Settling on a topic for this week’s blog entry was difficult. Write the response to Aya: Life in Yop City that I got derailed from last week? Compare David Levithan’s Two Boys Kissing and Madeleine George’s The Difference Between You and Me? Put on my old political science hat and talk about intersectionality?
Nope, nope, and nope1. Today I want to talk about YA sports stories! Specifically, I don’t like them.
Or at least I thought I didn’t. I’ve never been able to get into watching sports. I don’t mind playing the occasional game but there are few things more intrinsically uninteresting to me then watching other people toss around a ball. That distaste extends to reading. Describing a novel as a sports story is a pretty good way to get me to dismiss it. Reading Chris Crowe’s “Sports Literature for Young Adults” got me thinking though and I realized I have enjoyed sports stories in the past. Just not as novels.
Gentle readers, today I’d like to introduce you to the wild and wonderful world of sports manga.
I was in junior high when I first encountered Tamora Pierce. I was at my library and saw a new book in the children’s section called Protector of the Small: First Test. It was about a girl and had a nice cover which frankly, was about all it took for me to give a book a chance in those days. A few days later and I had my librarian order me every book by Tamora Pierce she could find in the catalogue. Over a decade later and my approach remains the same; if Tamora Pierce puts out a new book then I’ll be at the library the next day to pick it up.
As prolific as Tamora Pierce is though (28 books not counting anthologies or comics!), I read far too quickly as a teen to sustain myself on Tamora Pierce alone. I decided then to make a pathfinder that I would have liked to have back when I was waiting months on a new Tortall book to come out. This pathfinder aims to recommend young adult books that will appeal to fans of Tamora Pierce. In acknowledgement of how wide an audience that is I tried to include titles that went across the whole range of the YA age spectrum — from titles I’d give to students in middle school to ones I’d probably only suggest to older teens. I picked books that shared what I think are Tamora Pierce’s greatest appeal factors: her expansive worldbuilding, action-packed storylines, and focus on strong female characters.
In writing the annotations for these books I consulted with the readers advisory tools listed in my tips for finding readalikes: Goodreads and Novelist. Summaries were modified from Goodreads and the detailed reasons for recommendation were created using my own knowledge for the titles I have personally read and by assessing the Goodreads and NoveList reviews for those I have not (chiefly The Hero and the Crown by Robin McKinley, The Bone Doll’s Twin by Lynn Flewelling, Throne of Glass by Sarah J. Mass, and Beyond the Myth: The Story of Joan of Arc by Polly Schoyer Brooks).