Illustrated by Stephen Kulp

My name is Avery. I started going to school a year too early because I started at a very small school. We lived in Kenya then because my dad had to move there for his job. When we moved to Mali there was no school that was close to our house, so my mother had to be the teacher for me and my little sister. It was very fun because my mother is really nice and didn’t force us to do our homework. At first going back to a regular school took some getting used to, but seeing my friends Aneesa, Lindi and Yajna everyday definitely helped!

I love sports, especially tennis. I wish there was someone I could play tennis with all day long. My little sister sometimes struggles to see the ball and then it hits her in the face, so I’m not allowed to play with her anymore. One day I want to be a professional tennis player – then I can play tennis all the time. My one big dream is to play at Wimbledon. Mom says that I have tennis on the brain, but that’s not true because I also really like playing soccer with the boys at school. At first they wouldn’t let me play with them because they said that girls can’t play soccer, but after I scored my first goal they all wanted me to play on their side. I have a big bruise on my knee from stopping this other boy from scoring a goal. Now they all call it my battle scar, but Mom isn’t too happy about it.

I like wearing pretty dresses, but Mom says I can’t wear my pretty clothes that often because I always make them dirty, especially when I play soccer with the boys. I tried to play netball at the beginning of the year but the other kids don’t know how to play it that well. Father says it is because I am not good at being a team player, but that doesn’t make any sense because you can’t play netball by yourself, only in a team.