5/5 ⭐ | Softball Strikeout: The New Girl by Ben Jackson, Sam Lawrence, Tanya Zeinalova (Illustrator)
As an elementary, middle, high school, and even collegiate athlete in various sports at one time or another I can truly speak to the importance of sports for development of character, teamwork, and work ethic, among other things. From the pressure to the comradery, pre-game rituals, and everything in between, it all had such a profound effect on the person I am today.
So, to see Olivia’s story play across the page as she moves to a new town, a new house and uses her love for the sport to develop roots, make new friends, and embrace her community, it was a very real and heartwarming narrative taking shape in “Softball Strikeout: The New Girl.” As I read this to my own daughter, this story about a sport I played myself, with events like tryouts and first days of school, and lunches in the cafeteria with teammates, it was a surreal moment.
Combining my child’s love for reading, and interest in sports, authors Ben Jackson and Sam Lawrence have taken two innate childhood interests and used them to incorporate teachable moments and many of the best attributes of sports and teams. Showing both Liv’s growth process as she embraces her love of softball, and her fears turned into positive moments, the lessons learned from this read are immense.
Whether you love softball, or just love reading, this story is relatable. I even found my own heart racing as I remembered the feeling of tryouts and the start of a new school. Hats and gloves off to illustrator Tanya Zeinalova who brought the characters and scenes to life in each chapter through her art. And a loud, standing ovation to the homerun that is “Softball Strikeout: The New Girl.”
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