In his third appearance, the 16-year-old Australian and his friend Lou hoodwink their parents into letting just the two of them vacation at Scutchthorpe, which a friend has glowingly described as a beach paradise with discos and an abundance of compliant girls. Lugging their surfboards, the boys embark by bus for what proves to be a tiny community 200 miles from the coast- -where their motel reservations are for the only room in a converted ``chook'' (chicken) house; the one swimming hole has leeches; they must cook their own meals using the sparse provisions from the general store; and, with nothing else to do, they're reduced to reading women's magazines and doing their laundry. Despite Clarke's considerable gift for wryly comical description, the resulting farce isn't as funny Al Capsella and the Watchdogs (1991), nor does it have its predecessors' insightful, bittersweet overtones; here, nothing's more exciting than Lou realizing that his Swedish pen pal may be only seven years old, and the story peters out with the boys seizing the chance to go home early. Fans may enjoy this, but it's a weaker effort all around. (Fiction. 12-16)

Pub Date: May 21, 1993

ISBN: 0-8050-2685-1

Page Count: 140

Publisher: Henry Holt

Review Posted Online: May 19, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 1, 1993



Reading like a long term paper, this dry, abstract recitation of teams and players brings neither the game nor the people who played and are playing it to life. McKissack (with Patricia C. McKissack, Black Diamond, 1994, not reviewed, etc.) opens with a chapter on basketball’s invention and original rules, closes with a look at women’s basketball, and in between chronicles the growth of amateur, college, and pro ball, adding clipped quotes, technical observations about changing styles of play and vague comments about how players black and white respected each other. The information is evidently drawn entirely from previously published books and interviews. A modest selection of black-and-white photographs give faces to some of the many names the author drops, but readers won’t find much more about individual players beyond an occasional biographical or statistical tidbit. McKissack frequently points to parallels in the history of African Americans in basketball and in baseball, but this account comes off as sketchy and unfocused compared to Black Diamond. (glossary, bibliography, index) (Nonfiction. 12-14)

Pub Date: Feb. 1, 1999

ISBN: 0-590-48712-4

Page Count: 148

Publisher: Scholastic

Review Posted Online: May 19, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 1999



An unusual, coach's-eye view of small, shy Evelyn Ashford, the dominant sprinter of the late 70's and early 80's. Despite the sometimes awkward prose (``Eugene was a dangerous place for anyone who was allergic to the numerous pollens in the air''), Connolly has a gift for making even the most routine workouts sound intriguing and gives a clear idea of a coach's multiple roles: not just physical and psychological conditioner but parent, buddy, even business manager. Herself a former Olympian, Connolly describes her innovative training techniques in general terms, plus giving many instances of sexism, racism, and financial irregularity in the world of ``amateur'' track and field; she also takes a passionate stand against drugs and steroids. Ashford comes across as rather passive and biddable off the track but totally different in competition: a day after miscarrying, she won an important race and later (1984) earned a gold medal despite a massively torn muscle. Ashford and Connolly severed formal ties after those games; aside from a very short epilogue, that's where this frank, engaging book ends. (Biography. 13-16)

Pub Date: May 15, 1991

ISBN: 0-06-021282-9

Page Count: 224

Publisher: HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: May 19, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 15, 1991

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