Gabby Garcia's Ultimate Playbook by Iva-Marie Palmer, illustrated by Marta Kissi, 304 pp, RL 4

Gabby Garcia's Ultimate Playbook by Iva-Marie Palmer, awesomely illustrated by Marta Kissi, is exactly the kind of book you want your kids to read. Gabby Garcia is at that point in her life (seventh grade) when kids are figuring out who they are, trying on new personas, and maybe making a few bad choices along the way. Gabby thinks she has herself figured out, and she does - until life throws her a curveball. Her playbook (which, she emphasizes IS NOT a diary) truly is that. It is about, "Goals and Actions and Results," and is filled with baseball card stats about herself, her family and friends, inspirational quotes and mottoes (Gabby's is: "The main thing is to care. Care very hard, even if it is only a game you are playing," - Billie Jean King) and strategies and imaginings. Gabby has the level of self-awareness and positive mindset that I want my own children - and students - to have and recognize in others. 

Gabby is the starting pitcher for the Luther Lions, home team of Luther Junior High in Peach Tree, Georgia. She is pitching the best game of her life in the best season of her life when the discovery of a "severe asbestos situation" puts and end to the game, the season and, for a time, Luther Junior High. The students are split up and sent to different schools with Gabby ending up at Piper Bell Academy, a private school, where there is already a star pitcher on the mound. Coping with change, rethinking herself and recreating herself become Gabby's goal until she can get back on the pitcher's mound with the Lions. Field hockey, fund raisers, and poetry fill Gabby's life as she calculates wins and losses.

I wish I had more interior illustrations to share here, as Kissi's style is full of energy, detail and fun. To make Gabby Garcia's Ultimate Playbook truly look like a playbook, pages have a graph paper background with Gabby's doodles sprinkled throughout. Kissi brings to life a diverse cast of kids and it is SO wonderful to have a Latinx main character in a middle grade novel. I can't wait to see what strategizing Gabby gets up to next!

Out Now!

Source: Review Copy

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