Myers, Walter Dean. Oh, Snap!
August 1st 2013 by Scholastic Press
The students who run the "underground" newspaper at DaVinci Academy Middle School in Harlem are pretty pleased that their paper, the Cruiser, comes in third place in a survey by the School Journalism Association, but Ashley, who is editor of the official paper, the Palette, is less than pleased. The two papers start running competing editorials about a number of things, and when the Palette manages to arrange with a well known British school newspaper to run copies of their articles, the staff of the Cruiser contacts the school to see if they can connect somehow as well, mentioning that they have a picture of Phat Tony, who may or may not be involved in a gang related robbery at the local mall. Phat Tony, who has been arrested in conjunction with the suspected event, has capitalized on his "gangsta" status to try to gather would-be rappers at DaVinci, but the British school contacts Scotland Yard, which contacts the local police, and soon the staff of the Cruisers must explain themselves to the local authorities. More light is shed on the event, and Fat Tony is exonerated. and the newspapers agree to disagree.
Other books in this series are The Cruisers, Checkmate and A Star is Born.
Strengths: It's great to see inner city GIFTED children portrayed, and while gangs are addressed, the book is about journalism and things other than race. These books are all very short. I only have the first one in my library, but I'm going to order the other two now that I have a copy of the fourth. They are reminiscent in size and type face to Paulsen's Liar, Liar series, and while not funny like that series, will appeal to the reluctant middle grade reader who doesn't want to read "baby books". There were several other issues, like a mother who did modeling and commercials and was irritated that her ex-husband found an acting job, that readers will like.
Weaknesses: It's hard for me to believe that a middle school has ONE newspaper, let alone two, but that could be the case. The language seemed a bit off to me. There was some slang, not a lot, and it seemed somehow forced. Does anyone use the word "dig" to mean "understand" anymore?