________________ CM . . . . Volume XI Number 3 . . . . October 1, 2004


Underdog. (Orca Young Readers).

Eric Walters.
Victoria, BC: Orca, 2004.
167 pp., pbk., $7.95.
ISBN 1-55143-302-8.

Subject Headings:
Basketball stories.
Teamwork (Sports)-Juvenile fiction.
Racism-Juvenile fiction.

Grades 2-5 / Ages 7-10.

Review by Georgie Perigny.

**** /4


"All I needed was time to make the right decision."

"Decision, what decision?" I asked. I didn't want him to make any decision.

"I'm quitting the team."

"You can't quit!" I exclaimed.

"Sure I can. Already decided. I'm not going back again."

"But you can't do that. You're a great player and the team needs you."

"Didn't you hear? The team doesn't need me because I'm not even part of the team."

"Of course you're part of the team!"

"No, I play me-ball not b-ball."

"He wasn't just saying that about you. Nobody was passing the ball."

"It doesn't matter. Haven't you figured it out? That coach wants me to quit. He doesn't want me on the team."

"Yes he does. If he didn't want you on the team, he wouldn't have picked you in the first place," I tried to explain.

"No, it's better for him if he picks me and then I quit. Then he can say it's my fault instead of the real reason," Ashton said.

"What do you mean, the real reason?" I asked.

"He's a racist."

"A racist! How can you say that?"

"Because he is. He's against me because I'm black."

"That's crazy!"


When Kia notices Aston sitting on a swing down the street from the basketball court, she decides to ask him if he would like to play two-on-two with her, Nick and Mark. Minutes after accepting the offer, Nick and Kia become aware of Ashton's great basketball skills and encourage him to try out for the Mississauga Magic rep team. There is only one problem. Although Ashton has some great basketball moves, he is not much of a team player. Impressing the coach with his skills, Ashton does make the team but begins to have doubts about playing for the rep team. Ashton feels that the coach is constantly picking on him and even goes as far as telling Nick that he thinks the coach is racist. What Ashton doesn't realize is that a great basketball player doesn't only have talent and skill but must play together with the other team members to achieve success as a team. In order to be a team player, Ashton will need to change his attitude and understand that the coach is only trying to help him reach his full potential as a basketball player and team member. Ashton must learn that being a team player consists of prevailing individual differences in more ways than one, and together Nick and Kia help him realize that he is an asset to the team. Together, these three Grade 5 students learn some tough lessons on and off the basketball court.

     Underdog is the seventh book in Eric Walters' popular basketball series for young readers. This title is not only about teamwork, friendship and determination but also it reflects on ethnic issues that may arise when individuals come together to share their diverse traits to form a heterogeneous team. This book consists of larger print for young readers and touches on life issues that young individuals may encounter. The language and pace of the book are appropriate for the intended audience. A free teacher's guide is available for teachers who choose to use this book in their classroom.

Highly Recommended.

Georgie Perigny is a Teacher's Assistant at Eckville Elementary School in Alberta and is currently obtaining her Bachelor of Education degree through the University of Alberta at Red Deer College.

To comment on this title or this review, send mail to cm@umanitoba.ca.

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