Cover Image: We Are Big Time

We Are Big Time

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Member Reviews

Great graphic novel! Read it in one sitting! The art and characters are developed nicely, and I was super intrigued to learn in the author's note that this was loosely based on a real life basketball team.

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Fantastic story and representation in this graphic novel. Loved the differing viewpoints, showing that no one group is a monolith. A great addition to any library collection.

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I love everything about this story. I have read Hena Khan's other books, too, but this one might be the best one yet! I really enjoy that it takes place at an Islamic school, which is nice and refreshing to see. Then we see Aliya's struggle to fit in, but basketball is a way where she is able to make friends. And then the part about dealing with the media and how they try to get the girls to take certain stances on things that has nothing to do with basketball. The illustrations are great too. I am pleased to see positive stories about Muslim. Great job on this one!

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I have loved everything from this author so far and this title did not disappoint! There is such a need in this industry for more sports graphic novels that feature females and I love that my students from Afghanistan will be able to see representation while reading this book. Females play sports and yes, they will also play them in hijab!

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This was a really cute story about a hijabi basketball team coming together! I loved all the girls and how they became friends and started working together. I kept expecting there to be more drama from all the news crews, but it never really happened, though there was the hint of more. But it was really awesome and I loved it!

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Give this book to all sports fans and realistic fiction lovers. This is a fast-paced book which captures the difficulty of moving and learning to navigate a new school and culture. Ayana is a middle school student who loves basketball and joins the school basketball team. She learns with her team how to work together as a team. We also learn about the Muslim religion and the difficulties of managing disparaging comments and stereotypes. This graphic novel is based on a real team that was featured in a news report.

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Ever since I read Dragon Hoops I've been interested in sports related graphic novels; novels that tell a story about the team. We Are Big Time fits that mold. It's truly a lovely story about a Muslim high school basketball team going from worst to...not quite first, but a team consisting of mostly first timers does well.

The novel tackled Islamophobia in a different way encouraging readers to look beyond the media's narrative.

Loved this. What a delight.

Thank you for the ARC!

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ARC provided by Follett First Look

Aliyah Javaid is not happy that her family is moving from warm and sunny Florida to Milwaukee for her freshman year. She's glad to be near her grandparents, but sad at leaving the school she has always attended and her best friend. Her new school, Peace Academy, is also a private, Muslim school, so it seems fairly familiar, but her older brother Ameen seems to settle in better. When basketball tryouts are announced, Aliyah is happy, because she was only able to play rec league in Florida. There are just enough girls for a team, so no one is cut. Coach Jess Martinez makes Noura, a senior who has played before, the captain, but chooses Aliyah as cocaptain over more experienced players, so that there will be leadership once the seniors have graduated. This makes sense, but Aliyah feels that Noura holds this against her. The girls work hard to bond as a team, and Coach Jess is good about making them think about their purpose on the court ("More than the score" is their motto), and having them do activities like baking that help them come together and cooperate. She also sets aside time for them to do their prayers if they coincide with practice. There is some local news interest in an all Muslim girls' team, and the girls get a little tired of being asked, by other teams as well, how they can play while wearing hijabs. The team does fairly well, but Aliyah isn't confident on the court, lets her grades slip because she has a lot to do, and stresses about a lot of things. When the national Rafter Report wants to do a piece on the team as they head toward the state tournament, the pressure increases. She finally shares her concerns with Halima, a teammate, and this helps a little. Even the Rafter Report tends to ask questions about issues like immigration, but the team gets together and decides to redirect all of the questions to basketcall. They are given the last seed in the tournament, which means they will have to play the best team in their first game. They don't win, but feel good about their progress on the court, and Aliyah feels good about her new school and new life in Milwaukee.
Strengths: I loved Khan's note at the end that this was based off a real team who had similar experiences with media coverage. Girls have been playing basketball for a long, long time, (think about Jessie Graham Flower's 1911 Grace Harlowe's Sophomore Year at High School, or, The Record of the Girl Chums in Work and Athletics) so it was good to see that there really wasn't any objection to the girls having a team, even though some people had questions about the girls playing in hijabs. I'm always a fan of exploring team dynamics, and Aliyah's personal struggles will resonate with young readers who, like Elena Delle Donne's Elle DeLuca, struggle with time management and self esteem. Zerrougui's illustrations are appealing, and she does an excellent job of differentiating the characters through their eyebrows and facial expressions, which is important because they are often in identical uniforms! Seeing coaches protrayed in a positive light is always a relief, and Coach Jess is a good example of how innovative methods and a desire to help students can overcome a lot of struggles.
Weaknesses: I personally would have preferred this to be in regular novel format, because Aliyah had so many emotional things going on, and it was hard to get a good feel for them. Noura was interesting, and her issues with Aliyah would have been easier to work in as well. Basically, I found this all so interesting that I just wanted to know more!
What I really think: This will be a HUGE hit with students, since there are so few graphic novels about sports. I loved Khan's Zayd Saleem series for younger readers and was so glad to see that Aliyah was in high school. I will probably have to purchase two copies of this to keep up with demand.

Considering that there are two other graphic novels about girls' basketball (Tavares' Hoops, Misako Rock's Bounce Back, and Dawson's Fifth Quarter, I'd love to see more basketball graphic novels with boys as the main character. I can only think of Yang's Dragon Hoops.

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A graphic novel for the AGES!!!

This book reminded me of sooo many things from high school. Moving away from the kids I grew up with, my old neighborhood, all of the clubs I was a part of and everything that made my life, my life. It was beautiful to see Aliya's progress and honesty with making friends at school and finding her place on the team!! It was so great to Aliya and her new teammates work so hard.

