This will appeal to fans of Alexander’s previous middle-grade novels as well as young sports fans.



Building on the great success of his Newbery-winning The Crossover (2014), Alexander provides advice and life lessons to young readers, drawn mostly from the world of sports and organized by a schema of “rules.”

Instead of chapters, the work begins with a preface called “Warm-up: The Rules” and is then divided into the four quarters of a game, each having a theme: “grit,” “motivation,” “focus,” and “teamwork and resilience.” “Passion” is included as a half-time consideration, and there is an “overtime” look at Kareem Abdul-Jabbar. There are brief profiles of athletes Wilma Rudolph, LeBron James, Pelé, and Venus and Serena Williams, along with maxims and personal anecdotes from both male and female sports figures who’ve excelled in different arenas as well as a few nonathletes, including Maya Angelou, Nikki Giovanni, Sonya Sotomayor, and Nelson Mandela. Throughout there is poetry, verses that remind us why Alexander connects with readers. “Rule #45 / A loss is inevitable / like rain in spring. / True champions / learn / to dance / through / the storm.” The advice never feels heavy-handed, and the author's voice shines through. The design is as much a part of the book as its lively text, set in varying font sizes and colors (black, white, or orange), differing layouts, and judicious use of photographs and illustrations.

This will appeal to fans of Alexander’s previous middle-grade novels as well as young sports fans. (Nonfiction. 10-12)

Pub Date: Feb. 14, 2017

ISBN: 978-0-544-57097-9

Page Count: 176

Publisher: HMH Books

Review Posted Online: Dec. 14, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2017

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A broadly diverse roster of role models.



From the Kid Legends series

Introductions to iconic world changers of the present and recent past who stood up for racial justice and human rights.

Most of the 16 main figures are or should be familiar to young readers, but along with the likes of Frederick Douglass, Dolores Huerta, and Rosa Parks, Stevenson lays out early experiences and influences for some less-high-profile names: There’s gay politician Harvey Milk, for instance, transgender activist Janet Mock, and formerly enslaved child advocate Iqbal Masih, assassinated at the age of 12. In between the main profiles, the author slips briefer ones of associates, such as Mama Sisulu for Nelson Mandela and, for Milk, nods to the Mattachine Society and the Daughters of Bilitis, both early gay and lesbian organizations. Only a few are or were true “kid activists,” but the reminder that they all started out as children may make them and their causes seem accessible, and the preponderance of smiling faces in Steinfeld’s frequent, neatly drawn cartoon vignettes keeps the hardships and violence that many of them experienced safely distant. From Martin Luther “Little Mike” King’s “When I grow up I’m going to get me some big words” to 10-year-old Anishinaabe activist Autumn Peltier’s standing before the United Nations with the demand to “warrior up” in defense of clean water for all, their stories offer inspiration as well as memorable moments.

A broadly diverse roster of role models. (bibliography, index) (Collective biography. 10-12)

Pub Date: Sept. 24, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-68369-141-9

Page Count: 224

Publisher: Quirk Books

Review Posted Online: July 28, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2019

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Kids with queer interests deserve better.



A brisk stroll down the road of LGBTQ+ history, primarily in the United States and Europe.

Lawson and Knight guide readers through a starry-eyed examination of queer history. The work is divided into 23 four-page chapters. Each begins with a full-page spread of bold artwork and an introductory sentence or two, which are followed by two pages of text discussing the chapter’s theme. Although the book introduces international movements and icons—Frida Kahlo, Margaret Mead’s Coming of Age in Samoa, prime minister of Iceland Jóhanna Siguðardóttir—the history targets the United States, the United Kingdom, and Germany. The text also stops with President Barack Obama’s term, excluding his successor’s strong anti-transgender and anti-queer policies. Within the text, the facts are presented somewhat breezily; Mead’s book is mentioned as being published “in the late 1920s” instead of noting 1928 as the publication year. The vibrant illustrations are presented without captions or even context, doing little to enhance or support the text. Readers already familiar with queer history may recognize Marlene Dietrich, Venus Xtravaganza, or Grace Jones, but readers new to the topic may be left frustrated. The backmatter includes a timeline, glossary, and spotty index; Venus Xtravaganza, although pictured and mentioned, is not listed, for instance, while Hector Xtravaganza (also mentioned) is.

Kids with queer interests deserve better. (Nonfiction. 10-12)

Pub Date: May 4, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-62371-952-4

Page Count: 96

Publisher: Crocodile/Interlink

Review Posted Online: March 1, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2020

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