Welcome to SPORTY GIRL BOOKS. At SPORTY GIRL, we want to give all girls the chance to love, watch, play, read, and write about any sport that interests them. We look forward to the day when the words, "You play like a girl," is the biggest compliment anyone can receive.

Wednesday, August 24, 2016

Author Interview with the Great Wendelin Van Draanen

Wendelin Van Draanen came into my radar when I won her book FLIPPED from Liesl Shurtliff's book contract party. (You can check out Liesel's MG fairytale retellings here). But back to FLIPPED, it's a little book with a big, big heart. Years later, as I do little things like admire an old-growth tree or tend my chickens, I think of Bryce being afraid of Juli’s home-grown eggs. For the record, fresh eggs, with their wonderful dark yokes, cannot be beat;)

My fifth-grade daughter handed me THE RUNNING DREAM and informed me I had to read it, and now. It's part of North Carolina's Battle of the Books for the 2016-2017 school year, so tons of middle schoolers will be reading this incredible book, and that makes me all kinds of happy.


image002.jpg
An award-winning and inspiring novel.  When Jessica's dreams are shattered, she puts herself back together—and learns to dream bigger than ever before. 

Jessica thinks her life is over when she loses a leg in a car accident. She's not comforted by the news that she'll be able to walk with the help of a prosthetic leg. Who cares about walking when you live to run?

As she struggles to cope with crutches and a first cyborg-like prosthetic, Jessica feels oddly both in the spotlight and invisible. People who don't know what to say, act like she's not there. Which she could handle better if she weren't now keenly aware that she'd done the same thing herself to a girl with CP named Rosa. A girl who is going to tutor her through all the math she's missed. A girl who sees right into the heart of her.

With the support of family, friends, a coach, and her track teammates, Jessica may actually be able to run again. But that's not enough for her now. She doesn't just want to cross finish lines herself—she wants to take Rosa with her

When I contacted super famous Wendelin, I was amazed at her kindness, quick response, and willingness to be interviewed on Sporty Girl Books.

THE RUNNING DREAM was reviewed here back in March by Anna, (click here for her take). This book is deeper and more satisying than I expected.  It didn't only focus on main character Jessica and her struggles to run again, but it focused on seeing people, not their condition. Before the accident, Jessica lived in her world of athletes and carb loading, practices and meets. But once she's forced to slow down, she sees people she hadn't even noticed before. She makes friends with Rosa, a younger student with cerebral palsy, and their relationship is the sweetest part of the story for me.
This story felt realistic, from not knowing who she was anymore, to battling insurance, to clueless people trying to be helpful, and her struggle to trust anyone's true interest in her. I'd expected Jessica to run again, but I hadn't expected what she'd achieve by the end of the book. Her story of doing something so much harder for someone else and in the process making herself into a better runner fills me with happiness.

Let's welcome our author. Wendelin, thank you for being on Sporty Girl Books! From your website, "My stand-alone novels have each come from an idea that gripped me and wouldn't let go. In some cases, the idea shot straight through my heart. When it happens, it's like I have no choice but to face the characters and write their stories." Can you tell us about that experience with THE RUNNING DREAM? 

I ran the New York City marathon as part of the Exercise the Right to Read literacy/fitness campaign and was really touched by the incredible display of spirit and determination present at the finish line. People in all sorts of physical conditions and people with incredible physical challenges willed themselves to finish that 26.2 miles. Witnessing their willpower and determination was so inspiring. It took everything I had to get over the finish line myself, and that was under regular conditions. How could you go that distance as an amputee, or with muscular dystrophy; or blind

So the seed was planted there, and watered by my experience as a classroom teacher. A big goal among educators is inclusion, but it’s not always easy to get students to go from the theory of inclusion to the actions required to bring outsiders into their circle—or at least make them a real presence in the broader community. So the notion of a “regular girl” who hadn’t given much thought to the special needs kids on campus finding herself as part of the special needs community really resonated with me. She could become a powerful voice for inclusion—and convey what it feels like to sit at that table. 

