THE BIG TIME

From the Football Genius series , Vol. 3

Twelve-year-old Football Genius Troy is astonished to see the father he's never met at his coach's house, interrupting their end-of-season victory party. He's a lawyer and agent, and he'd like to represent Troy in contract negotiations to maximize the return on Troy's remarkable ability to predict football plays. This installment of Troy’s story is more focused on sports dealmaking and Troy’s longing for a strong connection with his dad than on the sport itself. Most of the action centers on the trust issues that are generated among his family and friends as questions around his father’s motivation emerge. Troy’s dad is aligned with a shady celebrity in the music business, and the titular "big time" refers to the buckets of money that could be Troy's if he follows his father's advice. Green proves to be as engaging about the business of sports and the kind of cheating it engenders as he is about the game itself. Less satisfying is how small a role Troy’s friends play, although they do give him an assist at key moments. Still, a solid entry in the series. (Mystery. 8-12)

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 2010

ISBN: 978-0-06-168619-1

Page Count: 288

Publisher: Harper/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: July 29, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2010

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Strong characterizations and vivid musical scenes add layers to this warm family story.

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CLAYTON BYRD GOES UNDERGROUND

An African-American youngster is happiest when he can play his harmonica with his bluesman grandfather until tragedy removes the music from his life.

Clayton Byrd idolizes his grandfather, a popular bluesman. But his mother disapproves of her father’s music and of Clayton’s joining Cool Papa Byrd and other bluesmen in the park. Clayton’s father tries to make a place in his life, but the things he likes to do cannot compare to the music. When Cool Papa Byrd dies suddenly, Clayton’s pain is almost unbearable, made worse when his mother gets rid of the records and instruments that Clayton expected would be his way of maintaining that special connection. School becomes as difficult as home, and counseling with the church pastor doesn’t help. Hoping to find a place with the remaining bluesmen, he meets up with a group of street boys making their way with beat music and dance. When he plays his harmonica and the crowd responds, the boys form an uneasy alliance that is threatened when the police intervene. Clayton’s love of his grandfather and his music is wonderfully drawn, as is his grief when he loses them. His mother’s unresolved issues with her own childhood inform the story appropriately for young readers. The conjunction of two African-American music genres, both born of struggle, is a colorful backdrop for this lively story.

Strong characterizations and vivid musical scenes add layers to this warm family story. (Fiction. 8-12)

Pub Date: May 9, 2017

ISBN: 978-0-06-221591-8

Page Count: 176

Publisher: Amistad/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: March 6, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2017

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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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