SLIDING INTO HOME

Thirteen-year-old Joelle has moved to a small town and is appalled to learn that she will not be allowed to play on the school baseball team. There are strict boundaries between boys’ and girls’ sports and she’s pressured to join the girls’ softball team instead, although she repeatedly explains the fundamental differences between the two games. Eventually she inspires the formation of a girls’ baseball league and enlists players from many surrounding towns. There are many setbacks along the way, but in sports-story tradition, Joelle and her team triumph in the end. Joelle is a well-drawn character, sometimes unsure of her place in the scheme of things, and at other times ready to take on the world. Butler tells the story almost exclusively through conversation or through Joelle’s unvoiced thoughts, which are italicized for recognition. In style and content it’s reminiscent of a typical Disney Channel movie script. Breezy and fast-paced, with a feminist slant. (Fiction. 10-13)

Pub Date: May 1, 2003

ISBN: 1-56145-222-X

Page Count: 224

Publisher: Peachtree

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 15, 2003

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Miah’s melodramatic death overshadows a tale as rich in social and personal insight as any of Woodson’s previous books.

IF YOU COME SOFTLY

In a meditative interracial love story with a wrenching climactic twist, Woodson (The House You Pass on the Way, 1997, etc.) offers an appealing pair of teenagers and plenty of intellectual grist, before ending her story with a senseless act of violence.

Jeremiah and Elisha bond from the moment they collide in the hall of their Manhattan prep school: He’s the only child of celebrity parents; she’s the youngest by ten years in a large family. Not only sharply sensitive to the reactions of those around them, Ellie and Miah also discover depths and complexities in their own intense feelings that connect clearly to their experiences, their social environment, and their own characters. In quiet conversations and encounters, Woodson perceptively explores varieties of love, trust, and friendship, as she develops well-articulated histories for both families. Suddenly Miah, forgetting his father’s warning never to be seen running in a white neighborhood, exuberantly dashes into a park and is shot down by police. The parting thought that, willy-nilly, time moves on will be a colder comfort for stunned readers than it evidently is for Ellie.

Miah’s melodramatic death overshadows a tale as rich in social and personal insight as any of Woodson’s previous books. (Fiction. 11-13)

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 1998

ISBN: 0-399-23112-9

Page Count: 181

Publisher: Putnam

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 1998

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FOOTBALL GENIUS

Sixth-grader Troy White is a one-of-a-kind athlete with the ability to predict which plays any football team will run even before the ball is snapped. However, his mental talents don’t help him crack his youth-league team’s starting lineup (the coach plays his own son at quarterback). Troy dreams of pitching his talent to his beloved Atlanta Falcons, helping them post a winning season. Seemingly an after-school-special waiting to happen, and marked by cinematic writing, this feel-good story has a place in libraries fielding requests for clean and uplifting stories. Touching scenes of underdog Troy wishing he had a father to help him are contrasted with very realistic on-the-field football action, which is not surprising considering that the author is a former NFL player. Many actual players’ names are dropped throughout the story but some, like Randy Moss, may soon switch teams. More than a sports story, romance pops up as Troy nudges star Falcon linebacker Seth Halloway to date Troy’s mother. This light and fast-paced story will appeal to the tween crowd. (Fiction. 10-13)

Pub Date: July 1, 2007

ISBN: 978-0-06-112270-5

Page Count: 256

Publisher: HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 2007

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