I've been in a very middle grade-esque mood recently, which I think largely has to do with the fact that summer vacation is finally here.
(Because middle grade => summer break fun, I guess?)
So I'll continue catching up on my middle grade titles this week, and we're kicking off Tuesday with Gabby Garcia's Ultimate Playbook. This diary-style look at Gabby Garcia's time at a new school is a zippy read, which is sure to delight young readers!
Published May 9th 2017 by Katherine Tegen Books
Format read: Finished copy via publisher
If life were a baseball game, all-star pitcher Gabby Garcia would be having her Best. Season. EVER! Until she’s suddenly sent to another school and her winning streak is about to disappear—both on and off the field.
But a winner never gives up! Gabby has a PLAN to keep her champion status intact, and every step of is written out—PLAY by PLAY. How could it not work?
(See, Will Mabbit's delightful series!)
So it was with a certain amount of joy that I delved into Gabby Garcia's Ultimate Playbook. Iva-Marie Palmer walks us through Gabby's day-to-day life via a journal format, chartering both her dominance as a superstar jock in her old school, to having to suddenly transition and be an awkward new student at her new school, with challenges that she never anticipating facing.
Palmer's voice for Gabby is irresistible; she's spunky, thoughtful and genuinely acknowledges when she has made a mistake. But Gabby's zest for life is made all the better, by Palmer's decision to construct Gabby's story as a journal, and having Marta Kissi's fabulous illustrations, accent those sections of the story.
It is through those illustrations that we get a more thorough understanding of how Gabby thinks, and just how she interacts with the world around here. But they also offer more of a thorough look at how young teens view the world. We are privy to just how a young teen's mistakes can feel amplified when the world is large, uncertain and filled with new friends, foes and adults. Palmer basically helps readers focus on and/or remember what it's like to be a young, and it's a thorough, immersive experience.
While Gabby's journey is somewhat expected - she suffers a certain number of foes, and also wins the day in a multitude of ways - the journey of getting to that destination, is absolutely worth it. The book unsurprisingly has a happy ending, and readers will come away with grins on their faces.
Highly recommend, full stop.
About the author & illustrator:
Marta Kissi is a London-based illustrator originally from Warsaw. She received her BA in Illustration & Animation from Kingston University and her MA in Communication Art & Design from the Royal College of Art.