Wednesday, May 17, 2017

Gabby Garcia's Ultimate Playbook

30174679Palmer, Iva-Marie. Gabby Garcia's Ultimate Playbook
May 9th 2017 by Katherine Tegen Books
ARC from Publisher at ALA

Gabby's year is going very well, and she's just about to make the most brilliant baseball play of her life when her world comes crashing down-- the principal tells everyone that the area around the school must be evacuated because of asbestos. Even worse, the students will all have to go to other schools! (Actually somewhat realistic. My daughter spent her 3rd grade year in a high school building for this very reason!) Gabby has to go to the private Piper Bell school. She has a plan, which she details in her "playbook" (which is not a diary!). She wears her baseball jersey so the kids know who she is, but all does not go well. She is called a "Luther polluter" and has a disastrous time at practice. It's late in the season, but the coach gives her a try; things just don't go well. When she tries to bring cookies to school, her lunch explodes all over them, further damaging her social credibility. Eventually, she decides to play hockey for the most disorganized team on the planet. The real advantage of the hockey team seems to be that the players all have a "special talent", and it's decided that Gabby will be the team poet. She is leery of this, but agrees to try. Of course, her need to do a poetry event is in conflict with a hockey one, and she needs to decide how she will handle it.
Strengths: I really liked Gabby. She's sort of a more realistic Big Nate. She means well, she has a plan, but things don't seem to work out for her. She has a supportive family, her best friend is away but occasionally in contact, and she is passionate about sports. She also has some of the realistic flaws that middle school students have-- she has unrealistic expectations, she doesn't think things through quite as much as she should, and she's mortified when things don't go well. She's willing to face consequences, however-- there is a very nice scene where she feeds the neighbor's dog chicken with mole sauce, which sickens the dog, and she admits to doing this, not realizing that the mole sauce would make the dog sick. I always need more books with girls playing sports, and this has a great cover, and the interior illustrations are nice.
Weaknesses: This comes in at 286 pages, which is long for a realistic middle grade book. While I understand the function of the poetry portion of this, cutting it would have made this a much stronger book. I love poetry, but it didn't quite make sense for Gabby's character.
What I really think: I will purchase this, but the length might make it a hard sell. Kids who like sports book usually play sports and usually have less time for reading!
  Ms. Yingling

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