Unfortunately, your access has now expired. But there’s good news—by subscribing today, you will receive 22 issues of Booklist magazine, 4 issues of Book Links, and single-login access to Booklist Online and over 200,000 reviews.
Your access to Booklist Online has expired. If you still subscribe to the print magazine, please proceed to your profile page and check your subscriber number against a current magazine mailing label. (If your print subscription has lapsed, you will need to renew.)
Register or subscribe today
Find more Booklist Backlist
Like it or not, professional wrestling has always been popular with children—of all ages—and why shouldn’t it be? Wrestling is a unique form of theater, more about storytelling than dangerously roided-out meatheads smashing each other’s spray-tanned faces into steel objects. And it can provide a natural gateway into other storytelling forms, including books. The following titles are sure to pump up young wrestling fans, bringing the glamour, drama, and excitement of the squared circle to the page.
Bump. By Matt Wallace. 2021. HarperCollins/Katherine Tegen, $16.99 (9780063007987). Gr. 3–6.
After 12-year-old MJ discovers a school for aspiring wrestlers, she finds belonging in the sport and its community. Wallace, drawing on his own pro-wrestling experience, paints an authentic picture of the wrestling business, coloring the story with loathsome bad guys, dramatic promos, and exciting action.
Kid Coach. By Rob Justus. Illus. by the author. 2020. Page Street, $17.99 (9781624148866). K–Gr. 2.
After Kid Coach enters his couch-potato dad into the Wrestle-Rumble Mania Kingdom Tournament of Champions, Dad squashes the competition but turns heel, becoming rude and arrogant. Justus’ colorful, energetic illustrations make this a joyously over-the-top pro-wrestling spectacle.
Maximilian & the Mystery of the Guardian Angel. By Xavier Garza. Illus. by the author. 2011. Cinco Puntos, $12.95 (9781933693989). Gr. 3–6.
In this bilingual Belpré Honor book, 11-year-old Maximilian dreams of becoming a luchador on the Mexican wrestling circuit. After he accidentally comes face to face with his hero, El Àngel de la Guarda, what develops is a rapid sequence of holds and high-flying adventures.
Niño Wrestles the World. By Yuyi Morales. Illus. by the author. 2013. Roaring Brook/Neal Porter, $16.99 (9781596436046). PreS–Gr. 1.
A boy in underwear and a luchador mask faces a series of villainous contenders, but Niño prevails thanks to his signature moves. Morales’ dynamic art includes title cards in Spanish and a pile of nonsensical action words, lending an authentic lucha libre feel. The fun continues in Rudas: Niño’s Horrendous Hermanitas (2016).
Russell Wrestles the Relatives. By Cindy Chambers Johnson. Illus. by Daniel Duncan. 2018. Aladdin, $17.99 (9781481491594). Gr. 1–3.
Worried he’ll be “squished” when his relatives—all professional wrestlers—rumble in for a reunion, Russell tries to hide, but after his mom drags him out, he discovers that he has moves of his own. Cartoon illustrations bring the family to colorful, comical life.
Slamdown Town. By Maxwell Nicoll and Matthew Smith. 2020. Abrams, $14.99 (9781419738852). Gr. 4–6.
Eleven-year-old Ollie gains insight into what it means to be a good friend and brother after acquiring a used wad of bubble gum that transforms him into a hulking pro wrestler whenever he chews it. Hilarious caricatures and wild, exciting wrestling make this a romp, which continues in Ragtag Team (2021).
Training Day. By Raúl the Third. Illus. by Raúl the Third and Elaine Bay. 2021. HarperCollins/Versify, $9.99 (9780358380382). K–Gr. 2.
In this bilingual reader, El Toro, a burly luchador, is reluctant to leave bed for his match against undefeated champion The Wall. An energizing training regimen from his trainer inspires El Toro to work hard and win. Also in the El Toro and Friends series: Tag Team (2021).
Register or subscribe today