A delightful follow-up from a writer who understands children, family, and culture.

ON POINT

From the Zayd Saleem, Chasing the Dream series , Vol. 2

In this second installment of the Zayd Saleem, Chasing the Dream series, Zayd navigates challenging times on his new basketball team and changing relationships with both his best friend and his favorite uncle.

Pakistani-American fourth-grader Zayd has made it to the elite gold team, but now the team is losing games. His best friend, Adam, whom Zayd loves playing with, is losing interest in basketball and is acting different. Zayd’s uncle Mamoo is also less fun to be around; he’s at the center of plans for his upcoming wedding, which is all anyone at home talks about. The family holds planning meetings and dinners, and they travel out of state to shop for the wedding in Edison, a “Little Pakistan”–like town in New Jersey. When Adam misses basketball practice, the coach puts Zayd on point guard. Zayd is not sure he can do it, but the harder he works, the more his confidence and abilities grow. He even shares some lessons from basketball with his uncle and soon-to-be aunt about taking charge while being a team player. Khan stays firmly in Zayd’s perspective while keeping the many elements of his life—family, friends, and passions—in focus too. With just enough action to keep readers turning the pages and a sprinkle of age-appropriate realizations throughout, this small book is a great pick for elementary-age readers. Players on Zayd’s team are diverse; Adam is Jewish.

A delightful follow-up from a writer who understands children, family, and culture. (Fiction. 7-10)

Pub Date: May 29, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-5344-1202-6

Page Count: 144

Publisher: Salaam Reads/Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: March 21, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 2018

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Deliberately inspirational and tinged with nostalgia, this will please fans but may strike others as overly idealistic.

STICKS AND STONES

Veteran picture-book creator Polacco tells another story from her childhood that celebrates the importance of staying true to one’s own interests and values.

After years of spending summers with her father and grandmother, narrator Trisha is excited to be spending the school year in Michigan with them. Unexpectedly abandoned by her summertime friends, Trisha quickly connects with fellow outsiders Thom and Ravanne, who may be familiar to readers from Polacco’s The Junkyard Wonders (2010). Throughout the school year, the three enjoy activities together and do their best to avoid school bully Billy. While a physical confrontation between Thom (aka “Sissy Boy”) and Billy does come, so does an opportunity for Thom to defy convention and share his talent with the community. Loosely sketched watercolor illustrations place the story in the middle of the last century, with somewhat old-fashioned clothing and an apparently all-White community. Trisha and her classmates appear to be what today would be called middle schoolers; a reference to something Trisha and her mom did when she was “only eight” suggests that several years have passed since that time. As usual, the lengthy first-person narrative is cozily conversational but includes some challenging vocabulary (textiles, lackeys, foretold). The author’s note provides a brief update about her friends’ careers and encourages readers to embrace their own differences. (This book was reviewed digitally with 11-by-18-inch double-page spreads viewed at actual size.)

Deliberately inspirational and tinged with nostalgia, this will please fans but may strike others as overly idealistic. (Picture book. 7-10)

Pub Date: Oct. 6, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-5344-2622-1

Page Count: 48

Publisher: Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: Aug. 18, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 2020

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Plenty of baseball action, but the paint-by-numbers plot is just a vehicle for equally standard-issue advice. .

THE CONTRACT

For his eponymous imprint, the New York Yankees star leads off with a self-referential tale of Little League triumphs.

In the first of a projected 10 episodes based on the same number of “Life Lessons” espoused by the lead author’s Turn 2 Foundation, third-grader Derek turns in an essay announcing that his dream is to play shortstop for the New York Yankees (No. 1 on the Turn 2 list: “Set your goals high”). His parents take him seriously enough not only to present him with a “contract” that promises rewards for behaviors like working hard and avoiding alcohol and drugs, but also to put a flea in the ear of his teacher after she gives him a B-minus on the essay for being unrealistic. Derek then goes on to pull up his math grade. He also proceeds to pull off brilliant plays for his new Little League team despite finding himself stuck at second base while the coach’s son makes multiple bad decisions at shortstop and, worse, publicly puts down other team members. Jeter serves as his own best example of the chosen theme’s theoretical validity, but as he never acknowledges that making the majors (in any sport) requires uncommon physical talent as well as ambition and determination, this values-driven pitch is well out of the strike zone.

Plenty of baseball action, but the paint-by-numbers plot is just a vehicle for equally standard-issue advice. . (foundation ad and curriculum guide, not seen) (Fiction. 7-9)

Pub Date: Sept. 23, 2014

ISBN: 978-1-4814-2312-0

Page Count: 160

Publisher: Jeter/Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: July 16, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2014

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