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Flying Lessons & Other Stories
Cover of Flying Lessons & Other Stories
Flying Lessons & Other Stories
by Ellen Oh
Whether it is basketball dreams, family fiascos, first crushes, or new neighborhoods, this bold anthology—written by the best children's authors—celebrates the uniqueness and universality in all of us.

In a partnership with We Need Diverse Books, industry giants Kwame Alexander, Soman Chainani, Matt de la Peña, Tim Federle, Grace Lin, Meg Medina, Walter Dean Myers, Tim Tingle, and Jacqueline Woodson join newcomer Kelly J. Baptist in a story collection that is as humorous as it is heartfelt. This impressive group of authors has earned among them every major award in children's publishing and popularity as New York Times bestsellers.

From these distinguished authors come ten distinct and vibrant stories.
"There's plenty of magic in this collection to go around." -Booklist, Starred
"A natural for middle school classrooms and libraries." -Kirkus, Starred
"Inclusive, authentic, and eminently readable."-School Library Journal, Starred
"Thought provoking and wide-ranging...should not be missed." -Publishers Weekly, Starred
"Read more books by these authors." -Bulletin, Starred
Whether it is basketball dreams, family fiascos, first crushes, or new neighborhoods, this bold anthology—written by the best children's authors—celebrates the uniqueness and universality in all of us.

In a partnership with We Need Diverse Books, industry giants Kwame Alexander, Soman Chainani, Matt de la Peña, Tim Federle, Grace Lin, Meg Medina, Walter Dean Myers, Tim Tingle, and Jacqueline Woodson join newcomer Kelly J. Baptist in a story collection that is as humorous as it is heartfelt. This impressive group of authors has earned among them every major award in children's publishing and popularity as New York Times bestsellers.

From these distinguished authors come ten distinct and vibrant stories.
"There's plenty of magic in this collection to go around." -Booklist, Starred
"A natural for middle school classrooms and libraries." -Kirkus, Starred
"Inclusive, authentic, and eminently readable."-School Library Journal, Starred
"Thought provoking and wide-ranging...should not be missed." -Publishers Weekly, Starred
"Read more books by these authors." -Bulletin, Starred
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Excerpts-
  • From the book

    How to Transform an Everyday, Ordinary Hoop Court into a Place of Higher Learning and You at the Podium

    Matt de la Peña

    It's finally summer.

    Go ahead, take a deep breath. You're free.

    All year long your moms has been on you like glue about algebra worksheets and science fair projects and the knee-high stack of books Mrs. Baker assigned for English class. And you did what you had to do. Two As and four Bs.

    Truth is, you're actually pretty smart.

    School comes easy.

    You told Baker in that end-of-the-year five-page paper what was up with Esperanza's dreams and the symbolism of the Mango Street house, and you pulled down a 96 percent—second-highest grade in the class. But even as you typed out that essay, you had an indoor-outdoor in your lap. Between sentences you daydreamed finger rolls over outstretched hands.

    See, here's what all the hard-core homework pushers don't get.

    For people like you, ball is more than just ball.

    It's a way out.

    A path to those tree-lined lives they always show on TV.

    You've crunched the numbers and read the tea leaves. Fact is, you'll never hit the books as hard as Boy Genius Jeremiah Villa. Sylvia Diaz, either. Even your boy Francisco, from down the hall. There are folks in this world who live to mark up a fat World History textbook with an arsenal of colored highlighters.

    You're not one of them.

    You spend too much time on back-alley ball-handling drills to compete.

    Nah, the game of basketball is your best chance.

    The Fate of Your Hoop Development

    For the past three years you've spent every free minute balling at an outdoor court down the street from your building. After school. After games. Weekends. You name it.

    Most nights you're still out there putting up shots, alone, when the sun falls behind the ocean and the automatic park lights come flickering on, spilling that strange yellow half-light across the cracked concrete.

    Ball is like anything else.

    Put in enough hours, your game's gonna blast off.

    Your jumper's now pure out to twenty-five feet, give or take. You've developed a little floater in the lane that leaves slow-footed big men flailing. But it's your handle that sets you apart. Your quicks. The way you can get into the paint at will and finish with either hand.

    This past season you scored more points than any other eighth grader in the county.

    You were second in assists.

    So what.

    It ain't good enough, and you know it.

    Not if you want to be even more dominant next year, in high school.

    That's why your ears perk up when you overhear a couple newcomers talking about Muni Gym in Balboa Park. When you overhear the dude with love handles sitting on the stairs say to his boy, "It's the best run in the entire city, B. I put that on everything."

    "You ranked 'em out?" the other guy asks.

    "Nah, I used to ball there all the time before I tweaked my back. If you can hang with them big boys at Muni . . . shoot, you can hang with just about anybody."

    Shelf the extra jumpers that night.

