NBA star Stoudemire draws on his own childhood and nickname, STAT (Standing Tall and Talented), to pen the first in a series of chapter books that celebrate sports, smarts and friendship.
Amar’e is a bright 11-year-old who loves many different things. He is as at home on his skateboard, working on his jumps, as he is on a basketball court, working on his moves. He is a good student, and he enjoys warm relationships with his older brother and father. Friends want him to participate in their upcoming tournament, but Amar’e is reluctant to commit to one sport, something his father understands. “Son, we both know you’ve got a gift for basketball,” he says. “But your greatest gift is just being you.” When a group of older boys make it impossible to play basketball on a neighborhood court, Amar’e devises a strategy to return the court to open play for the entire community. Working to resolve the conflict helps him understand the lessons of Dr. King. This first in a series of chapter books geared to young males hits all the major points in encouraging boys to read: sports, peer relationships, the value of hard work and family support. The basketball scenes are, not surprisingly, the strength of this serviceable narrative, and Amar’e is a likable protagonist.
Though heavy on message, this will help address the dearth of chapter books featuring children of color positively engaged in the normal adventures of life. (Fiction. 8-12)