Howling, Eric. Hoop Magic.
1 March 2014, Lorimer
E ARC from Netgalley.com
Orlando loves basketball, but initially doesn't make the school team because he is on the short side. When another player is injured, however, he is on and ready to play. This helps him settle into his new school, which he is attending because he is tired of people asking him about his sister, who is blonde and blue eyed because Orlando was adopted from Haiti. While Orlando isn't the best basketball player, he does a really good job at "announcing" the games, and that really pumps up the team. When he uses his skill when he has a substitute teacher, however, he gets in big trouble and is forbidden to announce anything at school. Once he wins a contest to help radio personalities announce a game, his principal relents, and he manages to talk his team to victory.
Strengths: The Lorimer sports books are nice, easy reads with lots of play-by-plays and nicely multicultural characters. For short books, they pack in a lot of character development and plot. I liked Orlando's sister being better than him in basketball!
Weaknesses: I want to see the cover in person-- on the computer it looks somehow oddly drawn, but it might be a photograph. Covers matter a LOT in sports books. The other drawback is that many of the Lorimer books are not on the Accelerated Reader list, but would be perfect for readers who are ready to move beyond the one point Jake Maddox books. Good news, though-- Steven Sandor's Replay now has a test, so I'll definitely be ordering it!
Barber, Ronde and Tiki, and Mantell, Paul. Jump Shot.
November 5th 2013
by Simon & Schuster/Paula Wiseman Books
Ronde and Tiki are sad that they are no longer playing football for the Eagles, but they are busy with other things, like working and writing an advice column for the school newspaper. They enjoy watching the basketball team, but notice that the best player, Sugar, is causing dissension in the group and causing the team to lose games. When the coach approaches them to say that one player has left school and he has one spot left on the team, the two decide that Tiki will join the team and Ronde will go to work. Tiki isn't the best basketball player, and he notices that something is bugging Sugar to make him unmanageable. When Ronde finds that another boy at work has been acting out because his mother is ill, the duo discovers that Sugar is acting out because his parents are getting divorced. Ronde decides that he will try being on the team for a while, and he manages to connect a bit with Sugar, and proves a better player than Tiki. Will it be enough to pull the team out of their slump?
Strenghths: This is a nice, short, pleasant sports novel showcasing good values and decisions. The football series has done very well in my school, and when I got two copies of this in with a book order, they were checked out within an hour. Solid stuff for reluctant, sports loving readers.
Weaknesses: These tend to be somewhat preachy. I would feel better about this if the characters weren't based on real people, not that the Barbers aren't spectacular people. If just seems odd.