SLAM!

A Harlem teenager learns how to apply the will he has to win at hoops to other parts of his life in this vivid, fluent story from Myers (Toussaint L'Ouverture, p. 1472, etc.). Greg "Slam" Harris is justly proud of his game, but he realizes that NBA daydreams don't cut it in the classrooms of his new South Bronx magnet school- -and that the tough talk that serves him so well on the street only gets his teachers and his college-bound girlfriend, Mtisha, on his case. Writing in a rolling, fast- break style that sounds so authentic that the absence of rough language is hardly noticeable, Myers brilliantly captures the pace and feel of inner city life as he climbs into the shoes of an angry, confused young man watching his friends making right or wrong turns, and wondering about his own direction. The author plots with rare skill: Slam simultaneously works to mend fences with Mtisha, nerves himself to find out whether his suddenly prosperous main man, Ice, has turned to dealing, and leads the school's unprepossessing team through a series of exciting games to a conference championship. Few writers can match Myers for taut, savvy basketball action, and in those scenes he's at the top of his form. Some loose ends may stay untied, but Slam, after hearing his assistant coach's comment that not all games end at the buzzer, is beginning to find a way to make his pride work for, rather than against, him. Persuasive. (Fiction. 12-15)

Pub Date: Nov. 1, 1996

ISBN: 0-590-48667-5

Page Count: 270

Publisher: Scholastic

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 15, 1996

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WHAT THE MOON SAW

When Clara Luna, 14, visits rural Mexico for the summer to visit the paternal grandparents she has never met, she cannot know her trip will involve an emotional and spiritual journey into her family’s past and a deep connection to a rich heritage of which she was barely aware. Long estranged from his parents, Clara’s father had entered the U.S. illegally years before, subsequently becoming a successful business owner who never spoke about what he left behind. Clara’s journey into her grandmother’s history (told in alternating chapters with Clara’s own first-person narrative) and her discovery that she, like her grandmother and ancestors, has a gift for healing, awakens her to the simple, mystical joys of a rural lifestyle she comes to love and wholly embrace. Painfully aware of not fitting into suburban teen life in her native Maryland, Clara awakens to feeling alive in Mexico and realizes a sweet first love with Pedro, a charming goat herder. Beautifully written, this is filled with evocative language that is rich in imagery and nuance and speaks to the connections that bind us all. Add a thrilling adventure and all the makings of an entrancing read are here. (glossaries) (Fiction. 12-14)

Pub Date: Sept. 12, 2006

ISBN: 0-385-73343-7

Page Count: 272

Publisher: Delacorte

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 2006

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Characters to love, quips to snort at, insights to ponder: typical Spinelli.

DEAD WEDNESDAY

For two teenagers, a small town’s annual cautionary ritual becomes both a life- and a death-changing experience.

On the second Wednesday in June, every eighth grader in Amber Springs, Pennsylvania, gets a black shirt, the name and picture of a teen killed the previous year through reckless behavior—and the silent treatment from everyone in town. Like many of his classmates, shy, self-conscious Robbie “Worm” Tarnauer has been looking forward to Dead Wed as a day for cutting loose rather than sober reflection…until he finds himself talking to a strange girl or, as she would have it, “spectral maiden,” only he can see or touch. Becca Finch is as surprised and confused as Worm, only remembering losing control of her car on an icy slope that past Christmas Eve. But being (or having been, anyway) a more outgoing sort, she sees their encounter as a sign that she’s got a mission. What follows, in a long conversational ramble through town and beyond, is a day at once ordinary yet rich in discovery and self-discovery—not just for Worm, but for Becca too, with a climactic twist that leaves both ready, or readier, for whatever may come next. Spinelli shines at setting a tongue-in-cheek tone for a tale with serious underpinnings, and as in Stargirl (2000), readers will be swept into the relationship that develops between this adolescent odd couple. Characters follow a White default.

Characters to love, quips to snort at, insights to ponder: typical Spinelli. (Fiction. 12-15)

Pub Date: Aug. 3, 2021

ISBN: 978-0-593-30667-3

Page Count: 240

Publisher: Knopf

Review Posted Online: June 1, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 2021

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