Sameer and Vijay are not great basketball players, but they loyally find ways to contribute to their junior high school team.
Sameer is too short, slow, and unskilled to make the team, and it hurts “that the thing he loved to do was not the thing he happened to be very good at.” But he remembers his grandmother telling him, “Sameer, in basketball, as in life, there are many ways to contribute. And you have a lot to contribute. Find your place.” So, microphone in hand, he calls the action for home basketball games, enthusiastically announcing the play-by-play and whipping the crowds into a frenzy for the Gladiators of Gladys Spinoza. But this seems a contrivance to give Sameer a way to contribute, since basketball games are not normally announced in this manner, at least not at this level. Meanwhile his friend Vijay likewise contributes as the mascot. When the coach goes off the deep end at an away game, a Shakespeare-quoting, Henry V–loving drama teacher who doesn’t really know the game steps in to lead. He inspires the team, with help from Vijay and Sameer, and takes them to the playoffs, thanks to a lottery (another contrivance). The fact that the two kids on the sideline are both “little brown guys” is mitigated by the exuberantly multiracial and multiethnic makeup of their school.
Contrivances aside, a good-hearted story of gladiators, kings, and kids with dreams. (Fiction. 9-12)