I did something completely unexpected this weekend! I went to a Red Sox game. Then, I did something even more unexpected! I posted about it on my Instagram story. It is at this point that I should probably mention two things (1) that sports aren’t really my vibe, and (2) that I never really post on my personal Instagram. Therefore, this truly sent my friends in a flutter, and I kid you not when I say that I had close to fifteen DMs asking if my phone had been hacked. Well, here’s the secret I’ve uncovered friends – behind sports is often phenomenal storytelling. And my personal favorites are those of the underdog. The scrappy group that finds the fortitude and passion to make it to the finals! The kid with the heart and subpar skill that claws her way to victory! Underdogs have so much heart, and, if we’re speaking of the unexpected, their stories tend to lift off the moment that all hope feels lost. What’s not to love?
For this particular list, I kept the underdog theme singularly to sports. I was honored to receive an Advance Reader’s Edition of The Hurricanes of Weakerville, a middle grade story about a boy named Alex who finds the state of his local baseball league land squarely on his shoulders. Will he be able to keep the legacy of the team alive? Keeping in the theme of sports, I’ve selected Ngozi Ukazu’s Check, Please! for YA readers who will delight in the central protagonist Bitty as he brings the zest (literally… he loves to bake) to his college hockey team! Will his approach to the game be accepted by his teammates? I’ve selected She Persisted: American Olympians Who Changed the Game as a picture book because let’s face it, women’s soccer only just won the fight for equal pay. If anyone’s considered an underdog in the sports world, albeit unfairly, it’s a woman. Finally, I’m rounding the corner (baseball reference!) with an book for adults that feels timely considering this week’s Preakness… Seabiscuit by Laura Hillenbrand took the racing world by storm when an unlikely trio turned one horse into a champion.