“The Playbook: 52 Rules to Aim, Shoot, and Score in This Game Called Life” Book Review

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I wanted to write a short review of a book I picked up at the library recently. I found it in the children’s section, but I truly believe it is an inspirational read that anyone of any age could appreciate. It is called “The Playbook: 52 Rules to Aim, Shoot, and Score in This Game Called Life” and it is written by Kwame Alexander, who happens to be a Newbery Medal-Winning author.

The book is a fairly quick read, with much of the book being simple “rules” for success and inspirational quotes from various athletes. There are a few written chapters interspersed throughout that tell personal inspirational stories about athletes that obviously inspired the author. The one that I found most interesting was the chapter about Wilma Rudolph, the incredible Olympic track champion. I had no idea that Wilma had suffered chronic illnesses throughout her childhood, including polio! A woman that went on to win three gold medals for running in a single Olympics was once a child that had only one working leg and had to wear a metal leg brace for many years!

Stories like these mean a great deal to me as someone who struggles every day with chronic pain and other health issues. It makes me feel like I can still make a difference and chase my dreams, even if there are significant obstacles in my way. Another story in the book that made an impression on me was the one about Venus and Serena Williams and how their father would actually pay other children to yell out rude and demeaning comments to his daughters while they practiced tennis as kids. He knew they would face racism and other forms of hatred and wanted to toughen them up. I’m not sure this is actually a good parenting tip lol, but I guess it seemed to work in the long run for the girls.

There was one quote in the book (by the famous motivational speaker Willie Jolley) I took a real liking to:

“A setback is a setup for a comeback.”

Imagine having that attitude about every challenge we face!

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Lyrics of My Life, “Keep the Faith” by Michael Jackson

This may be my favorite song of all time, even though it is a little known song by the King of Pop. It is a song that I have always found incredibly inspirational and supportive when I felt like everything was going wrong and the world was conspiring against me. I have listened to this song on repeat during many drives to scary things like job interviews, or when I had to give an author talk in front of an entire elementary school years ago. Without the song, I’m not sure I could have drummed up enough courage and willpower to do things that cause me such enormous anxiety.

I think what I like best about this song is that it has kind of a kick-butt attitude, even though it sounds a lot like an African American gospel song at points. It definitely isn’t a wishy-washy song, with lyrics like:

“Better stand up and act like you want to do right
Don’t play the fool for the rest of your life
Work on it brother and you’ll make it someday
Go for what you want
And don’t forget the faith

Look at yourself
And what you’re doing right now
Stand back a minute
Just to check yourself out
Straighten out your life
And how you’re living each day
Get yourself together
Because you got to keep the faith…”

“I told my brother how to do the thing right
Lift up your head
And show the world you got pride
Go for what you want
Don’t let them get in your way

You can be a winner
If you keep the faith
Straighten out yourself
And get your mind on track
Dust off your butt
And get your self-respect back
You know me long enough
To know that I don’t play
Take it like you want it
But you got to keep the faith…”

…And that is only a small portion of the lyrics (it is a long song lol)

Courage

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It takes courage
to face each new day.
To wake up and say,
“I’m not giving up.
Not today.
Not tomorrow.
Never.
I’m in this thing
for the long haul.”

~ Maranda Russell

“The Fish Who Swam Too Far” picture book review

As a fellow scaredy-cat, I must admit that I really related to Harry, the main character of the new picture book “The Fish Who Swam Too Far”. Written by Danielle Kirrane, this little tale is about a clownfish who is so afraid of the world around him that he refuses to leave his mother’s side. Because of his cowardice, Harry’s siblings tease him mercilessly. Eventually, the teasing becomes more than Harry can bear, causing him to run away in anger. Before he realizes it, he has wandered too far and ends up having to face the very things he had always feared so much.

Before the story comes to its satisfying conclusion, many important themes are brought up, such as bravery, kindness, friendship and family loyalty. Whether your little one is a daredevil or a cautious tike, this story is sure to entertain them and reinforce the importance of self-confidence in every situation, even those that might be scary and new. The illustrations that accompany the text are simple but beautifully done. I especially liked the facial expressions on the characters, it really brought the story to life for me.

If you would like to find out more about this book, please visit the author’s website, http://daniellekirrane.tateauthor.com/. There you will find a link to the book trailer on YouTube, information on where to order the book and other fun stuff like contests and giveaways.