A sports tale infused with moments of Christian prayer and frequent lessons in morality that never establishes itself as a...

SNAP DECISION

From the Game Face series , Vol. 1

Two teenage boys struggle to shine on their varsity football team even while their own friendship suffers after one of them is injured.

Archie F. Carr School is unusual in that it serves all students grades one through 12 in Lincoln, Fla. This means that the varsity football team is potentially open to even eighth-graders like Chase. He’s thrilled when he’s asked to start practicing with the varsity team and attend their games as a backup quarterback, but this realization of his dream doesn’t come without a price. His best friend, Tripp, suffers a head injury on the field, and when Chase tells the truth about the severity of the concussion, Tripp ends the friendship. Will their bond be strong enough to weather the rough patches? Whitaker’s (Uncommon Marriage, 2014, with Tony and Lauren Dungy, etc.) foray into middle-grade fiction never manages to break free of its flat tone. The characters, both children and adults, display a lack of energy, even on the football field. Their dialogue is stiff and monotonous. Emotional issues that deserve center stage—such as Chase’s fraught relationship with his dad and his sister’s recurring nightmare—are mostly ignored in favor of play-by-play accounts of football losses and wins.

A sports tale infused with moments of Christian prayer and frequent lessons in morality that never establishes itself as a realistic account of young teens, either on the field or off. (Fiction. 9-12)

Pub Date: July 1, 2014

ISBN: 978-0-310-73700-1

Page Count: 272

Publisher: Zonderkidz

Review Posted Online: June 1, 2014

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet

Falters in its oversimplified portrayal of a complicated region and people.

GROUND ZERO

Parallel storylines take readers through the lives of two young people on Sept. 11 in 2001 and 2019.

In the contemporary timeline, Reshmina is an Afghan girl living in foothills near the Pakistan border that are a battleground between the Taliban and U.S. armed forces. She is keen to improve her English while her twin brother, Pasoon, is inspired by the Taliban and wants to avenge their older sister, killed by an American bomb on her wedding day. Reshmina helps a wounded American soldier, making her village a Taliban target. In 2001, Brandon Chavez is spending the day with his father, who works at the World Trade Center’s Windows on the World restaurant. Brandon is heading to the underground mall when a plane piloted by al-Qaida hits the tower, and his father is among those killed. The two storylines develop in parallel through alternating chapters. Gratz’s deeply moving writing paints vivid images of the loss and fear of those who lived through the trauma of 9/11. However, this nuance doesn’t extend to the Afghan characters; Reshmina and Pasoon feel one-dimensional. Descriptions of the Taliban’s Afghan victims and Reshmina's gentle father notwithstanding, references to all young men eventually joining the Taliban and Pasoon's zeal for their cause counteract this messaging. Explanations for the U.S. military invasion of Afghanistan in the author’s note and in characters’ conversations too simplistically present the U.S. presence.

Falters in its oversimplified portrayal of a complicated region and people. (author’s note) (Fiction. 9-12)

Pub Date: Feb. 2, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-338-24575-2

Page Count: 336

Publisher: Scholastic

Review Posted Online: Dec. 15, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2021

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet

However the compelling fitness of theme and event and the apt but unexpected imagery (the opening sentences compare the...

TUCK EVERLASTING

At a time when death has become an acceptable, even voguish subject in children's fiction, Natalie Babbitt comes through with a stylistic gem about living forever. 

Protected Winnie, the ten-year-old heroine, is not immortal, but when she comes upon young Jesse Tuck drinking from a secret spring in her parents' woods, she finds herself involved with a family who, having innocently drunk the same water some 87 years earlier, haven't aged a moment since. Though the mood is delicate, there is no lack of action, with the Tucks (previously suspected of witchcraft) now pursued for kidnapping Winnie; Mae Tuck, the middle aged mother, striking and killing a stranger who is onto their secret and would sell the water; and Winnie taking Mae's place in prison so that the Tucks can get away before she is hanged from the neck until....? Though Babbitt makes the family a sad one, most of their reasons for discontent are circumstantial and there isn't a great deal of wisdom to be gleaned from their fate or Winnie's decision not to share it. 

However the compelling fitness of theme and event and the apt but unexpected imagery (the opening sentences compare the first week in August when this takes place to "the highest seat of a Ferris wheel when it pauses in its turning") help to justify the extravagant early assertion that had the secret about to be revealed been known at the time of the action, the very earth "would have trembled on its axis like a beetle on a pin." (Fantasy. 9-11)

Pub Date: Nov. 1, 1975

ISBN: 0312369816

Page Count: 164

Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux

Review Posted Online: April 13, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 1, 1975

Did you like this book?

more