Although hardly an insightful examination of brotherly problems, ample basketball play-by-play makes this a more attractive...

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DOUBLE DRIBBLE

From the Athlete vs. Mathlete series , Vol. 2

Seventh-grade fraternal twins Russ and Owen (Athlete vs. Mathlete, 2013) return for a second outing, once again exploring in alternating first-person voices the differences between brothers as filtered through their basketball experiences.

Russ, the brainiac, and Owen, his athletically focused twin, are now getting along better, both doing their parts to make sure their basketball team has a winning season. Things are going well until the coach invites a pair of newcomers, identical twins Marcus and Mitch, to join the team midseason. These twins dress and act alike and have little interest in making friends outside their comfortable but seriously limiting brotherly relationship. Worse, they’re gifted athletically and academically, creating competition with both Russ and Owen, and the coach is giving them plenty of court time, which leaves Owen feeling especially jealous and very resentful. Remarkably, he even contemplates hurting one of the twins to save his place on the team. It takes an accidental injury that sidelines Marcus to expose the weaknesses the identical duo share and quite a lot of prompting from the more mature Russ and other teammates to get Owen to put the team’s needs before his own feelings. Once that’s accomplished, a too-easy resolution neatly wraps up the conflict.

Although hardly an insightful examination of brotherly problems, ample basketball play-by-play makes this a more attractive offering for reluctant readers. (Fiction. 10-14)

Pub Date: Nov. 5, 2013

ISBN: 978-1-61963-129-8

Page Count: 192

Publisher: Bloomsbury

Review Posted Online: Sept. 14, 2013

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 1, 2013

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Readers who don’t need endings tied up with tight little bows will find much to think about here.

INFINITE SKY

Tragedy emerges from the commonplace miseries of everyday life in this evocative mood piece.

Thirteen-year-old Iris lives with her dad and older brother, Sam, in rural England. Until recently, Iris and Sam had a mum as well, but she’s taken off to Tunisia on a mission to find herself. Now Sam’s associating with ruffians, Dad’s taken to drinking, and Iris is avoiding her best friend, unable to bear the smug pity. When a few caravans of Irish “travelers” squat illegally in Dad’s paddock, Iris sees the possibility of something fresh and untainted in her life. But Dad and Sam loathe the travelers, calling them “Gypsies,” “parasites” and worse. Iris strikes up a friendship—and maybe more?—with 14-year-old Trick, but her father becomes increasingly erratic as he sees his control over his family slipping away. Her Dad repeatedly threatens eviction, and Iris must decide whom to believe in the face of petty crime. A senseless act of violence leads to heavily foreshadowed tragedy. This brief, gloomy debut concludes tidily though with an unclear trajectory: After a summer’s adventure, everyone’s right where they started yet nothing’s the same, mirroring the intransigence of hate.

Readers who don’t need endings tied up with tight little bows will find much to think about here. (Fiction. 10-13)

Pub Date: May 27, 2014

ISBN: 978-1-4814-0658-1

Page Count: 256

Publisher: Atheneum

Review Posted Online: March 12, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 2014

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An entertaining tale of baseball, family and loyalty.

GAME SEVEN

Sixteen-year-old Julio Ramirez Jr. dreams of being a junior Nacional and playing for Cuba against the best young players around the world.

Baseball is “practically a religion” in Cuba, and Julio’s father was like a Cuban god, an all-star pitcher for the Cuban National Team. Now, having defected, he’s a star for the Miami Marlins. But instead of pride, Julio feels resentment toward his father for abandoning his family to a life of poverty while he, the great El Fuego, lives the high life in Miami with his multimillion-dollar contract. Moreover, Julio’s baseball dreams may not come true: How can he be trusted to leave the country when his father defected; won’t he do the same? So Julio defects too, and in a tense and slightly comic scene, he drives to Florida in a green ’59 Buick that’s been converted into a boat. Julio’s reconciliation with his father is handled deftly in its poignant awkwardness, and baseball action is appropriately exciting, though the notion that Julio is allowed to hang out with his father during Game 7 of the World Series is seriously implausible. Volponi wisely shies away from a tidy, inspirational ending but does leave room for hope for reconciliation.

An entertaining tale of baseball, family and loyalty. (Fiction. 10-14)

Pub Date: March 10, 2015

ISBN: 978-0-670-78518-6

Page Count: 256

Publisher: Viking

Review Posted Online: Dec. 22, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2015

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