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.

Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Retro Review: Girl Overboard by Justina Chen Headley

If you didn't get your fill of Winter Olympics in the last few weeks, here is your chance to get back on the slopes. Whether you are regular, goofy-footed, or *gasp* a two planker (like me BTW) you're going to love GIRL OVERBOARD.

From the LB Teen/Hatchette website:

Everybody thinks Syrah is the golden girl. After all, her father is Ethan Cheng, billionaire, and she has everything any kid could possibly desire, right down to a waterfront mansion, jet plane, and custom-designed snowboards. But most of what glitters in her life is fool's gold. Her half-siblings hate her, her best friend Adrian's girlfriend is ruining their friendship, and her own so-called boyfriend is after her for her father's name. When her broken heart results in a snowboarding accident that exiles her from the mountains--the one place where she feels free and accepted for who she is, not what she has--Syrah must rehab both her busted-up knee, and her broken heart, and learn that she's worth her weight in real gold.

Right now, I'm in the midst of last minute preparations for a class I'm teaching called "Desire in the Middle Grade and Young Adult Novel." Because of that, my lens is very much on how authors allow readers to connect with their main character through a stated or implied desire/goal/want. I'm focussed on how a writer can make showing, not telling, do the heavy lifting in introducing character, setting, conflict, and desire. Chen Headly does this beautifully.

In the first three chapters the author makes it clear that Syrah is a little rich girl. This is a challenge for Syrah but it could easily be a problem for the author. Not a lot of readers will feel that they can connect with Syrah. Did you get a recording studio for your 10th birthday? Probably not.

Here's where the difference between sympathy and empathy comes into play. If a character is sympathetic, it means we like them. If a character is empathetic, it means that we can connect with them. Not all main characters need to be likeable but we need to be able to connect with them in some way. Often, that is through their desires.

Who doesn't want SOME thing?

No one. (she says answering her own question)

And because of that, we empathize. Syrah wants to ride more than anything. An injury has sidelined her and so her yearning for a chance back at the mountain is especially intense.

In addition to her desire, Syrah has a parents who don't get her and a blended family that drives her crazy. Many of us can relate to that too.

The author uses Syrah's father's 70th birthday party and Chinese New Year celebration to showcase the family's wealth and dysfunction: the nanny who helps 15 year-old Syrah dress, her half-sister's yippy purse dog, Syrah's Viewridge Prep perfectly wealthy classmates, and the rubberband of a dress that her mother has lain out for her. All of this is well juxtaposed with Syrah's desire.
Alone in my bedroom, I stare at my pale face. Turning away, I rush over to my bedside table, grab my cell phone and call Age, wherever he is, ready to beg him to come get me. Bring me to the mountain. To hell with my knee. And my parents. 
Her pre-accident snowboarding posters, and ribbons are relegated to her closet. The one place in her "antique-laden" home where she's allowed to keep the things that define her. But her parents have a hold on her and so she uses the skin colored makeup her mother has required so she can be presentable for the party to conceal her true self – something with which all teen readers can empathize.

One tid bit... I do wish that the publisher had been brave enough to use an Asian model on the cover instead of having her facing away from us. 

For more of the snowboarding and GIRL OVERBOARD love take a look at the Author's You Tube Channel here.

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Noelle Pikus-Pace: My Olympic Hero

I don't know if it's because we're both athletic moms in our thirties, both suffer miscarriages, or go to the same church and have a friend in common, but the person I've enjoyed following most this olympics is Utah-native Noelle Pikus-Pace. After placing 4th in the 2010 Olympics and missing a medal by one-tenth of a second, Noelle retired to expand her family.  Unfortunately, she lost her baby. I know too well how difficult that can be both emotionally and physically and how putting my focus on creating something else (for me music, writing, and exercise) can be healing. It was her husband who suggested maybe she should give skeleton one more shot.

