How To Transform An Everyday, Ordinary Hoop Court Into A Place Of Higher Learning And You At The Podium by Matt de la Peña
Availability: Contained in the anthology Flying Lessons and Other Stories
Story: The summer after eighth grade finished, a youngster hears of Muni Gym, the best in the city, and sets out to play basketball there.
Why I'm Recommending: Telling the story in the second person, Matt de la Pena catapulted me into this tale and I absolutely loved it. It brilliantly describes the pick-up basketball games, while I loved the main character's perseverance - getting up before 5 am, getting a lift with their pop to his job, and then walking 5 miles to the gym, even when he's not getting the chance to play. The way he starts to find company in the gym, but also grow to appreciate his pop more, is also awesome.
Police Magic by Brent Lambert
Availability: In issue 1 of FIYAH Magazine of Black Speculative Fiction; check out their website to buy!
Story: In an apocalyptic age, brought about by new magic, two brothers seek out help. One of them holds the power of the magic inside him but wants to get rid of it, the other is desperate to support him.
Why I'm Recommending: So many reasons!! The world-building here is outstanding, while the plot had me completely hooked. I loved that despite the future here being a bleak one, there is optimism in this story, while the central relationship between brothers Kalup and Adrian was perhaps my favourite thing about it. Also, it builds to a really stunning climax. Definitely one of my absolute favourites so far of a year in which I've read significantly more short stories than usual.
Over to Maz!
A NECKLACE OF RAINDROPS by Joan Aiken & Jan Piénkowski
Availability: Title story in collection A Necklace of Raindrops
Joan Aiken’s A Necklace of Raindrops was so etched onto my heart as a child, that having recently read it to my daughter thirty… something years later, I remembered nearly every word.
Baby Laura is given a silver necklace by her godfather, the North Wind. Every year he adds another raindrop to confer greater powers over the wind and rain.
The image of a raindrop necklace has an enchantment all of its own, captured perfectly by Jan Piénkowski’s iconic illustrations. I love how Laura enjoys, but never abuses her powers – she didn’t always stop the rain, as she ‘loved to see the silver drops come sliding out of the sky’. When disaster strikes, all the creatures she has helped search for her stolen necklace – Laura’s a good’un and that wins the day. It always should.
There is so much imagination packed into this tiny adventure, not least my favourite gift of all time – ‘a book that she could read forever because it had no last page’. How I’d love to read that book.
Although I pity the poor soul who has to write it…
Maz Evans began her writing career in journalism as a TV critic and feature writer and has also been a university lecturer. Most recently she founded Story Stew; a creative writing programme that visits primary schools and literary festivals around the UK. This creative and inventive business is one that Maz is hugely passionate about, and was her personal answer to finding a creative outlet and role that fitted in around her family life.
WHO LET THE GODS OUT? grew from Maz’s experiences with Story Stew, and her daily interactions with young people, their connection to, and creativity and spontaneity with storytelling. Maz has spoken to thousands of children and has never heard the same story twice.
Join the conversation and follow the adventure on Twitter with @maryaliceevans and using the tag #OMGods