Like Derrick, this series is off to a promising high school career.


From the D-Bow's High School Hoops series , Vol. 1

A kid who’s got the moves needs the smarts to go with them.

Derrick may be just 15 and only entering high school, but Division I and even NBA dreams are not unrealistic—but first he has to make the starting squad at Marion East, the mostly black high school in his inner-city Indianapolis neighborhood. This means impressing the coach that his uncle blames for scotching his own NBA dreams years earlier. Readers won’t be as surprised as Derrick is when he is not automatically named to the starting five or when the coach insists that he stop relying on his dunk and practice shooting from a distance—and start learning how to be part of a team. Resentful, Derrick considers transferring to snooty Hamilton Academy, where he’s being energetically recruited and where his underemployed father has been promised a full-time custodian job. Waltman’s series opener (first of a planned four) features plenty of basketball action fueled by hoops slang that will set basketball-mad readers right onto the court. Derrick’s easy, colloquial narration occasionally leaves the court for scenes at home, where his parents struggle to make ends meet, and in school, where he cluelessly woos the beautiful Jasmine. Waltman’s lovingly sketched Indianapolis lends the tale further authenticity. The author avoids slam-dunk answers, leaving readers poised for the next book.

Like Derrick, this series is off to a promising high school career. (Fiction. 12-18)

Pub Date: Oct. 15, 2013

ISBN: 978-1-935955-64-1

Page Count: 216

Publisher: Cinco Puntos Press

Review Posted Online: Sept. 18, 2013

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 1, 2013

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Appealing, accessible stories for teens interested in the arts that will tempt them to become avid readers.


From the Orca Limelights series

Paisley McFarland is a freshman in high school who loves to sing but has horrible stage fright in this entry in a performing-arts themed series for reluctant readers.

When a local farm announces a talent show fundraiser, Paisley signs up to sing, but will she be able to pull it off? Like many young people, Paisley is also fighting her mother’s expectations of what she “should” be doing—in her case, singing classical choir pieces rather than pop music. Her best friend, Jasmeer Sharma-Smith, believes in her and convinces the famous actress and singer Maxine Gaston to coach Paisley and help with her performance anxiety. Her private lessons help give her the confidence to go onstage at the upcoming event, but Paisley also has to deal with bullying from Cadence Wang, another student singer. Much like in real life, the negative behavior is not neatly resolved. Paisley is implied white; diversity is indicated through characters’ names. In Offbeat by Megan Clendenan, Rose Callaghan is a Celtic fiddle player who hopes to win a folk festival competition in order to prove to her lawyer mother how serious she is about music she loves rather than the classical music her mother wants her to play. Things go awry when her special violin, left to her by her deceased father, breaks—will she still be able to perform well? The book follows a white default.

Appealing, accessible stories for teens interested in the arts that will tempt them to become avid readers. (Fiction. 12-18)

Pub Date: Aug. 28, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-4598-1834-7

Page Count: 144

Publisher: Orca

Review Posted Online: June 18, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 2018

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Solidly drawn, both on and off the court.


From the Triple Threat series , Vol. 2

"Triple threat" Alex Myers turns his attention from football to basketball in this middle volume (The Walk On, 2014).

Alex's journey through basketball season is initially episodic. First, Alex and his teammate Jonas Ellington are forced to play junior varsity because gruff Coach Archer doesn't see football commitments as valid reasons for missing basketball practice. When they finally do join the varsity team, the boys—both freshmen—easily outplay their senior teammates, causing resentment. Meanwhile, Alex shyly courts Christine Whitford, a tenacious reporter for the school newspaper, and deals with the fallout from his parents' divorce, including a budding romance between Coach Archer and Alex's mom. When Max Bellotti, a transfer student whose own parents are divorcing, arrives midseason, the team finally has enough skilled players to be competitive. The story coalesces around Max's disclosure—first to Alex, Jonas, and Christine, and later to the general public—that he is gay. In contrast to older teen sports coming-out stories (Bill Konigsberg's 2008 Out of the Pocket, for example), the team stands largely united behind Max. In fact, some of Alex's retorts to nosy outsiders' questions read like a tutorial for supporting someone who is coming out. Woven into these many interpersonal story arcs are suspenseful and well-dramatized sports action scenes.

Solidly drawn, both on and off the court. (Fiction. 12-18)

Pub Date: Sept. 8, 2015

ISBN: 978-0-385-75350-0

Page Count: 304

Publisher: Knopf

Review Posted Online: June 23, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2015

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