What grew from that was a desire to model friendship—what would a real friend do to get someone through their dark days? When we’re young we don’t have much experience with this. What do you do when a friend goes through something awful, is depressed, or acts like she wants the world to leave her alone? It’s natural to feel out of your depths or awkward, or just lost. It’s natural to find more comfortable friendships away from all that. So the Fiona character shows us what a good friend does. At some point we will all need a Fiona in our lives—and at some point we’ll likely be called upon to be a Fiona for someone else. It’s helpful to get ideas on how to be that. 

I'm always impressed with marathon runners and the inner strength they have to have. I'm glad that experience planted a seed. What events did you run in high school? Did you have a favorite? Could you talk about your own experience with Rigor Mortis Bend?

I ran the 400, 200, and relays which included those distances. I guess the 400 was “my” race, even though it is a killer, and there is a Rigor Mortis Bend. Jessica runs the 400 because I know it intimately.

I'm not surprised one bit that the 400 was your event. As I watched Olympics track and field, I thought of Rigor Mortis Bend. I appreciated Jessica’s tough math teacher, Mrs. Rucker and wonder if she or Vanessa’s mom was the anonymous contributor. Did you have a teacher like Mrs. Rucker?

I will not give up the identity of the anonymous donor in print! After all, she wanted to be anonymous, right? And although I taught math, I didn’t have the tough exterior Ms. Rucker has. It’s interesting to draw from experiences from both having been a student and having been a teacher. When you’re a student you don’t realize your teachers have real lives and their own drama outside the classroom. They’re mostly just homework-generating machines. When you’re a teacher, you’re reminded daily of your own trials and tribulations growing up and there are things you wish you could convey to your students, but because you’re an adult your words will likely not sink in. And so, despite your best efforts, you watch them learning things the hard way. Flipped was mentioned in the introduction—it was very much a case of wanting to talk to my students. So is The Running Dream and Swear to Howdy. I’m careful not to let what I want to convey override the story, but it’s definitely there, nudging contemplation. 

Back in April you blogged Bust Through and Bloom, about the three year anniversary of the Boston Marathon Bombing where you spotlighted two girls who lost limbs and have overcome, Heather Abbott, and Adriane Haslet-Davis. Heather Abbott wears stilettos and has a foundation to help other amputees have customized prosthesis and Adrianne completed the Boston Marathon this year. In the post you said "Adrianne and Heather show us that there's a choice you make in your heart when faced with the cruel things life may throw at you." Could you talk more on this point that resonates so much with me?

I personally know people who have experienced setbacks much smaller than Heather or Adrianne and have let those setbacks poison their lives. It really is true that it’s not what happens to us in life, it’s how we react to what happens to us. Most of us will face hard days in one form or another. Part of getting through them requires a vigilant fending-off of negative thoughts because, in the long run, it’s the negative thoughts -- resentment, bitterness, hatred and the like — that will destroy you. 

Well said. As someone who's been trying to become published for 6 years, it's a comfort reading that it took you 10 years to publish--and look at you now with 30 solid books and a multitude of awards. Can you tell us what kept you going during that time? It would seem that's a similar spirit and drive that Jessica needed to keep pushing.

To be honest, if I’d known it was going to take me 10 years of getting up at 5 AM to write for an hour before going to work, I might have decided to sleep in. But I didn’t know! And every day I told myself, Today could be the day! until, finally, it was.  I have an incredibly supportive and optimistic husband (Mark Parsons, who is also a writer), and that helped a lot. It was during this Time of Rejection that we developed the philosophy of keeping “Hope in the Mail” – we actively submitted our work and in doing so created a steady stream of rejection letters back to our mailbox. But by having work out there, we could face each day with the notion that Today could be the day! 

I love the concept of Hope in the Mail. I might take on Hope in the Email, myself. What was your favorite book growing up? 

I loved books with humor, adventure, and mystery. And I loved series books! Each new title was like spending time with a good friend. I read a lot of Nancy Drew and Hardy Boys when I was growing up. The Sammy Keyes mysteries are influenced by that, as well as by seeing girls like Sammy as students in my classroom. Sammy is the girl I wish I’d had as a friend growing up. She’s in middle school, an outsider, funny, tough, and smart. She’s the character who got me out of bed at five in the morning to write. The series – 18 books and its overarching storyline – just wrapped up last year. New covers are coming in 2017 – something I’m super excited about. 

