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A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this book.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that this is a hard-boiled depiction of life in the ghetto and the world of basketball, as the main character hovers between crime and a scholarship. Poor grammar adds to the realism. Compelling writing illuminates the life of a street-smart kid and a failed athlete. Suspense and great basketball action keep kids hooked.
What's the story?
Lonnie lives in Harlem with little hope for the future. He has one asset, his basketball game. His only chance for a scholarship depends on Cal, a failed pro who has hit bottom. Cal improves Lonnie's game, but disappears just when Lonnie needs him most. Fast basketball action and sensitive characterization combined with a suspenseful story attracts sports-minded readers.
Is it any good?
Fast, detailed basketball action combined with a realistic depiction of life on the streets of Harlem keeps kids who love sports enthralled. Seventeen-year old Lonnie wants to stay out of the violent organized crime in his neighborhood, but has no qualms about stealing a carton of scotch when the opportunity arises. He's in school, but his life revolves around basketball, in which he has real talent. His only chance to escape poverty comes with a basketball tournament for street kids -- Lonnie confidently expects to emerge as a leading player and get a scholarship.
Walter Dean Myers realistically reproduces the slang used by the characters, and gives readers a strong sense of life in the ghetto. Lonnie has little adult supervision but he has values, especially regarding basketball. He's appalled that Cal lost everything by participating in a gambling scheme. The re-emergence of the gamblers in Lonnie's tournament adds considerable suspense.
Talk to your kids about ...
For kids who love coming-of-age stories
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Common Sense Media's unbiased ratings are created by expert reviewers and aren't influenced by the product's creators or by any of our funders, affiliates, or partners.