Friday, April 22, 2016

Guy Friday- Little Guys

So here's the thing: I have not seen a basketball game since about 1974, when my family would go to high school games and I had an enormous crush on Fred Davis. I even asked the poor boy for his autograph! I don't watch football; the only sport that has any appeal to me at all is running. Still, I know that many of my students adore sports and want to spend inordinate amounts of time watching them, playing them, and reading about them. 

There are relatively few sports books, and I do have students who really and truly have read everything I have. This is why I am glad when sports players write books. I don't care who helps them. Their name on the cover makes it easy to hand the book to a student. Ronde and Tiki Barber, Amare Stoudemire, Cal Ripken and Derek Jeter have all tried their hand at writing books for middle grade students, and I'm glad to see that younger readers also have a book that hits their interests. Little Shaq has done well with my struggling readers, and I'll be looking forward to Little Shaq: Star of the Week when it comes out 25 October 2016. 

And as for Fred, I understand that he has gone on to become quite the pillar of the community!

25663555O'Neal, Shaquille. Little Shaq Takes a Chance
April 26th 2016 by Bloomsbury USA Childrens
ARC from Bloomsbury
Also reviewed at Young Adult Books Central

Little Shaq is not at all excited about the upcoming school art fair because he doesn't feel that he is good at anything artistic. His cousin Barry doesn't help, but his friend Rosa suggests that he try lots of things before giving up. It's not just art that makes Shaq frustrated-- he is also leery of trying new foods like sushi as well. Once he tries several forms of art, and is frustrated by each one of them, he finally tries sculpting. He likes it, and is able to complete his project in time for the art show. He also decides to stop being stubborn and to try sushi as well. 

This is a short book (64 pages) that is set up like an I Can Read book. There are no more than about five sentences on each page, and the illustrations by Theodore Taylor III are plentiful. These are two crucial elements for readers who are either beginning to read or are struggling with it. These readers like to be able to turn pages quickly and finish books, and the pictures provide clues to the content. 

While the reluctance to try something new is a topic that will resonate best with younger readers, the bright covers have cartoon style pictures that make them look solidly middle grade. Older readers can carry them around without being embarrassed. 

I wish that there were a little more basketball in this story, but young readers of any age interested in basketball will find Shaq's story of trying new things to be amusing as well as informative. 

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