A soccer superstar: that’s what ten-year-old Maya plans to be. So what if she has never dribbled a ball? Who cares if her classmates call soccer a “boy’s sport” and her grandmother pleads with her to just be “a good Indian girl”? Set in a conservative Malaysian town in the 1980s, Ten: A Soccer Story (Clarion, $16.99) details Maya’s determination to form a soccer team, deal with her parents’ divorce, and come to terms with her own sense of being out of place. Certain to charm readers, Shamini Flint’s fast-paced coming-of-age story goes deep and encourages big dreams. Ages 11-13.
You don’t have to be a football fan to thoroughly enjoy Steve Sheinkin’s latest deep dive into history, Undefeated: Jim Thorpe and the Carlisle Indian School Football Team (Roaring Brook, $19.99). The award-winning author addresses three diverse, yet uniquely related, topics: the engrossing biography of Olympian Jim Thorpe; the implementation of the forward pass, which added finesse and strategy to American football; and, most importantly, the dehumanizing assimilation program that was forced upon Native American children by a government determined to wipe out their cultural heritage. Social activists, armchair athletes, and history buffs alike will not want to miss this gold medal of a book. Ages 11-14.
Young people now have a golden opportunity to learn about the past struggles that female athletes endured in an attempt to Level the Playing Field (Owlkids, $16.95). Author Kristina Rutherford describes the progress made in developing athletic opportunities with the enactment of Title IX in 1972, which allowed for a potential expanded fan base and the possibility of making a career in sports financially viable for women. Interviews with and references to famous athletes, including tennis phenomenon Serena Williams, WNBA players Maya Moore and Elena Delle Donne, and Little League star Mo’ne Davis, make this historical account clearly relevant to young athletes, male and female alike. Ages 10-14.