Since she’s getting curvier and taller all at once, Sarah feels awkward on the basketball court for the first time ever. Coach says this is normal and that the 7th grader will get used to herself again – but how long will that take!?
As Coach discusses nutrition in health class, Sarah and so-cute Benny decide to be partners for the Chef Junior competition at their Massachusetts school – he cooks such wonderful things for his family!
When Dad’s away, Mom can forget that Sarah needs a good dinner every night. At least she remembered to sign the Chef Junior permission slip.
Mom hides candy from herself, eats only little bits of boring food, forgets to buy Sarah the healthy food she asks for – how will she get back to her best size for basketball?
Ready for his free throw, he blew a kiss – straight to her heart, falling, falling…
Actually Rex blows a kiss to his late mother before every free throw, and Carli fell courtside before her game because of a gallbladder attack, but their hearts connect as social media helps the upper-class Black teens find each other across Houston.
Numbers record their basketball success, map out his geometry of perfect landscape design, show her patterns that reveal truths and paths in art.
But numbers don’t tell everything like Rex’s guilt because his birth caused mom’s death, Carli’s pain as a family truth is revealed to be a lie, or the cataclysmic ups and downs of first love.
Will Rex’s dad ever come to a game or keep ignoring his only child forever? Will Daddy ever tell Carli and Cole why Mom is suddenly divorcing him? How can Carli tell her championship teammates that she hates playing basketball?
Happy book birthday to this tale in two voices, showering sparks and raining tears as Rex and Carli try to find themselves and hopefully find each other, too. From the author of Calling My Name (recommended here).
When have you met someone and felt like you’ve known them forever? **kmm
Book info: All the Things We Never Knew / Liara Tamani. Greenwillow Books, 2020. [author site] [publisher site] Review copy and cover image courtesy of the publisher.
Her stepfather is especially mean to Amirah’s younger brother who is deaf – hopefully getting all three younger siblings out of the house to the Islamic Center’s summer program will help Mom’s depression (another divorce coming?) sigh…
Mum’s death sent Dad’s business into freefall, brought Ali back to their faith – now the house is sold and they’ll be in London for his summer before college…
Playing basketball with the guys in their city Muslim neighborhood, Ali sees a young woman in hijab over there…who is she of the red shoes?
Will the right circumstances allow these new neighbors to meet properly, correctly, soon? Can Amirah find a way to attend art school before her older brother arranges her marriage? Can Ali convince his dad that law school was Mum’s dream, not his own?
Meet these Muslim families in south London and know more about their lives and worries and dreams. Find this 2014 book at your local library (worldcat.org/libraries) or independent bookstore (indiebound.org/indie-store-finder or https://bookshop.org/).
What happy ending are you willing to work for and wait for? **kmm
Book info: She Wore Red Trainers / Na’ima B. Robert. Kube Publishing, 2014. [author site] [publisher site] Review copy and cover image courtesy of the publisher.
Pippa loves basketball, but her big sister won’t let her try out for the middle school team until her grades are better. Algebra tutor, from snooty Lakeview Private? Yuck.
Their mother agrees, back in Korea after her work visa in Massachusetts expired. Good grades will be Pippa’s path forward, beyond the family laundromat and its long hours of work.
When Lakeview offers Pippa a basketball scholarship, Omma and sister are delighted. Pippa decides to reinvent herself as a cool girl… but can she do it at the same school as her math tutor Eliot, where his father is the principal?!
How can Pippa keep her fancy new friends from knowing her humble origins? Can she keep up her grades to keep this scholarship? Who recommended her for this scholarship anyway?
Worried about her best friend since forever Buddy, about Omma’s health, about playing against her old school in the big game… action on and off the court is getting intense!
How hard is it to live up to family expectations? **kmm
Book info: Pippa Park Raises Her Game / Erin Yun. Fabled Films Press, 2020. [book site] Review copy and cover image courtesy of the publisher.
The Van Gogh brothers shared dreams and heartaches throughout their lives, with Vincent leaving their family home to pursue his art and Theo later giving him a place to stay and work in Paris. Based on their lifetime of correspondence.
hokey or helpful?
Hopefully heal his heartbreak.
Ashish needs to get over his breakup (first time he’s ever been dumped) and get back his basketball groove, and his Indian-American parents think setting him up with a nice Desi girl will help?
Sweetie wants her mom to realize that losing weight won’t make the high school junior happier (her friends love her right now) or run any faster (no one can beat her on the track), but how? Time for ‘Project Sassy Sweetie’ and getting out of her comfort zone!
Four very specific dates (and a behavior contract – Pappa is always a businessman) – Ashish’s Ma is sure that Sweetie is the perfect girl for him, but his love-and-leave reputation in the close-knit Bay area Desi community makes Sweetie’s mother say no to the idea.
But Sweetie says yes (Project Sassy Sweetie!), so off they go, to the temple and the Holi festival and his eccentric aunt’s place, each time enjoying one another’s company more.
Surely, on their fourth date for Sweetie’s birthday party, Amma will see this indeed was a good idea… Surely, Ashish’s white ex-girlfriend will completely fade from his memory…
Told in alternating chapters, this fun (but not frivolous) romantic story is a May 2019 companion to When Dimple Met Rishi (Ashish’s perfect big brother) – you can enjoy this book without reading the other (my no-spoiler recommendation here), but make yourself happier by reading both!
What ingrained family opinion have you overcome for the better? **kmm
Book info: There’s Something About Sweetie / Sandhya Menon. Simon Pulse, 2019. [author site] [publisher site] Review copy and cover image courtesy of the publisher.
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)
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