Wow, an 18 book series. That is an accomplishment. Do you have a favorite sporty read?

Since I’ve just talked about Sammy, what springs to mind are Sammy Keyes and the Sisters of Mercy – Sammy plays softball and there’s a lot of it in this title. Also Sammy Keyes and the Wild Things – a backpacking /camping adventure that is very active and funny, and also shines a light on the value of protecting Earth’s endangered species.  

Anything else you'd like to share with our Sporty Girl Community?

Keep working toward your dreams! Take it step by step, page by page, day by day…you’ll be amazed how far you go!


Thank you so much for taking the time to be on our blog!

My pleasure! 

I love that you and Robin McKinley both have whippets! 

I didn’t know that! Whippets are awesome J

Wendelin not only writes and runs, but she's also in a Rock-N-Roll band. Here's Wendelin with her band, Risky Whippet, playing at a Sammy Keyes Party.
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Find the incredible Wendelin here: Website * Twitter * Facebook * Instagram *

Author Interview with the Great Wendelin Van Draanen

Wendelin Van Draanen came into my radar with I won her book FLIPPED from Liesl Shurtliff's book contract party. (You can check out Liesel's MG fairytale retellings here). But back to FLIPPED, it's a little book with a big, big heart. Years later, as I do little things like admire an old-growth tree or tend my chickens, I think of Bryce being afraid of Juli’s home-grown eggs. For the record, fresh eggs, with their wonderful dark yokes, cannot be beat;)

My fifth-grade daughter handed me THE RUNNING DREAM and informed me I had to read it, and now. It's part of North Carolina's Battle of the Books for the 2016-2017 school year, so tons of middle schoolers will be reading this incredible book, and that makes me all kinds of happy.


image002.jpg
An award-winning and inspiring novel.  When Jessica's dreams are shattered, she puts herself back together—and learns to dream bigger than ever before. 

Jessica thinks her life is over when she loses a leg in a car accident. She's not comforted by the news that she'll be able to walk with the help of a prosthetic leg. Who cares about walking when you live to run?

As she struggles to cope with crutches and a first cyborg-like prosthetic, Jessica feels oddly both in the spotlight and invisible. People who don't know what to say, act like she's not there. Which she could handle better if she weren't now keenly aware that she'd done the same thing herself to a girl with CP named Rosa. A girl who is going to tutor her through all the math she's missed. A girl who sees right into the heart of her.

With the support of family, friends, a coach, and her track teammates, Jessica may actually be able to run again. But that's not enough for her now. She doesn't just want to cross finish lines herself—she wants to take Rosa with her

When I contacted super famous Wendelin, I was amazed at her kindness, quick response, and willingness to be interviewed on Sporty Girl Books.

THE RUNNING DREAM was reviewed here back in March by Anna, (click here for her take). This book is deeper and more satisying than I expected.  It didn't only focus on main character Jessica and her struggles to run again, but it focused on seeing people, not their condition. Before the accident, Jessica lived in her world of athletes and carb loading, practices and meets. But once she's forced to slow down, she sees people she hadn't even noticed before. She makes friends with Rosa, a younger student with cerebral palsy, and their relationship is the sweetest part of the story for me.
This story felt realistic, from not knowing who she was anymore, to battling insurance, to clueless people trying to be helpful, and her struggle to trust anyone's true interest in her. I'd expected Jessica to run again, but I hadn't expected what she'd achieve by the end of the book. Her story of doing something so much harder for someone else and in the process making herself into a better runner fills me with happiness.

Let's welcome our author. Wendelin, thank you for being on Sporty Girl Books! From your website, "My stand-alone novels have each come from an idea that gripped me and wouldn't let go. In some cases, the idea shot straight through my heart. When it happens, it's like I have no choice but to face the characters and write their stories." Can you tell us about that experience with THE RUNNING DREAM? 

