Mistake #1: Ignore Books that Book Lovers Rave About
I'd been hearing about this book for a while now, and I was aware that it won the Newbery, but for some reason, it just never made it to my reading list. Now, you have to wonder why a book that won not only that, but the Coretta Scott King award didn't somehow attract my attention, but the fault lies entirely with me, not with the book.
Our school's PTO held a book fair last week, and when I saw the book sitting on one of the shelves, I put it in my "to buy" pile. The parents were gracious enough to let my pile sit behind the counter since I came in and out more times than was healthy for my pocketbook! And then, didn't the PTO go and give me all the books in my pile! I was floored, and so grateful!
Mistake #2: Try to Sell a Book to Students That You Haven't Read
I've been able to get away with that from time to time, although it's not a habit I would recommend. It's sloppy, but sometimes I want to get books into students hands fast. If I'm familiar with the author, that helps, but this time I didn't convince anyone. I could tell, because I didn't see too many kids writing the title down on their "Books I Want to Read" list.
And now, having read it, I can see why. I had completely missed the point.
The book is written in verse, and it goes between the pulsing rhythm of the basketball court to the confused musings of a twelve year-old. This is the kind of poetry I love, where letters slide down and across the page, as much meaning found in how the letters are placed as in the word that's chosen.
I could not put this book down! Twin brothers, schooled in basketball by their former pro father, start to separate emotionally as one boy meets a girl. The story is told from multiple points of view, but the lonely twin is the primary focus.
I loved the introspection coming from a boy. I loved the strong, Assistant Principal mom. I loved the banter between father and his sons. I loved the "play by play" going on in the boy's heads. And I loved the values both parents shared for their sons.
Don't wait like I did! Grab up this book and read it aloud to your students, or hand it to that reluctant reader who'd rather be holding some kind of athletic ball than a book in his/her hands.