Life skills

Alexander, Kwame  The Playbook: 52 Rules to Aim, Shoot, and Score in This Game Called Life
Gr. 4–6
, middle school     172 pp.     Houghton

Photographs by Thai Neave. Alexander turns motivational speaker in this collection organized like a basketball game, with four quarters and rules. Alexander's narrative of his early life in sports weaves its way through a lively display of colorful graphics, black-and-white photographs, short poems, and inspirational quotations by famous people. The uplifting volume reads like a locker-room pep talk by a coach with stories to tell and advice to give.
Subjects: Sports; Sports—Basketball; Poetry; Quotations; African Americans; Autobiographies

Groban, Betsy, Editor  Totally Middle School: Tales of Friends, Family, and Fitting In
Gr. 4–6, middle school
    181 pp.     Delacorte

After a supportive editor's note, this anthology includes pieces in prose, verse, letters, and more, all centered — some directly, some more loosely — on middle school. Gary D. Schmidt's heart-wrenching story takes place during the Vietnam War; David Wiesner contributes a brief graphic-novel memoir. Each entry includes a short biography of the author and a thumbnail photo of him or her in middle school. First-day tips are appended.
Subjects: General Literature; Schools—Middle schools; Short stories

Kerley, Barbara  With a Friend by Your Side
Gr. K–3     48 pp.    National Geographic

Gorgeous, vibrant photographs and simple, affirming text merge in this picture-book tribute to friendship. Back matter includes quotes from famous authors, resources for parents and caregivers on promoting friendship and dealing with bullying, and an author's note encouraging readers that friends come in all shapes and sizes. The photography's diverse subjects and global settings attest that friends span ages, race, and gender, too.
Subjects: Psychology; Friendship; Multicultural books

Odom, Leslie, Jr.  Failing Up: How to Take Risks, Aim Higher, and Never Stop Learning
Middle school, high school     202 pp.     Feiwel

Musical theater superstar Leslie Odom, Jr., who originated the role of Aaron Burr in the acclaimed Broadway production of Hamilton, advises young people as to how they might follow in his footsteps. Platitudes, some spiritual affirmations, and a cheerful tone permeate the narrative. Starstruck readers and theater fans should be inspired by this autobiographical guidebook.
Subjects: Individual Biographies; African Americans; Actors; Plays; Theater; Autobiographies; Singers; Performing arts

Reed, Amy, Editor  Our Stories, Our Voices: 21 YA Authors Get Real About Injustice, Empowerment, and Growing Up Female in America
Middle school, high school
    297 pp.     Simon Pulse

Twenty-one female YA authors offer personal essays about moments and life experiences that shaped their feminist worldview. The timely topics covered include the intersection of race and gender, sexual assault and rape, issues around weight and body image, and the experience of growing up a girl in an immigrant family. Engaging, emotional, and perfectly attuned to today's young women, this feminist collection promises to make an impact. Websites.
Subjects: Social Issues; Women—Authors; Rape; Feminism; Gender roles; Prejudices; Women's rights; Sexual assault; Body image; Social reformers; Immigration; Social acceptance; Women—Feminists

From the May 2019 issue of Nonfiction Notes from the Horn Book.
Horn Book
Horn Book

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