STRING MUSIC by Rick Telander


Age Range: 9 - 12
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So who wouldn’t want to hang out with Michael Jordan? That’s how Telander’s protagonist, 11-year-old Robbie Denwood, feels about Jasper Jasmine, the Jordanesque phenom of Robbie’s favorite basketball team, the fictional Thunder. Robbie yearns to be a winner like Jasper—on his school’s basketball team and in life. He’s always picked last to play on the team; his dad walked away from his family; and his mom and teen sister are constantly at odds. Whenever Robbie’s tired of being a loser, which is most of the time, he retreats from his misery to a secret fort he’s built in the woods behind his home. Here he keeps special treasures, like toy soldiers who obey his every command, a salamander, a spider, and numerous photos of Jasper Jasmine. Then, one particularly depressing day, Robbie runs away into Chicago and sneaks into a Thunder game, where he manages to meet and briefly speak to his idol. Something about the boy touches the star’s heart and he invites Robbie to become the team’s ball boy for a few weeks, much to his family’s and friends’ amazement and envy. Even better is the close bond that develops between hero and worshipful fan. Jasper becomes the only person Robbie has ever invited to the secret refuge. There, Jasper confesses that he, too, harbors personal heartaches. By novel’s end, Jasper Jasmine has taught Robbie a few life lessons and has learned some himself. Robbie develops in self-confidence and self-acceptance. Sure, this is all fantasy, but who would begrudge anyone the right to dream? Telander, lead sports columnist for the Chicago Sun-Times, has penned an enjoyable, very readable story that boys especially will appreciate and relate to. Robbie’s a nice kid, and Jasper’s a really nice guy. (Fiction. 9-12)

Pub Date: May 1st, 2001
ISBN: 0-8126-2657-5
Page count: 144pp
Publisher: Cricket
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 15th, 2002