DOUBLE DUTCH by Sharon M. Draper


Age Range: 11 - 15


Delia is an intelligent, creative, eighth-grade student with a secret: she cannot read. No one has guessed because she memorizes material learned from discussion, watches videos instead of reading a book, and volunteers to do special projects like skits or posters instead of written reports. But she is faced with taking a major proficiency test that she knows she cannot pass. Her friend Randy also has a secret: he has not heard from his father for several weeks. A long-distance truck driver, who’s often away from home, he has always kept in constant touch with Randy. But now Randy is running out of money and food, and he’s afraid to tell anyone. Delia and Randy, along with several of their friends, are part of a Double Dutch team that will compete in a national tournament. The details and play-by-play of the Double Dutch practices and contests provide the core around which the rest of the story develops. Several other issues are addressed along the way, and are dealt with nicely by the cast of supporting characters. Delia’s friend Yolanda tells fantastic, outlandish stories about herself and her life so earnestly that even her friends are sometimes unable to know when she is telling the truth. The Tolliver twins’ threatening demeanor and attitude mask a fear of loss and separation that they manage to overcome heroically during a devastating tornado that hits their school. Even Delia and Randy’s more serious problems have happy, though not perfect, conclusions. Perhaps there are too many subplots, too many characters with too many problems, even too many happy endings, but Draper makes it work. Delia and her friends are delightful, and the reader is rooting for them all the way. A fast-paced, multi-layered story. (Fiction. 11-15)

Pub Date: June 1st, 2001
ISBN: 0-689-84230-9
Page count: 192pp
Publisher: Atheneum
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 1st, 2002


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