SKATE FOR YOUR LIFE

From the Pocket Change Collective series

Nonbinary professional skateboarder Baker shares their passion for skating, their experience in an industry with little support for those who are not White cisgender men, and how they reclaimed their identity and career on their own terms.

As a child, Baker, who is White, fell in love with skateboarding while watching their foster brothers on a backyard ramp. That thrill grew when they got their first board. Unfortunately, as their career took off with sponsorships and international competitions, Baker learned the difference between skateboarding for pleasure and the business side of the sport, as their corporate sponsors tried to control and define their image. Years after those companies tossed them aside, Baker found their way back, determined to make space for more people to express themselves freely through skating. In this short memoir, Baker tells a story that weaves together their discovery of their gender identity with their experiences in the professional skating world. Their casual language creates a natural flow, like an intimate conversation with a close friend. Relationships with supportive family and friends—particularly their mother, who encouraged them to focus on passion, not winning—play a significant role in Baker’s memories. They provide honest critiques of the exploitation and inequity within the skating industry while emphasizing the joy of community and the work done by skaters from some underrepresented groups. Ultimately, Baker upholds the importance of remaining true to oneself while pursuing a dream.

Hopeful and determined. (Memoir. 13-18)

Pub Date: June 1, 2021

ISBN: 978-0-593-22347-5

Page Count: 64

Publisher: Penguin Workshop

Review Posted Online: March 31, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 2021

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A beautiful meditation on the tender, fraught interior lives of Black boys.

THE BEAUTIFUL STRUGGLE (ADAPTED FOR YOUNG ADULTS)

The acclaimed author of Between the World and Me (2015) reflects on the family and community that shaped him in this adaptation of his 2008 adult memoir of the same name.

Growing up in Baltimore in the ’80s, Coates was a dreamer, all “cupcakes and comic books at the core.” He was also heavily influenced by “the New York noise” of mid-to-late-1980s hip-hop. Not surprisingly then, his prose takes on an infectious hip-hop poetic–meets–medieval folklore aesthetic, as in this description of his neighborhood’s crew: “Walbrook Junction ran everything, until they met North and Pulaski, who, craven and honorless, would punk you right in front of your girl.” But it is Coates’ father—a former Black Panther and Afrocentric publisher—who looms largest in his journey to manhood. In a community where their peers were fatherless, Coates and his six siblings viewed their father as flawed but with the “aura of a prophet.” He understood how Black boys could get caught in the “crosshairs of the world” and was determined to save his. Coates revisits his relationships with his father, his swaggering older brother, and his peers. The result will draw in young adult readers while retaining all of the heart of the original.

A beautiful meditation on the tender, fraught interior lives of Black boys. (maps, family tree) (Memoir. 14-18)

Pub Date: Jan. 12, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-984894-03-8

Page Count: 176

Publisher: Delacorte

Review Posted Online: Oct. 27, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 15, 2020

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DRAGON HOOPS

The trials of a high school basketball team trying to clinch the state title and the graphic novelist chronicling them.

The Dragons, Bishop O’Dowd High School’s basketball team, have a promising lineup of players united by the same goal. Backed by Coach Lou Richie, an alumnus himself, this could be the season the Oakland, California, private Catholic school breaks their record. While Yang (Team Avatar Tales, 2019, etc.), a math teacher and former National Ambassador for Young People's Literature, is not particularly sporty, he is intrigued by the potential of this story and decides to focus his next graphic novel on the team’s ninth bid for the state championship. Yang seamlessly blends a portrait of the Dragons with the international history of basketball while also tying in his own career arc as a graphic novelist as he tries to balance family, teaching, and comics. Some panels directly address the creative process, such as those depicting an interaction between Yang and a Punjabi student regarding the way small visual details cue ethnicity in different ways. This creative combination of memoir and reportage elicits questions of storytelling, memory, and creative liberty as well as addressing issues of equity and race. The full-color illustrations are varied in layout, effectively conveying intense emotion and heart-stopping action on the court. Yang is Chinese American, Richie is black, and there is significant diversity among the team members.

A winner. (notes, bibliography) (Graphic nonfiction. 13-18)

Pub Date: March 17, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-62672-079-4

Page Count: 448

Publisher: First Second

Review Posted Online: Dec. 21, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2020

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