I ran the New York City marathon as part of the Exercise the Right to Read literacy/fitness campaign and was really touched by the incredible display of spirit and determination present at the finish line. People in all sorts of physical conditions and people with incredible physical challenges willed themselves to finish that 26.2 miles. Witnessing their willpower and determination was so inspiring. It took everything I had to get over the finish line myself, and that was under regular conditions. How could you go that distance as an amputee, or with muscular dystrophy; or blind

So the seed was planted there, and watered by my experience as a classroom teacher. A big goal among educators is inclusion, but it’s not always easy to get students to go from the theory of inclusion to the actions required to bring outsiders into their circle—or at least make them a real presence in the broader community. So the notion of a “regular girl” who hadn’t given much thought to the special needs kids on campus finding herself as part of the special needs community really resonated with me. She could become a powerful voice for inclusion—and convey what it feels like to sit at that table. 

What grew from that was a desire to model friendship—what would a real friend do to get someone through their dark days? When we’re young we don’t have much experience with this. What do you do when a friend goes through something awful, is depressed, or acts like she wants the world to leave her alone? It’s natural to feel out of your depths or awkward, or just lost. It’s natural to find more comfortable friendships away from all that. So the Fiona character shows us what a good friend does. At some point we will all need a Fiona in our lives—and at some point we’ll likely be called upon to be a Fiona for someone else. It’s helpful to get ideas on how to be that. 

I'm always impressed with marathon runners and the inner strength they have to have. I'm glad that experience planted a seed. What events did you run in high school? Did you have a favorite? Could you talk about your own experience with Rigor Mortis Bend?

I ran the 400, 200, and relays which included those distances. I guess the 400 was “my” race, even though it is a killer, and there is a Rigor Mortis Bend. Jessica runs the 400 because I know it intimately.

I'm not surprised one bit that the 400 was your event. As I watched Olympics track and field, I thought of Rigor Mortis Bend. I appreciated Jessica’s tough math teacher, Mrs. Rucker and wonder if she or Vanessa’s mom was the anonymous contributor. Did you have a teacher like Mrs. Rucker?

I will not give up the identity of the anonymous donor in print! After all, she wanted to be anonymous, right? And although I taught math, I didn’t have the tough exterior Ms. Rucker has. It’s interesting to draw from experiences from both having been a student and having been a teacher. When you’re a student you don’t realize your teachers have real lives and their own drama outside the classroom. They’re mostly just homework-generating machines. When you’re a teacher, you’re reminded daily of your own trials and tribulations growing up and there are things you wish you could convey to your students, but because you’re an adult your words will likely not sink in. And so, despite your best efforts, you watch them learning things the hard way. Flipped was mentioned in the introduction—it was very much a case of wanting to talk to my students. So is The Running Dream and Swear to Howdy. I’m careful not to let what I want to convey override the story, but it’s definitely there, nudging contemplation. 

Back in April you blogged Bust Through and Bloom, about the three year anniversary of the Boston Marathon Bombing where you spotlighted two girls who lost limbs and have overcome, Heather Abbott, and Adriane Haslet-Davis. Heather Abbott wears stilettos and has a foundation to help other amputees have customized prosthesis and Adrianne completed the Boston Marathon this year. In the post you said "Adrianne and Heather show us that there's a choice you make in your heart when faced with the cruel things life may throw at you." Could you talk more on this point that resonates so much with me?

I personally know people who have experienced setbacks much smaller than Heather or Adrianne and have let those setbacks poison their lives. It really is true that it’s not what happens to us in life, it’s how we react to what happens to us. Most of us will face hard days in one form or another. Part of getting through them requires a vigilant fending-off of negative thoughts because, in the long run, it’s the negative thoughts -- resentment, bitterness, hatred and the like — that will destroy you. 

Well said. As someone who's been trying to become published for 6 years, it's a comfort reading that it took you 10 years to publish--and look at you now with 30 solid books and a multitude of awards. Can you tell us what kept you going during that time? It would seem that's a similar spirit and drive that Jessica needed to keep pushing.

