Alexander, Kwame. Playbook, The: 52 Rules to Aim, Shoot, and Score in This Game Called Life. Thai Neave, Illus. Non-fiction. Houghton, 02/2017. 176pp. $14.99. 978-0-544-57097-9. OUTSTANDING. GRADES 4-8.
With a dynamic combination of original text, quotes, photographs, and graphics, Kwame Alexander (The Crossover, 2014) inspires young readers to reach for their goals and give it all they’ve got. Alexander shows how sports are “a great metaphor,” providing guiding rules for life. The quarters of a basketball game frame this collection of poems, quotes, and vignettes. Alexander’s voice rings clear and true. “How do we make our dreams come true? I believe that we have to be passionate, determined, focused, and work hard, in order to succeed. But, we also have to master the rules of the game.” Short free-verse poems, put forward as rules of life, alternate with inspiring quotes from sports stars and public figures. “Find grit/ when you want to quit/ Coolness/ when you get/ heated/And determination/ when you feel/ defeated,” reads rule #13, framed in bold orange next to a b&w photograph of a player dunking a basketball. Neave’s dynamic photographs and the book’s striking graphic design elements bring powerful energy to this collection. It is particularly noteworthy that images and quotes feature a diverse range of players, men and women, young kids, teens and adults. Librarians will need to decide whether this fits better with their collections of motivational quotations, literature and poetry, or sports sections. Review based on an ARC.
Mary Ann Scheuer, Berkeley USD