Review! Who Wins? by Clay Swartz

whowinsWho Wins?: 100 Historical Figures Go Head-to-Head and You Decide the Winner!

Written by Clay Swartz

Illustrated by Tom Booth

104 pages – ages 7+

Published by Workman Publishing Company on July 12, 2016

Synopsis from the Publisher- “Let’s say Charles Dickens challenges Mother Teresa to a lightsaber duel—they’re both equally fit, so will his superior artistry overcome her advantage in bravery and leadership? Or who wins karaoke—Nelson Mandela or Jane Austen? They certainly both have a way with words, but Mandela’s over-the-top courage might take the day.


Mixing and matching 100 historical figures in 50 competitive categories, from Ping-Pong to climbing Mount Everest, Who Wins? turns history into a compelling game, which means kids learn while having fun in the process. Each of the famous people is given a short bio and ranked in six categories—bravery, leadership, artistry, wealth, wisdom, and fitness.

And because there are no right answers, the reader decides, and in the very act of deciding and justifying the answer, real learning has taken place.”

What I Thought- This was a really neat nonfiction book! There are three columns of flip-able papers, with the outer two being the historical figures, and the middle one being the event they are competing in. Kids will love flipping through the pages and matching up the real-life figures. Here is a picture of the book I have –


I like that there is a short biographical paragraph for each figure, along with fun facts. Swartz notes that the categories (such as wealth, leadership and intelligence) that each historical figure is ranked on a scale of 1-10 are his take on the people he chose to put in the book. He points out that the reader can feel free to argue about his rankings and they are meant as a reference point. I definitely found some that I would argue on – Abraham Lincoln only getting a 6 for intelligence – Sacagawea only gets an 8 for leadership – seriously? Seeing as how the rankings are meant for fun I won’t file a formal complaint. 😉  I think that I disagree with some of the rankings makes the point of the book – it gets a person thinking about who these people were and brings them to life. Each informational section on the historical figures is meant to give a brief overview of the person. While I found some prime information a bit glossed over in some instances (Josephine Baker being a spy for the French revolution), the majority of the bio’s were enough to give the reader an understanding on who the people are. I found quite a few people I have never heard of and found it enjoyable to learn about them.  Booth’s illustrations gave the book an extra kick. They really make the people come to life, giving a glimpse of the personality of these people.  The “Who Wins” game itself was fun and as I said before it really makes the reader think about who these people are. I love the uniqueness of this book!

I give this book five out of five bookworms! fivebooks

Categories: Age 6-9

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9 replies

  1. Right, if you’re not lodging a formal complaint, I won’t either! 🙂

  2. What fun! The best way to learn is through fun activities!!

  3. This looks so fun! My son would LOVE it! He always does this type of discussion with video gaming characters like Marvel and DC Comic superheroes. In fact, it occupies much of his thoughts! 🙂

    • It’s a really neat way to learn! (Also, did you ever see “The Physics of Superheroes”? I forget who wrote it, but it is a physics professor going over how comic characters interact with physics. It is rather simplified, but it may be just a little over his head (It is really good though!))

  4. Ah, one point to you young history lover. Love your review. Will be hard to beat. (But who’s trying? Me! Mhahahahaha-ha.) 🙂


  1. Who Wins? Created by Clay Swartz and Illustrated by Tom Booth | The Picture Book Review

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