killed or dying, four chaplains who went down with a sinking ship during World War II after they gave up their life jackets to let others survive on lifeboats.
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Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that Ben Brooks' Stories for Boys Who Dare to Be Different offers 76 short, 8- to 10-paragraph stories of men who accomplished great things, with a full-page portrait on the facing page. There's a wide range of people, from the famous -- including Bill Gates, Jim Henson, Frederick Douglass, Oscar Wilde, Nelson Mandela, actors Daniel Radcliffe and Jesse Eisenberg, comedian Trevor Noah, soccer star Lionel Messi, author John Green -- to the not well-known, from Baldwin IV, the 12th century king of Jerusalem, to a teen who invented a tool to remove plastic trash from the sea. The message is clear: It's OK to be different.
Is It Any Good?
Young readers will find this lively, inspiring collection of stories appealing and accessible. It covers artists, inventors, writers, athletes, actors, explorers, politicians, and more. A celebration of difference, Stories for Boys Who Dare to Be Different highlights some people who broke gender or sexual identity boundaries, including Oscar Wilde, Harvey Milk, and makeup artist and international cosmetics mogul Jeffree Star. The main takeaway throughout the book is that it's OK to be different, and being different can lead to doing great things. It also shows there are all kinds of ways to be strong and successful, thereby expanding the concepts of masculinity and heroism. Illustrator Quinton Wintor's engaging portraits highlight key aspects of each person's life or career.
One quibble is that author Ben Brooks' mini-biographical sketches often leave out basic details that young readers might not miss but would be helpful for context -- details such as where the person lives or lived, or when certain events happened. A birth date or birth-death date range appears under the person's name atop each bio, but sometimes that's the bare minimum to orient the reader. For example, in the profile of Ludwig Van Beethoven, there's no mention that he was German or lived in Austria. The core tale of what happened to the person "at school" or "at home" is what comes through.
Did we miss something on diversity?
Research shows a connection between kids' healthy self-esteem and positive portrayals in media. That's why we've added a new "Diverse Representations" section to our reviews that will be rolling out on an ongoing basis. You can help us help kids by suggesting a diversity update.