SECOND-STRING CENTER

WINNING SEASON

Cornell “Dunk” Duncan and his team from Dunk Under Pressure (2006) return for another in the Winning Season series. They are seventh-graders now. Dunk hopes for a place on the team, and gets his wish as back-up center. He might be only second string, but he gets to play. Jared, first-string center, is enduring the first stages of his parents’ divorce, and it interferes with his play and makes him late to games and practice. Jared confides in Dunk, and Dunk is “there” for him. After much practice and a false start, all ends well with a win and Jared’s dad promising to get an apartment in town. Some of the dialogue sounds like 1950s high-schoolers rather than modern New Jersey middle-schoolers, and the scant plot is never allowed to get in the way of the sports action. However, for reluctant readers and sports fans, this, like the rest of the series, is a strong choice. (Fiction. 8-12)

Pub Date: Sept. 6, 2007

ISBN: 978-0-670-06150-1

Page Count: 128

Publisher: Viking

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2007

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It's a deftly worked resolution, inspirational message and all.

IN THE YEAR OF THE BOAR AND JACKIE ROBINSON

A young Chinese arrival, self-named Shirley Temple Wong, finds a secure, bicultural niche in 1945-46 Brooklyn—as, it's suggested, did Chinese American novelist Lord (Spring Moon).

The opening passages, meant to evoke a traditional Chinese household, have a slightly artificial, storybook quality; but once Lord gets Shirley to the Brooklyn neighborhood of look-alike houses, and into P.S. 8 where not two children look alike, this becomes an endearing, warming account of immigrant woes and joys. Her first afternoon, after Father has shown her around, Shirley insists on going to fetch cigarettes—"Rukee Sike"; she proudly procures them, from a substitute store ("Nothing to it at all"), then loses her way back ("What a fool she was!")—but Father and his guests, finding her, still march her home triumphant. She is put into the fifth grade, not only knowing no English, but actually a year ahead of herself (asked her age, she held up ten fingers—because a Chinese child is one year old at birth); in response to a wink, she takes to blinking (a tic, wonders the teacher); introduced, she bows. And, from her general differentness, she's soon ignored, friendless; a failure, too, as "China's little ambassador" of her mother's imagining. (In a poignant bit, P.S. 8's second "Chinese" student proves to be from Chattanooga, and not to speak Chinese.) The turnaround starts with two black eyes from Mabel, "the tallest and the strongest and the scariest girl in all the fifth grade." Shirley doesn't tattle; Mabel befriends her—picking her for stickball, coaching her; and, from an inadvertent resemblance to Jackie Robinson (" 'Cause she's pigeontoed and stole home"), she develops a passion for the Dodgers and an identification with Robinson ("making a better America," proclaims her teacher) that climaxes when she presents him with the keys to P.S. 8. But in a nice parallel with a Chinese tale, this identification also allows Shirley to wear "two gowns," and to imagine her Chinese relatives clapping along with the P.S. 8 audience.

It's a deftly worked resolution, inspirational message and all.

Pub Date: Sept. 5, 1984

ISBN: 978-0-06-440175-3

Page Count: 180

Publisher: Harper/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: Aug. 11, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 1984

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Tris is a charmer, and readers will root for him all the way.

THE DOUGHNUT KING

From the Doughnut Fix series , Vol. 2

Twelve-year old Tris Levin has come to love the tiny upstate New York town of Petersville, where his family relocated from New York City in The Doughnut Fix (2018).

He cannot keep up with the demand of his booming doughnut business. He and his partner, Josh, decide the solution is to acquire an extremely costly robotic doughnut-making machine, but how to make it happen? Petersville’s shrinking population is causing it to lose the post office, and the library and school are at risk as well. An effort to make the town a foodie destination with Mom’s Station House restaurant and Tris’ Doughnut Stop as mainstays is just the beginning of a renewal plan. Tris reluctantly enters a televised kids’ cooking contest to try to win the big prize while advertising his town. Readers view the events and characters entirely through Tris’ thoughts as he narrates his own tale earnestly and honestly, learning much about himself. He makes and loses a friend, fellow contestant Keya, an Indian girl with whom he has lovely discussions of the Yiddish language and his family’s few Jewish traditions. (The book adheres to a white default.) His takes on the highs, lows, and draconian demands of the contest, hosted by the evil Chef JJ, are both hilarious and a spot-on spoof of reality shows. There are some surprise twists and a satisfying outcome.

Tris is a charmer, and readers will root for him all the way. (recipes, acknowledgements) (Fiction. 8-12)

Pub Date: May 7, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-4926-5544-2

Page Count: 336

Publisher: Sourcebooks Jabberwocky

Review Posted Online: Feb. 13, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2019

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