DREAM BIG!

HOW TO REACH FOR YOUR STARS

The 22-year-old founder of the nonprofit The Mars Generation “Astronaut Abby” offers advice on setting and accomplishing life goals.

Harrison wanted to be an astronaut since early childhood, so when she was 11, her mother challenged her to make a plan and consider all the steps she would need to take to achieve her dream. In this conversational guide, Harrison walks her readers through the same process, providing personal reminisces alongside workbook-style exercises. She writes, “Big dreams don’t require big actions; they just require a consistent pattern of small actions.” Like many self-help books, this one elides the unavoidable impact that systemic oppression can have on marginalized people’s goals, but it still contains a lot of useful suggestions. With friendly encouragement, it introduces concepts like the elevator pitch, SMART goals from the world of business management (Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant, Timely), “accountabilibuddies,” and burnout. Minibiographies of notable achievers outside the space world, like Elaine Welteroth and Nabela Noor, add interest and inspiration. Recent college graduate Harrison, who is on her way to fulfilling her dream of becoming an astronaut, has pretty good stories herself, though, like the time she hung up on Buzz Aldrin or when she piloted a plane out of an uncontrollable spin. The content and approach are general enough to appeal both to STEM-oriented fans of the author as well as those whose interests lie in other areas. Harrison reads as White; many of the black-and-white illustrations include diverse representation.

Fun and helpful. (Nonfiction. 10-16)

Pub Date: Jan. 19, 2021

ISBN: 978-0-593-11675-3

Page Count: 304

Publisher: Philomel

Review Posted Online: Oct. 27, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 15, 2020

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A rich and deeply felt slice of life.

JUST PRETEND

Crafting fantasy worlds offers a budding middle school author relief and distraction from the real one in this graphic memoir debut.

Everyone in Tori’s life shows realistic mixes of vulnerability and self-knowledge while, equally realistically, seeming to be making it up as they go. At least, as she shuttles between angrily divorced parents—dad becoming steadily harder to reach, overstressed mom spectacularly incapable of reading her offspring—or drifts through one wearingly dull class after another, she has both vivacious bestie Taylor Lee and, promisingly, new classmate Nick as well as the (all-girl) heroic fantasy, complete with portals, crystal amulets, and evil enchantments, taking shape in her mind and on paper. The flow of school projects, sleepovers, heart-to-heart conversations with Taylor, and like incidents (including a scene involving Tori’s older brother, who is having a rough adolescence, that could be seen as domestic violence) turns to a tide of change as eighth grade winds down and brings unwelcome revelations about friends. At least the story remains as solace and, at the close, a sense that there are still chapters to come in both worlds. Working in a simple, expressive cartoon style reminiscent of Raina Telgemeier’s, Sharp captures facial and body language with easy naturalism. Most people in the spacious, tidily arranged panels are White; Taylor appears East Asian, and there is diversity in background characters.

A rich and deeply felt slice of life. (afterword, design notes) (Graphic memoir. 10-13)

Pub Date: May 18, 2021

ISBN: 978-0-316-53889-3

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Little, Brown

Review Posted Online: March 31, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 2021

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A powerful resource for young people itching for change.

WOLFPACK (YOUNG READERS EDITION)

HOW YOUNG PEOPLE WILL FIND THEIR VOICE, UNITE THEIR PACK, AND CHANGE THE WORLD

Soccer star and activist Wambach adapts Wolfpack (2019), her New York Times bestseller for adults, for a middle-grade audience.

YOU. ARE. THE. WOLVES.” That rallying cry, each word proudly occupying its own line on the page, neatly sums up the fierce determination Wambach demands of her audience. The original Wolfpack was an adaptation of the viral 2018 commencement speech she gave at Barnard College; in her own words, it was “a directive to unleash [the graduates’] individuality, unite the collective, and change the world.” This new adaption takes the themes of the original and recasts them in kid-friendly terms, the call to action feeling more relevant now than ever. With the exception of the introduction and closing remarks, each short chapter presents a new leadership philosophy, dishing out such timeless advice as “Be grateful and ambitious”; “Make failure your fuel”; “Champion each other”; and “Find your pack.” Chapters utilize “rules” as a framing device. The first page of each presents a generalized “old” and “new” rule pertaining to that chapter’s guiding principle, and each chapter closes with a “Call to the Wolfpack” that sums up those principles in more specific terms. Some parts of the book come across as somewhat quixotic or buzzword-heavy, but Wambach deftly mitigates much of the preachiness with a bluff, congenial tone and refreshing dashes of self-deprecating humor. Personal anecdotes help ground each of the philosophies in applicability, and myriad heavy issues are respectfully, yet simply broached.

A powerful resource for young people itching for change. (Nonfiction. 10-14)

Pub Date: Oct. 6, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-250-76686-1

Page Count: 112

Publisher: Roaring Brook Press

Review Posted Online: Sept. 1, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 15, 2020

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