ParTitle: Pick and Roll

Author: Kelsey Blair

Author Page at Lorimer: Kelsey Blair

Publisher: James Lorimer & Company

Year: September 1, 2014

Pages: 80 (e-book)

[Disclaimer: I was provided a preview copy of this via NetGalley in exchange for my fair and unbiased review. The version I read and now review was in the form of an e-book I accessed through Adobe Digital Editions on ny Nook reader. Pages numbers may not correspond exactly to other versions.]

Fry reading Level: 3.0 (according to publisher)

Reading age: Grades 4-8 (ages 10-13, again, according to the publisher).

Those who are interested in sports, especially girls basketball, will be interested in this short volume from Lorimer author Kelsey Blair. This is a middle school aged book which I think will appeal to both boys and girls even though the book focuses almost entirely on tension filled, junior high sports world of girls basketball. I suppose unless one has lived it they would never know that the world of junior high sports is so competitive, tension filled, and melodramatic. Nevertheless, that is the impression I got while reading this book. I am not suggesting that is a bad thing merely that this is the nature of the book.

The only real complaint I have about the book is that I think students from the United States who read this volume will be a little confused by the spelling of some words. For example, the words 'offense' and 'defense' are consistently spelled 'offence' and 'defence.' I'm not privy to the publisher's intentions so I cannot make any predictions, but it might be helpful if versions sold in the US had these words spelled with their American English spellings.

The story of Jazz, a junior high girls basketball player, is a fun read. It is written by a woman who herself was a basketball player and who, thus, understands basketball and the lingo and nomenclature well. Technically, the book is spot on. As far as the behavior of junior high girls, I suppose that is spot on too, but I'm from a generation that grew up reading Blubber and Otherwise Known as Shelia the Great. Blair was a little more subtle in describing this tension, and that might be a good thing. I liked that the difficulties experienced by the girls in the book were resolved relatively easily–and on the basketball court. While there was some teenage jealousy and subterfuge going on in the story, the author does a good job of writing about it in a tactful manner. In other words, it wasn't too terribly hyperbolic.

Some of the language and technical basketball lingo might need a little translation for some readers, but I think the author captures well the spirit of teenage jealousies and rivalries and has translated them into a readable story with genuine characters. Jazz is a complex character and offers many surprises throughout the story. There are times when she is likable and other times when she is difficult to figure, but I think young people reading the story will understand all to well the complexities of junior high social politics. And I think they will enjoy the story as I did.

4/5 stars

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