Saturday, October 08, 2022

Cartoon Saturday- Play Like a Girl

Wilson, Misty and Wilson, David. Play Like a Girl
September 27th 2022 by Balzer + Bray
E ARC provided by Edelweiss Plus

Misty is a little worried about going into 7th grade; her best friend Bree is being a little weird, hanging out with Ava, who is more into appearances and boys. Misty enjoys playing football, and when the boys she play with tell her that she can't play with them because they are all trying out for the town's league, she decides to try out as well. Because she and Bree played basketball together, she convinces Bree to go out as well. Conditioning is really tough, and a lot more work than Misty expected, but she works at it and feels she is making good progress. While there are some boys, like Cole, who give her a hard time, most of the players acknowledge that she is as good as they are and leave her alone. Some, like Ben, are supportive and give her some tips, since she is not all that familiar with football. Bree isn't enjoying the experience, and eventually drops out, and Ava continues to be mean about what Misty wears and how she acts. When school starts, Misty gives herself a makeover, and comes to school with an uncharacteristic amount of makeup, dyed blonde hair, and flashier clothes, but this only makes Ava make fun of her more. Luckily, two cheerleaders, Jenna and Amanda, are impressed with how Misty comports herself on the field, and they start hanging out together. There are other things going on in Misty's life-- her mother is tired and cranky because she has infant twins and doesn't get a lot of help from her other three children. Misty's stepfather is really supportive of her football playing, and encourages her to continue. The coaches, too, are really supportive and don't give Misty a hard time. Still, being the only girl on a football team can be hard, especially since Misty doesn't have Bree's support. As the school dance and the end of the football season approach, will Misty be able to find a good balance in her life?
Strengths: Based on the author's own experience and illustrated by her husband, this is a very personal look at how it feels to be in middle school and do something that is a little unusual. There have been a handful of girls playing football all during the twenty years I have been at my school, and it's never been particularly remarkable. I wish I knew what year this took place, but it made me happy that the Wilsons are both from Ohio and went to Kent State! Bree and Ava's treatment of Misty is true to life, but I was a little surprised and pleased with Jenna and Amanda befriending Misty! The scene where Misty goes hear-to-head with a girl on another team, and goes easy on her because she's a girl, was fascinating. I've been waiting for more sports graphic novels, and this one is perfect. David Wilson's illustrations strike just the right note of upper middle grade... not too bright and cartoony, but not too dark and edgy. This is the perfect accompaniment to my favorite sports novel, Heldring's The Football Girl. 
Weaknesses: It's not as easy to bookmark graphic novels when I read them digitally, so I feel like I didn't do justice to the plot arc of this. There's a lot more character development and interaction than exists in many graphic novels, which is great. I may need to read this again when I get a physical copy. 
What I really think: One of the reasons I have wanted more sports graphic novels is that while teachers and librarians get VERY het up about it being okay for kids to want graphic novels, they don't seem to share the same enthusiasm for sports books. I understand that many adults aren't "into" sports, but kids sure are. Maybe this will be a good book for encouraging more adults to read books that include sports. 

1 comment:

  1. Anonymous7:16 AM EDT

    How I bookmark graphic novels:

    I memorise the first frame and the last frame on the double spread that I am reading.

    Or a single page left or right.

    I definitely agree about multigenerational sports reading.

    [this makes me think of GET A GRIP VIVY COHEN by Sarah Kapit].

    Adelaide Dupont