Alexander, Kwame. The Playbook: 52 Rules to Aim, Shoot, and Score in This Game Called Life
February 14th 2017 by HMH Books for Young Readers
E ARC from Edelweiss Above the Treeline
This book is a collection of rules, quotes, and short snippets of biographical and autobiographical inspirational stories. It is well illustrated with photographs from Thai Neave as well as drawing and fun text that look like the cover at left. (I can't find the information for the book designer, but that person is the real start of this effort.) The stories are interesting enough, but this is one of those books that I'm not quite sure what to do with. It's not necessarily nonfiction, but it's definitely not fiction. The stories about sports players were over before I wanted them to be, and the rules were rather ramblings. They all made sense, but there were too many of them, and they were too wordy. It seems to me that if you want rules for life, there should only be ten, and they shouldn't be more than a very short sentence each! Since there is definitely a heavy sports theme here, some of them didn't make sense to me because I don't play the sport from which the phrasings came.
All in all, an interesting effort, but more the sort of book that is given as a gift for graduations than an essential library purchase.
Dowell, Frances O'Roake. Sam the Man and the Chicken Plan
August 30th 2016 by Atheneum/Caitlyn Dlouhy Books
Sam wants to earn money like his big sister does (she mows yards), but there's not much a seven year old can do. When he watches his neighbors chickens while she is gone, he takes a liking to them and wants to buy his own. He advertises in a local flyer and ends up with Helga, a chicken that lays blue eggs. His friends are enthralled when he takes one to school, and his teacher shows him how to blow the insides of the egg out so the shell is intact. Sam has a great plan to eat the eggs and sell the shells. He also helps a neighbor by going on walks with her elderly father, who becomes interested in the chickens as well.
Strengths: This was a nice, gentle read about a boy and his family. Nothing earthshaking, but I like Dowell's work and this did not disappoint. Upbeat, interesting, and maybe a tiny bit young for my readers. Drat.
Weaknesses: If this had been a little bit longer and included a few more anecdotes about Sam's life with the chickens, I might have purchased it. It's a smaller format book.
What I really think: A fantastic choice for elementary libraries.