This will appeal to fans of Alexander’s previous middle-grade novels as well as young sports fans.

THE PLAYBOOK

52 RULES TO AIM, SHOOT, AND SCORE IN THIS GAME CALLED LIFE

Building on the great success of his Newbery-winning The Crossover (2014), Alexander provides advice and life lessons to young readers, drawn mostly from the world of sports and organized by a schema of “rules.”

Instead of chapters, the work begins with a preface called “Warm-up: The Rules” and is then divided into the four quarters of a game, each having a theme: “grit,” “motivation,” “focus,” and “teamwork and resilience.” “Passion” is included as a half-time consideration, and there is an “overtime” look at Kareem Abdul-Jabbar. There are brief profiles of athletes Wilma Rudolph, LeBron James, Pelé, and Venus and Serena Williams, along with maxims and personal anecdotes from both male and female sports figures who’ve excelled in different arenas as well as a few nonathletes, including Maya Angelou, Nikki Giovanni, Sonya Sotomayor, and Nelson Mandela. Throughout there is poetry, verses that remind us why Alexander connects with readers. “Rule #45 / A loss is inevitable / like rain in spring. / True champions / learn / to dance / through / the storm.” The advice never feels heavy-handed, and the author's voice shines through. The design is as much a part of the book as its lively text, set in varying font sizes and colors (black, white, or orange), differing layouts, and judicious use of photographs and illustrations.

This will appeal to fans of Alexander’s previous middle-grade novels as well as young sports fans. (Nonfiction. 10-12)

Pub Date: Feb. 14, 2017

ISBN: 978-0-544-57097-9

Page Count: 176

Publisher: HMH Books

Review Posted Online: Dec. 14, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2017

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Most useful for adults who want to encourage youth groups to engage in social action.

BETTER TOGETHER

CREATING COMMUNITY IN AN UNCERTAIN WORLD

From the Orca Footprints series

Families, friends, communities, social groups, international organizations: these are the social structures that can enable people to lead full, rich lives.

Canadian author Tate contends that “people working together are a powerful force for change.” Few would argue with that statement, and she includes many examples from different countries to bolster her thesis, but the book’s purported middle-grade audience may have difficulty following her argument. Sophisticated readers may be able to negotiate the many important topics covered, but personal references and odd facts detract from the narrative thrust. In speaking about friendship, the author writes about her daughter’s childhood friend’s becoming her maid of honor (illustrated with a picture of the two smiling white women at said wedding). This seems appropriate for informal conversation but not this text. On the next page, an engaging picture of brown-skinned twins is captioned with information about “cryptophasia,” the special language developed by some twins—interesting information, but it feels somehow out of left field. Sidebars entitled “I Believe in Love” throughout the book focus on Tate’s life and thoughts about creating a better world through cooperation, openness to new experiences, volunteering, and supporting local and global collaborative efforts. The attractive stock photos celebrating diversity of all kinds invite browsing, but it’s difficult to imagine children reading through the text.

Most useful for adults who want to encourage youth groups to engage in social action. (resources, glossary, index) (Nonfiction. 10-12)

Pub Date: April 3, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-4598-1300-7

Page Count: 48

Publisher: Orca

Review Posted Online: Jan. 13, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 2018

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Readers who want to know when their jet packs and food tablets will be coming will find no answers in this mishmash of...

HELLO FROM 2030

THE SCIENCE OF THE FUTURE AND YOU

A Belgian import attempts prognostication.

Schutten opens and closes with the dead-cinch prediction that readers in 2030 will laugh at his views on where household tech, sustainable land and water use, medicine and robotics are heading in the near future. In between, he delivers debatable prophecies that microwave ovens will be superseded by unspecified new devices, that computer games will replace most toys and like airy claims. These are embedded in equally superficial surveys of the pros and cons of fossil and alternative energy sources, as well as cautionary looks at environmentally damaging agricultural and lifestyle practices that are in at least the early stages of being addressed. Conversely, he is blindly optimistic about the wonders of “superfoods,” carrying surveillance chips in our bodies and supersmart robots managing our lives. Uncaptioned photos and graphics add lots of color but little content. A closing section of provocative questions, plus endnotes citing news stories, blog posts and other sources of more detailed information, may give would-be futurologists some reward for slogging their ways through.

Readers who want to know when their jet packs and food tablets will be coming will find no answers in this mishmash of eco-sermons and vague allusions to cutting-edge technology. (index) (Nonfiction. 10-12)

Pub Date: Oct. 7, 2014

ISBN: 978-1-58270-474-6

Page Count: 224

Publisher: Beyond Words/Aladdin

Review Posted Online: Aug. 27, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 1, 2014

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