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A Lot or a Little?
What you will—and won't—find in this book.
Features lots of real basketball plays, moves, play designs, and strategy. Also covers how statistics works, how awareness and knowledge of statistics can help, hurt, and benefit teams and individual players.
Positive Role Models
Tony is a fantastic main character, kind, determined, smart, and especially because after he's denied his dream, he pivots to an important role, despite it not initially being what he wanted. He's able to have an impact on his friends and peers, driving them to better themselves as players and as human beings.
The main characters are primarily Black. Other characters are Asian and Latino. Only one girl character (an older sister) has lines.
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Violence & Scariness
A Black teen boy is shot by police, but the scene is not narrated; characters only hear about it happening. Other kids try to plan to scare the offending officer, but they get caught by police. Because of the lack of justice for the fallen teen, some scenes feature characters experiencing fear, depression, and anxiety. A few instances fistfights. One kid gets an "uppercut to the jaw" and "blood sprays" everywhere.
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Sex, Romance & Nudity
Some kids make fun of a boy because he has a crush on a girl. A boy thinks a girl is "beautiful."
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"Butt" and "sucks."
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Products & Purchases
References to: YouTube, Google, Instagram, Twitter, Snapchat, Disney, Apple and Apple products, Hallmark, ESPN and Sportscenter, Sony Playstation, NBA 2K videogame franchise, Kool-Aid, Fruit Loops, UPS, Nike, Adidas, "Kobe" shoes, "KD" shoes, "Lebrons" (shoes), The Voice (TV show), Ray Charles, Mary Poppins, the Milwaukee Bucks NBA team, and the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame.
Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that Shot Clock, by Caron Butler, assistant coach of the Miami Heat NBA team, and author Justin A. Reynolds, is a middle grade novel about an eighth grade boy, Tony, trying to make it onto his elite AAU basketball team with his friends. But before tryouts, his friend, a local basketball phenom and sophomore in high school, gets gunned down by a police officer. As the community feels the hit of their loss and the lack of justice, Tony must bounce back somehow if he wants to be a part of the team. The shooting is not described, so characters only hear about it. There are some brief fistfights, including one punch that makes "blood go everywhere." Some kids try to intimidate a police officer and he feels scared for his life. A boy has a crush on a girl and thinks she's "beautiful."
Is It Any Good?
Exciting basketball and police brutality are strong themes in this unevenly written sports story. On the one hand, all of the basketball action in Shot Clock is phenomenal, detailed, and incredibly vivid. There are numerous game situations, plays, strategies, hits and misses, victories and losses. On the other hand, however, the general narration, how time passes, and the overall flow of the writing is a little messy. Relationships and locations aren't described well or often at all. There's a lot of dialogue, and sometimes it can be hard to follow from scene to scene. However, the story is strong, the messages are positive, powerful, and important, and the main character is unique in that he isn't the star basketball player but still manages to be the star of the team.
Did we miss something on diversity?
Research shows a connection between kids' healthy self-esteem and positive portrayals in media. That's why we've added a new "Diverse Representations" section to our reviews that will be rolling out on an ongoing basis. You can help us help kids by suggesting a diversity update.