Review Detail

Introduction to Debate via Popular Topics
Overall rating
Writing Style
Illustrations/Photos (if applicable)
Learning Value
This paper-over-board book is described on the publication data page as a "vade mecum", a phrase which I had to look up! Sure enough, it stays true to the Latin in the definition by Merriam-Webster describing it as "a book for ready reference : manual" and "Something regularly carried about by a person". I often talk about some atlases and National Geographic books like Drimmer's More Surprising Stories Behind Everyday Stuff as being good books for long car trips, and The Great G.O.A.T. Debate would suit this purpose beautifully for older middle and high school readers.

Unlike the National Geographic books, this does not have a lot of glossy, colorful pictures, although there are a selected few black and white ones. Instead, this concentrates on factual information about two sides of a wide selection of debates about who or what is the "greatest of all time". From topics I've heard kids discuss passionately, like whether Star Wars of Star Trek is better, and whether Justice League or Avengers rule to more esoteric pairings like Plato vs. Camus and stunt people Dar Robinson vs. Jeannie Epper, there are a wide range of entries. I liked that there was an attempt to include more diverse historical figures, like wrestler Mildred Burke, jockey Angel Cordero, architect Zaha Hadid, and chess player Hou Yifan.
Good Points
Each chapter offers a brief introduction to the topic (bands, inventors, video games), a biography or history of both people, products, or events, and a starting point for a debate. What are the arguments that can be made for each entry of which would be the greatest? There is also a "lightning debate" prompt that is tangential to the topic at hand, or additional information on something that is related to the subject being discussed, such as air guitar at the end of the chapter debating Jimi Hendrix vs. B.B. King as the best electric guitar player.

I started this book thinking that there would just be information about the different entries for G.O.A.T., but this is really a book instructing readers how to evaluate and present information critically, and construct solid debates. This would be a great book for someone who has to present a debate for school or who is just naturally argumentative and wants to home skills! It really is a unique sort of book, but Volponi, whose young adult books like Final Four and Black and White are hugely popular in my middle school library, knows how to intrigue and invest young readers in his topics.

By the way, Frank Lloyd Wright all the way, and definitely Babe Didrikson Zaharias. Don't know who they are? You may need to look them up. I'll be busy polishing my arguments in support of their greatness!
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