Babe Didrikson Zaharias: The Making of a Champion

 /   /  By Emma Birches
Stone Soup Magazine
March/April 2015

By Russell Freedman, Reviewed by Ben Dauphinais

Babe Didrikson Zaharias book cover

Babe Didrikson Zaharias: The Making of a
Champion, by Russell Freedman; Houghton
Mifflin Harcourt Books for Young Readers:
Boston, 2014; $10.99

Russell Freedman’s biography, Babe Didrikson Zaharias: The Making of a Champion, is a fascinating book that tells the life story of one of the greatest athletes of all time. Babe lived for sports and excelled in many of them, including golf, track and field, basketball, baseball, tennis, bowling, diving, swimming, roller skating, and boxing. Earning her nickname from baseball great George Herman “Babe” Ruth, Jr., Babe took the world of athletics by storm, despite the opposition she faced as a woman athlete in the early twentieth century.

Mildred Ella Didrikson was born on June 26, 1911, in Port Arthur, Texas. She was born into a family with five older siblings and would later become an older sibling herself. Babe grew up with a group of barefoot neighborhood kids, and she quickly became known as the local tomboy. As a child Babe seemed to find trouble. She was often sent to the principal’s office because of her pranks, and one time she was found sitting on top of the flagpole!

It wasn’t long before Babe realized her passion. She knew from a young age what she wanted to live for, and her goal was to be the greatest athlete of all time. Babe was a motivated and determined young woman who was willing to work extremely hard to achieve her goals. It was not unusual for Babe to train from early morning right up until it turned dark.

Before I read this book, I wondered if I could even relate to Babe. I quickly realized we had more in common than I thought. First, Babe and I share the same birthday, June 26. Also, I realized that Babe was an ordinary kid who loved sports, mowed lawns to earn money, and routinely found mischief, such as hitching a ride on a freight car and jumping off as it moved faster and faster!

What I enjoyed most about reading this book was the surprise and excitement the biography had in store for the reader. I felt like I became friends with Babe. I rallied with Babe as she overcame adversities, cheered with her at every victory, and was shocked when the fame-seeking tomboy from Texas wanted to spend time at home in her garden and flowers. I was angry when Babe was treated unfairly, nervous when her marriage struggled, and sad when she died at such a young age.

This is a wonderful biography and I thoroughly enjoyed reading it! Babe was a strong-willed young woman whose life demonstrated that with determination and purpose you can conquer and rise above adversities. I highly recommend this book to anyone who enjoys reading biographies.

Babe Didrikson Zaharias Ben Dauphinais

Ben Dauphinais, 11
Yadkinville, North Carolina

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