Matt would be a basketball standout, Best friend Tabby would know that he loved her, and the accident would never have happened.
But life isn’t scripted, and Matt has to somehow get through his junior year without redheaded, Nerds-fanatic Tabby right next door or being called up to the varsity basketball team…
How do you react when life goes off-script? **kmm
Book info: A Short History of the Girl Next Door / Jared Reck. Alfred A. Knopf Books, hardcover 2017, Ember paperback 2018. [author site] [publisher site] Review copy and cover image courtesy of the publisher.
Parents won’t discuss family,
Who is Vee? He’s not sure.
Yep, one of those “write about your family history” assignments which make adoptees, foster kids, and those with fractured families cringe, and Vee decides that writing fiction is better than flunking for writing nothing.
I traveled in China a few years ago, so I can mentally see and smell and hear the inauspicious family trip that Vee, his Texan mom, his Chinese dad, and his best friend-girl take to Dad’s hometown searching for Grandfather Wong.
When it comes to skeletons rattling the family tree, should you ignore, hide, or celebrate them?
Book info: The Counterfeit Family Tree of Vee Crawford-Wong / L. Tam Holland. Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers, 2013. [author site] [publisher site] Review copy and cover image courtesy of the publisher.
My book talk: Basketball, girls, and sad irony – life for Vee was okay. Inventing his family history for a school paper turns things upside down, and his Chinese dad and Texan mom may not see the humor in it, especially when they all go to China on a wild grandfather chase.
Yes, they gave him a name that couldn’t be mistaken for Chinese. No, Dad and Mom will never talk about their parents, ever. Yes, Vee loves basketball more than anything, but passion doesn’t equal talent. No, he is not going to fail honors history merely because he has no known family history to write about!
Getting cut from JV team is awful, but being named manager of the girls’ varsity team could be alright. It’s odd being around Adele outside history class where she hangs out (Mr. Riley helped her out of a tough spot once, she says) – maybe Vee is misreading the extra attention she pays him, or maybe not.
Vee’s best friend Madison’s Chinese is much better than his, so she helps him “reinvent” family information for the history paper and writes a letter to his dad as if from his long-estranged grandfather in China. This extra-credit detail sends the Crawford-Wongs (plus Madison) to Dad’s home village in search of family healing, and what a strange trip their journey becomes!
What if they really find Grandfather? What if they don’t?
What caused Mom’s parents to cut off communication?
What does senior Adele see in Vee (or is he imagining things)?
Complicated family history plus misunderstandings at school (on and off the court) might make Vee wish he’d never written that paper or might let him finally discover who he is, at last. (One of 6,000 books recommended on www.abookandahug.com)
Picture books aren’t just for the toddler set anymore! This E for Everyone book chronicles the invention of Basket Ball by teacher James Naismith over 120 years ago, trying to keep gangly, over-energetic teen boys from turning their indoor winter PE class into a free-for-all.
The illustrations by Canadian Joe Morse are as jostling and boards-thumping as any modern-day photo of NBA playoff action. You’ve seen his artwork anchoring sports writing and advertisements, as well as recent sports picture books, like Stephen Krenksy’s 2011 hit Play Ball, Jackie.
Children’s Book Week gives all of us a reason to share our favorites, old and new, as we fan the spark of child-like wonder in each of us.
What other children’s books about sports would you recommend?
Book info: Hoop Genius: How a Desperate Teacher and a Rowdy Gym Class Invented Basketball / John Coy; illustrated by Joe Morse. Carolrhoda Books, 2013. [author site] [artist site] [publisher site]
My book talk: Indoor gym class, big guys getting bored, their new teacher reluctantly faces them with one last game to try – a new game that takes skill instead of hitting, a game with a ball and a basket.
Yes, basketball was invented in late 1891 by James Naismith in desperation, an indoor variation of the Duck on a Rock game he enjoyed growing up in Canada. His class threw a soccer ball into wooden peach baskets for goals, since no boxes available for the first game.
His young men took the game from Springfield, Massachusetts to their hometowns and beyond. Women began playing basketball in 1892, and Naismith met his future wife while refereeing a local women’s game.
Morse’s illustrations vividly show Naismith’s young men who longed to be moving and competing, all big feet and big hands, as well as their teacher’s many attempts to find them an active indoor sport that wouldn’t injure too many! (One of 6,000 books recommended on www.abookandahug.com) Review copy and cover image courtesy of the publisher.
