Archive

Posts Tagged ‘Competition’

The Crossover by Kwame Alexander, illus by Dawud Anyabwile.

July 19, 2020 Comments off

crossoverThe Crossover by Kwame Alexander, illus by Dawud Anyabwile. Pub. Anderson Press, 2020.

This is the most powerful graphic novel  for high school students that I have ever read and it deservedly won the Newbery Medal. It is about basketball and it is about families and all the characters in this novel are black.

JB and Jordan are twins, they are 13 years old and a very gifted basketball players. They live and breathe basketball and they are fans of rap music. Their father was a pro baller and won a championship ring as “da man”, but he is not a well man. Their mother is Principal of the High School the boys attend and both parents are highly involved with boys lives.

The boys compete, the father coaches them and the mother ensures that the boys education takes priority. Then a girl comes on the scene. She is beautiful, wears pink gym shoes and she makes a play for Jordan and they become an item. This upsets JB and the closeness the brothers once had starts to deteriorate to the point that it erupts into a violent act in the middle of a basketball game.

The family is wracked with problems, the boys become enemies and then tragedy. The ending is stunning.

There is lots of basketball talk most of it in rap verse. The book is divided into four quarters and there is a competition going on.

Easy to read with the illustrations superb. I read the book in about an hour and got emotionally involved with what was happening, you will too.

Reluctant boy readers and readers who like sports stories particularly basketball will love this novel. The rap prose is inspiring to as is the relationship between Jordan and the girl. Black Lives matter is also a strong theme of this novel.

The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes. A Hunger Games Novel by Suzanne Collins.

June 4, 2020 Comments off

songbirdsThe Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes. A Hunger Games Novel by Suzanne Collins. Pub Scholastic, 2020.

When I talked about the Hunger Games trilogy in schools when it first came out, the kids were riveted but their teachers were appalled that it involved children killing children. This sequel  addresses that concern and the rest of the inhumane treatment  that is meted out to the children and inhabitants of the 12 Districts by the rulers of Panem in the Capitol.

The civil war that resulted from the Hunger Games is over and the rebels from the Districts were defeated but not eliminated. Cassus Snow the Capitol leader is killed and there is a new guard, but Capitol has inflicted severe and more inhuman control over the Districts. The  10th Hunger Games are to take place and one of the most vile and sadistic characters I have read in children’s literature, a woman named Dr Gaul, is in charge of presenting the games. She is a Dr Mengle type who experiments on animals and humans.

A boy and girl from each of the 12 Districts are to take part in the games they are called tributes, but this time they each have a Mentor from Capitol to guide them. Coriolanus Snow son of Cassus Snow is to mentor Lucy Gray Baird from District 12 where Katniss came from. The relationship between Coriolanus and Lucy is at the heart of this novel but it is not the only one of importance.

The relationship between Sejanus Plinth, the son of a wealthy family and Coriolanus is of equal importance as Sejanus is also a mentor of a competitor in the Hunger games. It is Sejanus that heads the argument against the inhumane and barbaric treatment of the Districts and in particular the tributes in the games supported by Coriolanus in his relationship with Lucy. Can they change the way Capitol regards the District people?

As the games start inside an arena, not in an outdoor environment as with the first series, and the killing starts, all hell breaks loose.

If you are a new reader of this series do not worry you will not be all at sea, but if you have read the first series you will be totally absorbed in the new circumstances and at the more severe inhumane and barbaric treatment of the tributes in the Games

No characters from the earlier Trilogy are in this novel.

Stunningly written but not for the faint hearted. From Intermediate to YA in appeal. Over 500 pages long.

One Perfect Pirouette by Sherryl Clark

September 14, 2010 Leave a comment

One perfect Pirouette by Sherryl Clark. Pub. University of Queensland Press, 2010.

This is a wonderful reassuring story of a family that makes sacrifices to help a young girl pursue her dreams of attending the Australian School of ballet.

Brynna shows real talent at ballet and her teacher recommends that she move from Bendigo in the country to Melbourne, and take lessons from a respected ballet teacher to enhance her future plans and dreams. The whole family is not committed to these plans with older brother Tam leaving the family to return home to pursue his plans and dreams. Family pressures!!

The parents, who are excellent role models, in spite of financial hardship and personal pressures, give Brynna every chance to excel and achieve her goals. Not everything goes well but no-one loses sight of the goal.

Brynna has to contend not only with family pressures but with opposition and hostility from other girls wanting to succeed in the ballet world. One character Stephenie is a particularly nasty piece of work.

An interesting facet of this story is how physically demanding ballet is and how superbly fit the dancers are. Sherryl Clark masterfully compares Brynna’s quest with those of her brother Orrin as he strives to succeed in Aussie Rules football. In fact this book could have been about any sport at all, male or female.

There are lots of jetes, arabesques and pirouettes in the book and I for one learnt a lot. Brynna is an excellent character and there are some noteworthy male characters like Brynna’s brother Orrin and her secret friend Ricky.

This is not a girlie book, both sexes will enjoy this novel. You will love the ending.

An excellent story for Intermediate and junior secondary school students.