Here is the link to the video of her winning run and her rush to get to her family. That joy on her face is so full. We see so much happy in winning, but none outshines hers. Unfortunately NBC wouldn't let me embed this one.
Her interview with Kristi Yamaguchu

If you're interested in Noelle, here are a few more articles on her I found inspiring:
Noelle Pikus-Pace fights through adversity for skeleton silver is Sochi
Noelle Pikus-Pace redeems herself, earns gold in record-setting time in final skeleton competition on home track

Who have you most enjoyed watching this Olympics?

Tuesday, February 11, 2014

Watching the Olympics with Sporty Girl Books

Sochi 2014 has been a great time to watch women in sports. Take a look at our blog post about women to watch at Sochi.

Today we will share some of our favorite Olympic themed books.

Sugar and IceSugar and Ice - Middle Grade Fiction
For Claire Boucher, life is all about skating on the frozen cow pond and in the annual Maple Show right before the big pancake breakfast on her family's farm. But all that changes when Russian skating coach Andrei Grosheva offers Claire a scholarship to train with the elite in Lake Placid. Tossed into a world of mean girls on ice, where competition is everything, Claire realizes that her sweet dream come true has sharper edges than she could have imagined. Can she find the strength to stand up to the people who want to see her fail and the courage to decide which dream she wants to follow?

Gold Medal Winter
Gold Medal Winter - Middle Grade Fiction
Esperanza Flores's place on the United States Olympic figure skating team has come at the expense of an injured skater, so in addition to the pressure of sudden fame and outsized expectations Espi has to deal with the resentment of her teammates--and their efforts to sabotage her routine.
Getting in the Game

Getting in the Game - Middle Grade Fiction
Seventh grader Joanna Giordano wants to play ice hockey, but the only game in town is the boys' middle school team. Everyone tries to talk her out of playing--from the principal and the coach to the class bully, and even her best friend, Ben. With humor and a feisty spirit, Joanna fights for her place both on and off the ice.

Being Sloane Jacobs
Being Sloan Jabobs - YA Fiction
Meet Sloane Emily Jacobs: a seriously stressed-out figure-skater from Washington, D.C., who choked during junior nationals and isn’t sure she’s ready for a comeback. What she does know is that she’d give anything to escape the mass of misery that is her life.

Now meet Sloane Devon Jacobs, a spunky ice hockey player from Philly who’s been suspended from her team for too many aggressive hip checks. Her punishment? Hockey camp, now, when she’s playing the worst she’s ever played. If she messes up? Her life will be over.

When the two Sloanes meet by chance in Montreal and decide to trade places for the summer, each girl thinks she’s the lucky one: no strangers to judge or laugh at Sloane Emily, no scouts expecting Sloane Devon to be a hero. But it didn’t occur to Sloane E. that while avoiding sequins and axels she might meet a hockey hottie—and Sloane D. never expected to run into a familiar (and very good-looking) face from home. It’s not long before the Sloanes discover that convincing people you’re someone else might be more difficult than being yourself.

Hockey Girl 
Hockey Girl - YA Fiction
Tara’s softball team has been challenged by the boys to put together a winning girls’ hockey team. The bet? Whichever team finishes lower in its respective division will have to wear cheerleading outfits (complete with skirts and pompoms) to the other team’s entire next season of home games! Tara and her Roadrunners are determined not to give the YYYs the satisfaction. But winning is going to be an uphill battle for the girls, especially in a hockey-crazed town that cares more about the boys’ Junior A team than anything else. So when the boys teams begin screaming for more ice-time, it’s the girls teams that get relegated to the graveyard times at the local rinks – if they’re lucky. To make matters worse, Tara discovers that the one boy who seems sympathetic to their cause (and super-cute, to boot) is the son of the ice-rink manager and their most belligerent opponent.What the Roadrunners need is some divine intervention which comes in the shape of Sister Helen, a former women’s ice hockey star and their new coach. Inspired to fight for their right to play, the girls launch a campaign to gain fair and equal ice time. Will the town rally behind the girls? And will the Roadrunners pull it together in time to finish ahead of the Hornets and save their dignity?