    Proceed instead to the local library and look up Muni Gym online. Type the address into Google Earth and you'll discover it's right next to the Air and Space Museum your moms took you and your sis to back in the day. And the Air and Space Museum, if your calculations are correct,...

About the Author-
  • Ellen Oh is cofounder and president of We Need Diverse Books (WNDB) and author of the YA fantasy trilogy the Prophecy series and the middle-grade novel The Spirit Hunters, to be published in fall 2017. She was named one of Publishers Weekly's Notable People of 2014. Ellen met Walter Dean Myers and his son Christopher Myers at one of her first book festivals. Already nervous, her mouth dropped open when she saw the pair towering over the crowd. Chris took pity on an awestruck Ellen and introduced himself, and he and Walter couldn't have been nicer, taking her under their wing and treating her like an old friend. Oh resides in Bethesda, Maryland, with her husband and three children. Discover more at ellenoh.com.
Reviews-
  • Publisher's Weekly

    Starred review from November 14, 2016
    This short story collection, edited and introduced by We Need Diverse Books cofounder Oh, features 10 stories “for all of us” from authors who include Kwame Alexander, Soman Chainani, Meg Medina, and Walter Dean Myers. Each story stands on its own, but the collection as a whole highlights the importance of perspective, perseverance, wonder, courage, and creativity during the middle school years. A thoughtful entry from Matt de la Peña, written in second person, centers on a Mexican-American teenager who does well at school but sees basketball as a “path to those tree-lined lives they always show on TV.” In Grace Lin’s delightful “The Difficult Path,” literacy proves an unexpected ticket to a life with pirates for a Chinese girl eager to escape an arranged marriage. And Jacqueline Woodson’s elegiac “Main Street” focuses on the relationship between an 11-year-old white girl and her “tall and brown and beautiful” best friend in a New Hampshire town where “the leaves were the only color.” Thought provoking and wide-ranging, this first anthology from WNDB should not be missed. Ages 8–12. Agent: Barry Goldblatt, Barry Goldblatt Literary.

  • Kirkus

    Starred review from October 1, 2016
    Edited by We Need Diverse Books co-founder Oh, a collection of short stories that embraces a wide cultural spectrum of authorship. Readers feel the angst that comes with getting to know the cool new California girl at a Pennsylvania school in Tim Federles Secret Samantha, narrated by gender-nonconforming Sam. Theyll thrill to Grace Lins The Difficult Path, the tale of a young Chinese servant girl who is captured by pirates, who save her from an arranged marriage to a horrible young boy from a wealthy family. Kwame Alexander contributes a short story in verse about a young Star Wars geek who is head over heels with the school's prettiest girl. Perhaps most poignantly, there is Sometimes a Dream Needs a Push, about a boy whose basketball-star father gives his wheelchair basketball team some crucial pointers, from Walter Dean Myers. These stories and othersfrom Matt de la Pea, Meg Medina, Kelly J. Baptist, Tim Tingle, Jacqueline Woodson, and Soman Chainaniably contain universal themes: friendship, sibling rivalry, parental embarrassment, first crushes, and the trials and challenges that school can bring. Thumbnail biographies of the contributors and an introduction to the genesis and work of We Need Diverse Books round out the volume. A natural for middle school classrooms and libraries, this strong collection should find eager readers. (Anthology. 8-12)

    COPYRIGHT(2016) Kirkus Reviews, ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.

  • School Library Journal

    Starred review from November 1, 2016

    Gr 4-6-This anthology, published in partnership with We Need Diverse Books, presents 10 short stories from a stellar list of authors: Kwame Alexander, Matt de la Pena, Jacqueline Woodson, Soman Chainani, Grace Lin, Walter Dean Myers, Tim Federle, Meg Medina, Tim Tingle, and Kelly Baptist. De la Pena's linguistically grooving basketball story will have readers swaying in their seats. Verbal roadblocks are hurled at the protagonist from the street-smart players inside the gym: he's too young, too skinny, too Mexican. His resolve yields multiple life lessons on and off the court. Woodson's haunting "Main Street" follows Celeste, the only girl of color in an all-white New Hampshire town, and her friendship with lifetime resident Treetop. Both are suffering from different losses: Treetop's mother has recently passed away, and Celeste isn't accepted in her new home. Their warm connection soothes their mutual pain and promises to last even after Celeste and her mother decide to return to familiar and welcoming New York. Each tale offers realistic and fully developed characters with whom a wide range of readers will identify. VERDICT Inclusive, authentic, and eminently readable, this collection of short stories is an excellent addition for libraries and classrooms.-Diane McCabe, John Muir Elementary, Santa Monica, CA

    Copyright 2016 School Library Journal, LLC Used with permission.

  • Booklist, starred review "...there's plenty of magic in this collection to go around."
  • Kirkus, starred review "A natural for middle school classrooms and libraries, this strong collection should find eager readers."
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    Random House Children's Books
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Ellen Oh
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