by Mike Lupica
Danny Walker's dreams of basketball glory are dashed when he doesn't make the seventh-grade travel team in his small New York town, simply because he doesn't have the all-important height advantage this year's basketball dads are looking for. It doesn't matter that he is one of the best basketball players in town. It doesn't matter that he played on the fifth- and sixth-grade travel teams. It doesn't even matter that his father is the Richie Walker, who led his own seventh-grade travel team to a national championship, only to have his pro career cut short by a disabling car accident. Or maybe that last one does matter, because this year's seventh-grade team is coached by a bitter rival of Richie Walker.
To Danny Walker, basketball is life. So when he starts talking about giving it up, his Mom and his friends get very concerned. Concerned enough to bring Danny's deadbeat Dad back into his life. Concerned enough to risk money, friendship, public embarrassment, and total failure by starting a new travel team, just so Danny can play.
Slowly, painfully, a group of misfits, rejects, and average players who didn't even try out for the "real team" shape up to become a real team themselves. Aided by his "supernatural basketball powers" (as Danny's mom calls them), he makes the kind of basketball magic that can turn even a little guy like him into a giant. Gradually Danny emerges as a leader, kids used to losing learn how to win, and the Middletown Warriors prove that the game is at its best when it's about kids having fun.
New York-based sportswriter and kids' basketball coach Mike Lupica seems ideally qualified to write this book, which will appeal to all athletics-minded kids; though his hip, grammatically loose, IM-savvy writing style may cause some Moms and teachers to frown. Because it is such a book of this moment in American culture, and loaded with basketball lingo to boot, I will not predict that it will become a classic. Rather, I will predict that, for right now, it holds a lot of appeal: enough to keep up a kid's habit of reading even when he tires of magical fantasies, teen melodramas, and serious literature.
St. Louis, USA
Recommended Age: 12+
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