Book Review: The Martial Arts Book

Reading Level

Ages 9-12

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This slim book packs a lot of punch. It strikes the right chord in relating its story of the beginnings of martial arts, and it neither talks down to nor talks over the head of its audience.

The Martial Arts Book is the author's first book, but you'd never know it. An editor, Laura Scandiffio is on the other side of the page this time around, and she relates her material with skill and flair. The images of times past come alive on the page, mostly through words but also sometimes through illustrations (by Nicolas Debon) that add power to the narrative.

The author touches on all the major disciplines, including kung fu, karate, tai chi, aikido, kendo, judo, and tae kwon do. Along the way, the reader absorbs facts and figures as well as engrossing stories of brains over brawn, mind over matter, and philosophy over anger. The book alternates between such common fare as ninjas and samurai and such often ignored subjects as the Five Animals and self-healing.

And, remembering her audience, Scandiffio includes information about martial kids as practiced by kids.

All in all, I found this book enjoyable and informative. The prose is lyrical and easy to read, and the subject matter is engrossing and appealing. I kept wanting to read stories again and again.

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Social Studies for Kids
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David White