Author Misty Wilson takes readers back to her 7th grade year when she played football. Before we break huddle and get on with my review, here’s the set-up:
Misty never shies away from a challenge, on or off the field. So when the boys tell her she can’t play football, there’s only one thing to do: join their team and show them what she’s got.
But the training is rougher than she thought—and so are the other guys, who aren’t thrilled about having a girl on their team.
Middle school isn’t so easy, either. Misty wants to fit in with the popular kids, but they think a girl playing football is “weird.” Even her best friend doesn’t get it.
Can Misty find a way to score points with her teammates, make new friends, and show everyone—including herself—what it means to play like a girl?
Available review spots leave little room for graphic novels, but when there is a good one like PLAY LIKE A GIRL I had to sneak it in before year’s end.
Illustrated by the author’s husband, David, Misty is a character middle school readers will relate to–not so much for the football aspect but for trying to fit into the ways of 7th grade and making friends. She tries to change her look to satisfy the expectation of other girls while still pursuing her passion for playing what is usually referred to as a boy’s game.
Misty has many hurdles to get past before she truly finds herself. This includes football being harder than expected, a secret crush, and changes in her view of friendship. The colorful pictures bring out the emotion each chapter puts forth. Don’t worry if you have never followed football, there are also helpful illustrations depicting what is going on in a game.
An uplifting story that moves along at a perfect pace. It’s a touchdown on my scoreboard!
FIVE MORE THINGS TO LIKE ABOUT: PLAY LIKE A GIRL by Misty Wilson
- Middle school is a big change for any boy or girl entering one for the first time. It’s a whole different culture that is brought out wonderfully in this debut novel.
- Misty is not always a likeable protagonist but your views will change by the last play.
- A welcome challenge to gender stereotypes.
- A sports graphic novel with a female lead is something I don’t see in MG lit. This will have wide appeal for girls but also boys open to an uplifting story about life in 7th grade.
- Having an argument with a parent is painful and upsetting. You might say things you don’t mean and in Play Like a Girl the scenario is played out to perfection.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR/ILLUSTRATOR
Retired 7th-grade football star Misty Wilson received her M.A.T. from Kent State University and currently teaches fourth grade. Her students, especially those struggling with their identity and where they fit in, inspired Misty to share her own story. You can find her online at www.mistywilsonwrites.com.
David Wilson is both an artist and writer who teaches Graphic Narrative at Kent State University. David studied comic writing at the School of Visual Art, worked as an interior artist at Double Take Comics, was an inker on Planet of the Apes: Visionaries at Boom! comics, and publishes independent comics and graphic narratives such as his ongoing series The Everyday. He has worked on the visual side of the publishing industry since 2011 doing graphic design and illustration for companies such as The Atlantic, The Boston Globe, New York Magazine, Forbes, and more. Learn more at www.dwillustration.com
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