I don't want to give too much of this book away, but PLEASE READ IT!!

I plan on purchasing hard copies of this for all of the pre-teens I know.

I volunteered to read a copy of this ARC through NetGalley.

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Thank you NetGalley and Random House Children’s for an advanced digital copy in exchange for my honest review. 4.5 ⭐️ What a fun and inspiring read! This graphic novel follows a high schooler at an all-Muslim school during her basketball season, which was based on a true story. I loved the empowerment and representation in this book without it being preachy or in your face. I know this author has other highly regarded backlist titles so after reading this, I’ll definitely be interested in reading some of them! Well balanced with fun and humor mixed in, too. A fun read I’d recommend to middle grade/upper middle grade readers!

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Aliya is the main character in the graphic novel We Are Big Time. She’s just moved from Florida to Wisconsin, but the basketball team is one constant for her in both locations. At her new school she joins the team which is an all Muslim girl team. Together, they work through learning to play as a team, balancing school and basketball, and what it means to represent something larger than yourself as part of a team. This story is based on a real life story about an all girls Muslim basketball team. It’s an engaging and fun story that can be enjoyed by basketball fans and non fans alike there’s nothing super technical in the game scenes and it is a graphical novel so the visualization is there. Overall a fun read that would be especially great for middle grade and high school kids.

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I really enjoyed this graphic novel all the way through. It has some amazing morals while also learning more about a based on real events book. I truly enjoyed it!

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This book was one of my favorite reads of 2023 (though it doesn’t come out until 2024). It was written after Hena Khan heard about an all-Muslim girls basketball team and interviewed some of the members. This true story inspired her to bring this book to life, and I am so glad! I loved the characters, the story, and the theme–it is such a well done book.

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Inspired by a real-life, all hijab wearing girls basketball team, We Are Big Time isn't just about playing basketball. It is about building friendships and overcoming uncertainty and stereotypes. It is about supporting your team and believing in yourself. And at its core, it is about family and faith.

"More than the score!" is the team's rallying cry, and it 100% represents them and their story.

I love the artistic style of this graphic novel. The images, scenery and character expressions really help contribute to overall impact of the story.

A definite purchase for my school's library.

#WeAreBigTime #NetGalley #MiddleGradeMagic

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Thank you to NetGalley for this free eARC in exchange for my honest review.

I loved the story and representation of this book - Hena Khan has a talent for bringing us into the sports world (even if we couldn't shoot a hoop to save our life!). The story is quite charming and based on a true story. As always, Khan gives us solid muslim gal rep and kudos for the hijabi rep as well, The story doesn't go very deep into major issues, so would be great for a reluctant reader. Does a good job at showing the balance of friendship, basketball, and grades.

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This story follows a teen who moves to Milwaukee and joins the girls basketball team at her Islamic school. Inspired by true events, the story follows the team as they get a new coach, start winning and learn to work together. They start gaining media attention for playing in hijabs and, though some try to spin their story negatively, they take this opportunity to show that Muslim women can do anything. This is a feel-good graphic novel with great art and a lot of heart. I loved that there was not only a focus on Aliya’s growth but that of the entire team. I highly recommend this one!

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This book will be a hit for basketball lovers, those interested in diverse children's fiction, and readers looking for ways to identify and break down stereotypes.

This graphic novel YA read adds a wonderful voice of the Muslim teen. The hijab-wearing teens on the team move from a winless season into the social media spotlight in Milwaukee.

The team must learn to work together and act with self confidence to be successful. The text is humorous, explores culture and perceptions, and addresses teen issues of fitting in.

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This is stellar. Even though the protagonists are in high school, the format and mode of storytelling are perfectly suited to a middle grade audience who definitely will benefit from a solidly told and expressively illustrated graphic centered around girls who play sports and also happen to sport (haha) hijab. I appreciate, too, that there are references to the expectedly pointed questions from reporters that would almost certainly not be directed to white players, but the emphasis of the story is on integrating athletic development and self-image with a sturdy ethnoreligious identity in the background.

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(Full disclosure I received a free e-ARC for review through NetGalley. Content warning for depictions of Islamophobia.)

When Aliya Javaid's parents announce that they're moving the family from Florida to Milwaukee, she and her older brother Ameen are none too happy. (Younger brother Ismail seems like more of the carefree type.) For starters, she's already one month into her freshman year. It'll be nice to live near her grandparents, but she doesn't want to leave her friends behind. And while Peace Academy does have a girls' basketball team, the bad news is that they kind of stink.

But the Javaids aren't the only addition to Peace Academy this year - the girls' basketball team has a new coach, Jessica Martinez, who is determined to execute a Mighty Ducks makeover. For Aliya, this means getting out of her own head, and learning to enjoy her victories at least as much as she dwells on her mistakes. As the team makes a slow but steady comeback, local and then state (and even national?) news outlets begin to pick up the story of the all-Muslim lineup. Armed with leading questions and an apparent agenda, the girls are forced to block more than just field goals. (Yeah, I had to look that term up.)

Based on a true story - that of the Salam School's girls' varsity team in the 2018-19 season - WE ARE BIG TIME is a gentle story about teamwork, friendship, and belonging. As the editorial director Rotem Moscovich notes in the ARC's front matter, Khan introduces elements of Islamophobia and discrimination without allowing them to dominate the girls' story - much as how the girls on the team handle the reports' asinine questions, redirecting their story in a more relevant direction. The depictions of female friendship and camaraderie are refreshing, and I really enjoyed the scenes with the extended (and super-supportive) Javaid family.

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A thrilling sports story that also addresses important social issues. Intricately developed characters, bold art, and a punchy voice make this a book kids will love!

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