To be honest, if I’d known it was going to take me 10 years of getting up at 5 AM to write for an hour before going to work, I might have decided to sleep in. But I didn’t know! And every day I told myself, Today could be the day! until, finally, it was.  I have an incredibly supportive and optimistic husband (Mark Parsons, who is also a writer), and that helped a lot. It was during this Time of Rejection that we developed the philosophy of keeping “Hope in the Mail” – we actively submitted our work and in doing so created a steady stream of rejection letters back to our mailbox. But by having work out there, we could face each day with the notion that Today could be the day! 

I love the concept of Hope in the Mail. I might take on Hope in the Email, myself. What was your favorite book growing up? 

I loved books with humor, adventure, and mystery. And I loved series books! Each new title was like spending time with a good friend. I read a lot of Nancy Drew and Hardy Boys when I was growing up. The Sammy Keyes mysteries are influenced by that, as well as by seeing girls like Sammy as students in my classroom. Sammy is the girl I wish I’d had as a friend growing up. She’s in middle school, an outsider, funny, tough, and smart. She’s the character who got me out of bed at five in the morning to write. The series – 18 books and its overarching storyline – just wrapped up last year. New covers are coming in 2017 – something I’m super excited about. 

Wow, an 18 book series. That is an accomplishment. Do you have a favorite sporty read?

Since I’ve just talked about Sammy, what springs to mind are Sammy Keyes and the Sisters of Mercy – Sammy plays softball and there’s a lot of it in this title. Also Sammy Keyes and the Wild Things – a backpacking /camping adventure that is very active and funny, and also shines a light on the value of protecting Earth’s endangered species.  

Anything else you'd like to share with our Sporty Girl Community?

Keep working toward your dreams! Take it step by step, page by page, day by day…you’ll be amazed how far you go!


Thank you so much for taking the time to be on our blog!

My pleasure! 

I love that you and Robin McKinley both have whippets! 

I didn’t know that! Whippets are awesome J

Wendelin not only writes and runs, but she's also in a Rock-N-Roll band. Here's Wendelin with her band, Risky Whippet, playing at a Sammy Keyes Party.
SaveSaveSaveSave


Find the incredible Wendelin here: Website * Twitter * Facebook * Instagram *

Tuesday, August 16, 2016

Review: The Jake Maddox Series

As the Olympics come to a close, it's hard to see them end. Fortunately there's a great series for middle graders that includes many Olympic sports. It's called the Jake Maddox series. As a teacher, I love that this series is written at a beginning third grade level, but the content can be enjoyed by an older middle grader. There is also more than one book per sport. As a sporty girl book blogger, I love that they have an equal focus on boys and girls.

The books take on issues of sportsmanship, bullying, hard work, and following dreams.

Here's the series description from the publisher's site:

Jake Maddox Books

There are 85 titles in this set.
These best-selling sports stories by Jake Maddox are a hit with boys and girls alike! Pumped-up, easy-to-read stories with an emphasis on speed, skill, and fair play. The boys and girls in these books face obstacles on the gridiron, the court, the ice, or the half-pipe, and meet mental and social challenges as well. Readers discover that an athlete's inner game, persistence, and courage are just as important as a steady hand or a chance for a goal.
A selection of titles that connect to the Summer Olympics:

Back on the Beam

by Jake Maddox
Illustrated by Tuesday Mourning
Because of an injury, Nadia couldn't practice her balance beam routines all summer. Her ankle is healed now, but she's nervous about being back in competition. It seems like every time she sees her rival, Blaire, her ankle starts to hurt again. Will Nadia find her balance, or will she let Blaire's mean comments keep her from winning?



Gymnastics Jitters

by Jake Maddox
Illustrated by Katie Wood
Dana and the rest of the Raiders gymnastics team must learn how to deal with their biggest rivals, the Superiors. When the Superiors don't play fair, the Raiders learn a valuable lesson in sportsmanship.



Jump Serve

by Jake Maddox
Illustrated by Tuesday Mourning
Ella and Laura can't believe it when two of the meanest girls from a rival volleyball team switch to their team. Before long, it's clear that the new girls don't plan to be good teammates. Is there any hope for a championship, or was the season ruined before it began?