Want more? Here are book recommendations from other bloggers:

15 Olympic Themed Reads from One Savvy Mom!
Sports and the Olympics from Start with a Book
9 Books to Get in a Winter Olympics Mood from In Bed with Books

Olympic Actives:

Olympic Activities for Kids
Celebrate the Winter Olympics

Sunday, February 2, 2014

Superbowl Sunday with Sporty Girl Books

As you enjoy your Superbowl Sunday, here are some of our favorite sporty girl football books to add to your to-be-read list.

Media of Sweet Feet
Sweet Feet - MG Nonfiction
Ten-year-old Samantha “Sweet Feet” Gordon isn’t just a girl who plays football. She’s also the best player in a league full of boys and has become an online sensation. Known for flying past the defense to reach the end zone 35 times while racking up almost 2,000 yards in one season, Sam’s YouTube highlight reel made her an overnight sensation. Appearing in her own Super Bowl commercial and on ESPN, Good Morning America, and Cartoon Network, Sam’s attitude that girls can do anything, has inspired people across the world, from the U. S. women’s soccer team to NFL greats to other kids just like her. She even got her own Wheaties box—the first one to ever feature a female football player. Sam’s courage on and off the football field has lead her to greatness, but there were times when it wasn’t easy. Readers will hear Sam Gordon’s take on her love of football, her rise to fame, and her hopes for the future in this exciting autobiography full of stories and photos that will inspire all kids to go for their dreams.

Dairy Queen (Dairy Queen, #1)
Dairy Queen - YA Fiction
When you don’t talk, there’s a lot of stuff that ends up not getting said. Harsh words indeed, from Brian Nelson of all people. But, D. J. can’t help admitting, maybe he’s right.

When you don’t talk, there’s a lot of stuff that ends up not getting said. Stuff like why her best friend, Amber, isn’t so friendly anymore. Or why her little brother, Curtis, never opens his mouth. Why her mom has two jobs and a big secret. Why her college-football-star brothers won’t even call home. Why her dad would go ballistic if she tried out for the high school football team herself. And why Brian is so, so out of her league.

When you don’t talk, there’s a lot of stuff that ends up not getting said.
Welcome to the summer that fifteen-year-old D. J. Schwenk of Red Bend, Wisconsin, learns to talk, and ends up having an awful lot of stuff to say.

Catching JordanCatching Jordan - YA Fiction
What girl doesn't want to be surrounded by gorgeous jocks day in and day out? Jordan Woods isn't just surrounded by hot guys, though-she leads them as the captain and quarterback of her high school football team. They all see her as one of the guys and that's just fine. As long as she gets her athletic scholarship to a powerhouse university.

But everything she's ever worked for is threatened when Ty Green moves to her school. Not only is he an amazing QB, but he's also amazingly hot. And for the first time, Jordan's feeling vulnerable. Can she keep her head in the game while her heart's on the line?

Wild Cards (Wild Cards, #1)
Wild Cards - YA Fiction
After getting kicked out of boarding school, bad boy Derek Fitzpatrick has no choice but to live with his ditzy stepmother while his military dad is deployed. Things quickly go from bad to worse when he finds out she plans to move them back to her childhood home in Illinois. Derek’s counting the days before he can be on his own, and the last thing he needs is to get involved with someone else’s family drama.

Ashtyn Parker knows one thing for certain--people you care about leave without a backward glance. A football scholarship would finally give her the chance to leave. So she pours everything into winning a state championship, until her boyfriend and star quarterback betrays them all by joining their rival team. Ashtyn needs a new game plan, but it requires trusting Derek—someone she barely knows, someone born to break the rules. Is she willing to  put her heart on the line to try and win it all?