A Lot or a Little?
What you will—and won't—find in this book.
Explains some sports terms, including "mulligan" and "small ball." Discusses some forms of poetry, including haiku and iambic pentameter, as well as literary techniques, and references a slew of poets including Emily Dickinson and e.e. cummings. Demonstrates strategies for self-reflection and self-improvement.
The lessons you learn best aren't always the ones you were pursuing. Small, measured steps can be more effective than big, showy moves. Saying what you want isn't showing weakness. When you keep running into roadblocks reaching a goal, it's worth stepping back to reconsider whether you're going after the right goal. It's more important to be true to yourself -- and your friends -- than to be perfect. Everyone gets nervous and frustrated, but you can train yourself to cope and do your best. Being a strong part of a team requires keeping your ego in check.
Positive Role Models
Gabby is goal-oriented and hardworking, actively using her playbook to try to make measurable improvements in her life. Her friends, old and new, are caring and supportive: They embrace her with enthusiasm and are willing to accept a sincere apology and effort to make amends. Gabby's family is close and caring, and she appreciates those strong relationships.
Violence & Scariness
Child gets bloody nose during sports practice. Students exclude classmate.
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Classmates call girl "Gaggy" and say she's a jinx.
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Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that Iva-Marie Palmer's Gabby Garcia's Ultimate Playbook is a strong start to a series about a talented Latina pitcher who loves baseball -- but it's very accessible to readers who don't know the first thing about sports. Gabby explains enough about baseball, field hockey, and what makes her sports heroes so remarkable that readers quickly learn all they need to know to appreciate her passion. The playbook format -- each day, Gabby records a goal, lays out her strategy, and then returns for a "post-day analysis" to figure out what worked and what didn't -- is an inspiring template for young kids to follow. Gabby's a likable narrator, and her heart is in the right place even when she's acting insufferably cocky.
Is It Any Good?
It's rare for a sports-themed book to hold broad appeal, but Iva-Marie Palmer deserves a trophy for serving up an engaging, relatable story about a Latina athlete that even gym-phobic kids can enjoy. Gabby Garcia's Ultimate Playbook celebrates talent of all kinds, and the passion and work that goes in to honing talent into skill. Kids will appreciate Gabby's confidence -- she's good, and she knows it -- but also recognize how easily self-assurance veers into obnoxious self-interest. Marta Kissi's artwork, a mix of illustrations and funny doodles, cheerfully riffs off Gabby's wandering imagination.
Predictably, Gabby gets a richer understanding of what it means to be a teammate, but her journey to that point is funny and charming. Everyone endures a losing streak now and then, and Gabby's playbook is a helpful idea starter for readers who might want to try her approach to self-improvement.
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Our Editors Recommend
Books with Strong Female Characters
Books with Latino Characters
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