Over the Net

by Jake Maddox
Illustrated by Tuesday Mourning
Allie loves everything about volleyball except hitting. She doesn't think she's good at it, and every time she messes up, her belief in her own abilities dwindles. Finally, she asks for help. Her idol, Nikki, agrees to coach her once a week. If Allie can learn to spike as well as she blocks, she could become one of the team's strongest players.



Soccer Surprise

by Jake Maddox
Illustrated by Katie Wood
Alex and her family just moved, which means she has to start a new school and adjust to a new soccer team. She soon learns that she must play a new position on the team, which makes her frustrated. Alex must learn how to adjust to her new life and have fun again.



Soccer Show-Off

by Jake Maddox
Illustrated by Katie Wood
Gina loves playing soccer, and she can't wait to join the team at her new school. But when Gina tries to be the star of the team, her new teammates don't exactly appreciate it. Gina has to learn that teamwork is more important than winning before she can get back on the field.

Tennis Trouble

by Jake Maddox
Illustrated by Tuesday Mourning

No description available.

Running Rivals

by Jake Maddox
Illustrated by Tuesday Mourning
No description available.






Thursday, August 4, 2016

2016 Rio Summer Olympic Games: What Books do these 12 Olympians Like to Read?


What books did these Olympians pack in their suitcase, plus a few book-related tidbits about those we will be cheering for in the next two weeks!

By Brenda Barrera

Summer reading. What images does this conjure: curling up on a chair overlooking a tranquil lake, checking off the titles on the list your teacher handed out in May, or slipping a paperback best-seller into your carry-on bag as you travel across the country? Your answers are likely shared by some of the women representing Team USA at the 2016 Summer Olympic Games.  I enjoy reading get-to-know-this-athlete-better profiles. I believe it helps to build a fan base when we discover what inspires an athlete or motivates them to muscle through tough competition. It’s also nice to learn about a shared passion like the joy of reading a good book.

Archery Mackenzie Brown
The recent popularity of this sport can be credited to the books and film, The Hunger Games. Here’s what Brown had to say about the popular series: “I was a fan of THE HUNGER GAMES because I read the books. It’s cool for people to see my name as the girl on fire and also get an interest in archery, even if it is from 'The Hunger Games.' Any interest in archery is good for our sport.”

Cycling – Sarah Hammer (track)
Hammer is a two-time Olympic silver medalist and World Champion in track cycling. In 2003, she quit the sport but returned a year later with renewed purpose and what a mark she has made since then. Her bio says she is an avid reader as does her profile in Classroom Champions. 
Favorite things to do off the bike:
1. Take my German Shepherd Dolça for walks
2. Read a good book
3. Go out to nice dinners with my husband
4. Travel
5. Drink coffee

Diving – Kassidy Cook
According to her TeamUSA profile, Cook “enjoys cooking and reading.” She must know the Harry Potter books inside and out because she claims she can recite any of the Harry Potter spells. Hmmm, which ones do you think she would use in Rio . . . rictusempra, orchideous, riddikulus?

Gymnastics Laurie Hernandez
Get ready for a lot of TV coverage on this 16-year-old gymnastics phenom who still manages to make time for fun by learning dances from YouTube and she also likes to read. THE MAZE RUNNER is her favorite book and she also likes to write poetry.

Judo – Kayla Harrison
Kayla was the first U.S. athlete to win a gold medal in judo at the London 2012 Olympic Games. Can she repeat? In addition to her inspirational accomplishments on the judo mat, Harrison is a survivor of sexual abuse and is writing not one, but two books: a memoir and one with her foundation, Fearless Foundation.

Rowing Megan Kalmoe (Quadruple Sculls)
Kalmoe is a now a three-time Olympic rower and 2012 bronze medalist who also enjoys reading and writing. Her blog is well-known in the rowing community, and she recently wrote an entry, “Stop Trying to Ruin theOlympics For Us” which has generated quite a few comments. Kalmoe states she wants to travel and begin to write a book when her profession as a rower ends.