Our best five players against your best five,
No blood, no foul,
You leaving? Who else wants to play?
Street basketball takes smarts as well as skills, as the guys on your team right now might be on the other team before the hour is out. Sometimes three-pointers will win it all, other times you have to finesse the game.
If you can’t be at The Cage in person, the best streetball games you’ll ever experience are in Pick-Up Game. These writers love the game, know the people watching, take us to the asphalt heat of the court where we can feel the chainlink between our fingers as we watch the players and the ball rush through the summer swelter, hour by hour.
The first story was completed by Walter Dean Myers, then Bruce Brooks wrote his, and so on down the line. So the players and spectators wander in and out of different stories, sometimes starring, sometimes watching, always wondering how everything is going to turn out. Charles R. Smith Jr. uses his photographs of The Cage and his rhythmic, driving poetry to keep the flow going from story to story.
Get this great collection today in hardcover at your local library or independent bookstore; it’s scheduled for paperback release in mid-October 2012.
My Book Talk: The Cage in New York City – home of the best pick-up basketball games ever, where street basketball means “no blood, no foul.” Many viewpoints, many stories from the players and the watchers and the wannabes on this hot July day.
It starts early with a “Cage Run” as Boo and Fish hit the court to face that Waco guy who’s cooler than ice and twice as scary. The day heats up as players leave and enter the pick-up games, like hotshot ESPN who’s always showing off in case any college scouts are watching and “Mira Mira” who’s fast even if he’s shorter than most.
Outside the Cage’s chainlink wall, some watchers want in the game – like Ruben, who hates being called Kid, who knows that “Practice Don’t Make Perfect” only playing will. That guy with the video camera is making the documentary that will get him into NYU film school -“He’s Gotta Have It” – the heart of the players, the meaning of the game.
The games get hotter as quality players show up, turning into a “Head Game” as ‘Nique is the only girl on the court and blasts past ESPN, dishes passes to Waco. Do the legends of street ball watch from the bench in the back? Will the TV crew suddenly arriving really shut down the game for some public-service announcement filming or will they use real players in “The Shoot”?
A whole day in The Cage, with so many ways to see the game, to be the game, in this great collective work by top fiction writers who love basketball and its fans and its place in the heart of New York City. Short stories by Walter Dean Myers, Bruce Brooks, Willie Perdomo, Sharon G. Flake, Robert Burleigh, Rita Williams-Garcia, Joseph Bruchac, Adam Rapp, Robert Lipsyte, and Marc Aronson are fittingly connected by poems and photographs of The Cage by Charles R. Smith Jr. (One of 5,000 books recommended on www.abookandahug.com)
Shhhh… it’s my first Sneak-in Saturday, when I bring you a book that I read, loved, and reviewed BEFORE it rose to the bestseller lists. But it’s not fair to tell y’all about books months and months before you can buy them in your local indie bookstore or find at your library, so I have to wait till release date is near. And sometimes the darn pre-orders take a book to superstar status before it’s even published. Sigh.
It’s nice to find that Dessen is not a “formula” writer, that her situations and characters aren’t just carbon-copies from one book to the next. Her funny tweet today: “Most surreal experience: half asleep in terminal bookshop, hearing commercial for my own book on store TV. Whoa.” on her way to Houston.
Identity, family, friendship, and the future – one of the books y’all will love (even if it did wind up a bestseller, darn it). And some great insights into the restaurant industry and college basketball fandom, too.
Recommendation: Eliza, Beth, Lizbet –at each new school, Mclean uses part of her middle name to reinvent herself after the horrible divorce, as she and her dad travel from town to town so he can help failing restaurants. After Mom left Dad for the basketball coach at the university, their favorite team and shared passion, how could she stay in her hometown?
So she’s the drama rebel in one town, the joining-every-club girl in another, but never makes close friends because they’ll move again soon. She keeps Dad organized while he saves or closes down each restaurant – that and her schoolwork are enough.
Until this time, when she introduces herself as Mclean to the guy next door and winds up with a circle of unlikely friends at school. Getting involved with a community project being built in the restaurant’s upstairs room was a fluke, but what about getting involved with David next door?
How can she avoid her mom’s requests that she visit her new baby brother and sister at the coach’s big new house more often? How long will it take Dad to fix or shut down Luna Blu? When they leave this time, will she be able to just vanish from school again, without any goodbyes?
Another great story with heart from Sarah Dessen – 402 pages. (One of 5,000 books recommended on www.abookandahug.com)
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