The earliest memory I have of a “chapter book” is one called Powerhouse Five. I think I may have read it in 5th or 6th grade. It feels like yesterday. In fact, I can picture the grade-school bookshelf with all of the basketball books. All I can recall about the book was that it had a basketball player named Studs Magruder. At least I think it did. Well, I’m going to find out because I just ordered it from Abe Books.
I was inspired to find this book from my childhood because of The Hoopster; a solid piece of teen fiction written by California’s 2003 Teacher of the Year. The Hoopster is about Andre, a basketball junkie and budding teenage writer with a summer internship at a local magazine. He gets a chance to get published if he can write an article about race with a fresh take. He does so and gets front page billing, but some thugs from the PPA (fictional organization, stands for People for a Pure America) don’t like it and beat him up.
The book has a few good lessons in race relations. Andre is black, his best friend is white, and his girlfriend is Latino, so Sitomer sets out to prove that we can all get along. Along the way he exposes some of the nastiness in race relations.
This is an excellent book for any teenager. It’s funny, has plenty of dialogue, includes a lot of interesting characters, and sends plenty of good messages along the way.