Shooting – Kim Rhode (skeet)
Rhode was ten years old when she discovered the sport of skeet shooting and was a world champion at age 13! According to a profile in US Magazine she collects first edition children’s books, and her bookshelves must be pretty darn full – she has about 2,000 books!

Soccer – Carli Lloyd
According to her website, Lloyd’s best soccer moment was winning the 2015 World Cup and scoring a hat trick in the final. I have a feeling her best writing moment will be coming up shortly. Lloyd will be joining other soccer superstars like Michelle Akers, Mia Hamm, Alex Morgan, Hope Solo, and Abby Wambach who have written memoirs. Her forthcoming memoir, WHEN NOBODY WAS WATCHING, is due this fall.

Swimming Missy Franklin
Curious about Franklin’s reading habits? Well here’s the scoop on her Rio reading list per Travel and Leisure Magazine. “I’m a huge reader,” says Franklin. “A few days before a trip, I have a great time researching what everyone is reading and picking the books for my flight.” Her books include: AFTER YOU by JoJo Moyes, COURT OF MIST AND FURY by Sarah J. Maas, ALL THE LIGHT WE CANNOT SEE by Anthony Doerr, and KISSES FROM KATIE by Katie Davis.

Tennis Serena Williams
Williams is now a four-time Olympian who has won gold in both singles (2012) and doubles (2000, 2008, 2012). Reading is listed among her hobbies and her favorite author is Maya Angelou.  I found this fun YouTube video, “73 Questions with Serena Williams | Vogue” and one question was: “What’s one book that made a lasting impression on you?” Her answer: LEAN IN by Sheryl Sandberg.  Also, according to USA Today, she arrived in Rio and had a Harry Potter book with her for the flight.

Track & Field – Brianna Rollins (100m hurdles)
In her family, Rollins is the oldest with six younger brothers, so it’s hard to imagine how anyone would have been able to find a quiet corner to read while growing up. Rollins, a three-time NCAA Champion, will be making her Olympic debut in Rio says she stays focused by reading self-help books they keep her positive.

Track & Field Abbey D’Agostino (5000m)
D’Agostino, who ran for Dartmouth, is one of the most decorated athletes in Ivy League history. FloTrack did a great interview question asking her who she would have dinner with (living or dead) and why? One of her picks included: “Don Miller (the author of my favorite book, BLUE LIKE JAZZ) because his story touched the core of me during a challenging time in my life. It’s raw, honest, and incredibly profound…”

Of course, the book you know they would all like to read is an Olympic record book with their name and outstanding 2016 Olympic performance recorded. Cheers to all competing this summer in Rio!


Friday, July 29, 2016

Book Review: MY 13th SEASON by Kristin Roberts

Published by Henry Holt in 2005, this book jumped out at me on the MG shelves. A girl determined to beat the odds, to play with the boys, to be the best, battling even her coach. Yes, please!

From Goodreads

Fran Cullers is having a horrible summer. She was a star player on the Little League team in her old town, so the Highwater Hardwares should be thrilled to have her--except that they hate girls. Fran can run rings around these guys, but they won't even give her a chance. So she sets out to teach them a lesson. But Fran finds out that vengeance is a dangerous thing. Her best friend stops talking to her. Her childhood hero gives up on her. And Fran, who has already faced some terrible losses, is about to lose the most important thing in her life forever--baseball. Can she pull her game together before it's too late?


This is a quick read, at 154 pages. I can easily see Fran. She's me at 13, but even tougher. She's also independent, not looking to others to solve her problems,and trying to determine what dreams she can hold onto and what dreams she has to let go. It' a touching, powerful story of loss, recovery, and the choices me make.

At times, I felt the coach was a bit over the top sexist and racist, so he read a little flat to me, but Fran and her father, they were very much 3 dimensional. Fran goes through a hitting slump and I couldn't help but think of my hitting slump at 13. I totally related to her fear and dread of being at the plate and celebrated with her when she conquered it.

This story has a rather satisfying climax and resolution that made my heart happy and had me rooting for not only Fran, but all the Highwater Hardwares players.

I hope you'll give Fran and MY 13th SEASON a read!

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