Mike Lupica has the knowledge of the game and the lean prose to make this a taut, realistic story not just about basketball but also about heart, character and family.
My son really identified with the main character. Excellent Sports Book.
Grade 5-8Danny is a basketball fanatic. He is smart, talented, fast, and dedicated, but short. When he fails to make the seventh-grade travel team, he also fails to follow in the footsteps of his legendary father, Richie Walker, who led his own 12-year-old team to win the nationals and whose career was tragically ended by a car accident. Danny, who lives with his warm and supportive mom, has a somewhat stilted relationship with his less-reliable father. Danny did not make the squad because of the machinations of Richie's childhood nemesis, Mr. Ross, a controlling man who is determined to build a winning team. Although this text lacks only the stage directions and music cues to make the transition to the small screen as a Hallmark special, it really is a fun book for sports fans. Danny and the others cut from the travel team predictably form their own squad, coached by his father who battles alcoholism (and another car accident!) to lead them, with Danny's leadership, to the climactic game against their arch rivals. Although the kids compare themselves to the Bad News Bears, they are strictly old-school, harkening back to Stephen W. Meader's Sparkplug of the Hornets(Harcourt, 1968; o.p.). There's even a sweetly innocent romance with a wise-beyond-her-years girl who uses IM/chat to provide Danny with support just when he needs it most. A round-ball heart-warmer.