A funny, satisfying exploration of the thematically rich territory between winning and losing.

CAMP AVERAGE

DOUBLE FOUL

From the Camp Average series , Vol. 2

A year after Camp Average’s surprise baseball-tournament win, Mack—outraged at hypercompetitive camp director Winston’s wily manipulations—leads another rebellion; the battlefield this time is basketball.

To boost competitive sports, the camp’s now coed, drawing talented athletes in search of opportunities unavailable at local girls’ camps. Frustrated that his makeover hasn’t netted significant wins, Winston announces he’s entered the camp in a prestigious basketball tournament, and the boys’ and girls’ teams will play each other to determine which enters the tournament. Mack likes basketball but resists joining the team until his preferred activities are mysteriously banned. Given proof of foul play (and responding to a request), Mack decides to sabotage Winston’s efforts, recruiting helpers to undermine both basketball teams’ series performances. Planting a rumor that a college scout is watching proves wildly successful: Players abandon teamwork to focus on showcasing their individual prowess. Performance suffers, both teams are dispirited, and after Mack’s role is revealed, he’s shunned. It’s bad when Mack’s plans don’t work, Miles tells him, but “somehow even worse” when they do. Watching the events unfurl in this sequel is rewarding and entertaining. While Winston’s villainy can seem cartoonish, the girls—like the boys—are amiably convincing. Names and descriptions for both imply racial and cultural diversity; Mack seems to be default white. Intergender relations among these middle schoolers are strictly platonic. A final twist forecasts further adventures.

A funny, satisfying exploration of the thematically rich territory between winning and losing. (Fiction. 8-13)

Pub Date: April 15, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-77147-309-5

Page Count: 272

Publisher: Owlkids Books

Review Posted Online: Jan. 12, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 2020

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For every dreaming girl (and boy) with a pencil in hand (or keyboard) and a story to share. (Memoir/poetry. 8-12)

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  • Kirkus Reviews'
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  • New York Times Bestseller

  • Newbery Honor Book

  • Coretta Scott King Book Award Winner

  • National Book Award Winner

BROWN GIRL DREAMING

A multiaward–winning author recalls her childhood and the joy of becoming a writer.

Writing in free verse, Woodson starts with her 1963 birth in Ohio during the civil rights movement, when America is “a country caught / / between Black and White.” But while evoking names such as Malcolm, Martin, James, Rosa and Ruby, her story is also one of family: her father’s people in Ohio and her mother’s people in South Carolina. Moving south to live with her maternal grandmother, she is in a world of sweet peas and collards, getting her hair straightened and avoiding segregated stores with her grandmother. As the writer inside slowly grows, she listens to family stories and fills her days and evenings as a Jehovah’s Witness, activities that continue after a move to Brooklyn to reunite with her mother. The gift of a composition notebook, the experience of reading John Steptoe’s Stevie and Langston Hughes’ poetry, and seeing letters turn into words and words into thoughts all reinforce her conviction that “[W]ords are my brilliance.” Woodson cherishes her memories and shares them with a graceful lyricism; her lovingly wrought vignettes of country and city streets will linger long after the page is turned.

For every dreaming girl (and boy) with a pencil in hand (or keyboard) and a story to share. (Memoir/poetry. 8-12)

Pub Date: Aug. 28, 2014

ISBN: 978-0-399-25251-8

Page Count: 336

Publisher: Nancy Paulsen Books

Review Posted Online: June 25, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2014

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Poet Alexander deftly reveals the power of the format to pack an emotional punch.

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THE CROSSOVER

Basketball-playing twins find challenges to their relationship on and off the court as they cope with changes in their lives.

Josh Bell and his twin, Jordan, aka JB, are stars of their school basketball team. They are also successful students, since their educator mother will stand for nothing else. As the two middle schoolers move to a successful season, readers can see their differences despite the sibling connection. After all, Josh has dreadlocks and is quiet on court, and JB is bald and a trash talker. Their love of the sport comes from their father, who had also excelled in the game, though his championship was achieved overseas. Now, however, he does not have a job and seems to have health problems the parents do not fully divulge to the boys. The twins experience their first major rift when JB is attracted to a new girl in their school, and Josh finds himself without his brother. This novel in verse is rich in character and relationships. Most interesting is the family dynamic that informs so much of the narrative, which always reveals, never tells. While Josh relates the story, readers get a full picture of major and minor players. The basketball action provides energy and rhythm for a moving story.

Poet Alexander deftly reveals the power of the format to pack an emotional punch. (Verse fiction. 9-12)

Pub Date: March 18, 2014

ISBN: 978-0-544-10771-7

Page Count: 240

Publisher: HMH Books

Review Posted Online: Dec. 18, 2013

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2014

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