CM . . .
. Volume XVII Number 36. . . .May 20, 2011
Queen of the Court. (Sports Stories).
Michele Martin Bossley.
Toronto, ON: James Lorimer, 2011.
121 pp., pbk., $9.95.
Grades 7-9 / Ages 12-15.
Review by Christina Pike.
“Because how you look does matter. And it’s stupid to pretend that it doesn’t. You’re saying there’s more to me on my inside than other people see, but that makes me want to laugh. Do you think Mom would ever ask me to be one of her models? Have you ever asked to photograph me for one of your ad layouts? No! And why? Because I’m not pretty. Even worse, I’m ugly.”
“Kall, you’re not ugly.”
“Yes I am. And what’s more, if I didn’t wear the best outfits and do my hair real cool, I’d be one of the ugliest girls in my school.”
“Now you’re exaggerating.”
Why do parents always say that? “I am not.”
“And what’s inside does count. Even if other people can’t see it, you can.”
Tears prickled my eyelids. “I don’t want to talk about it any more.”
“Fine. But you are going to basketball practice tomorrow afternoon. I expect to hear all about it.”
I could only nod, my eyes tightly closed. I would have made a fuss, except I knew Dad was immovable, and I suddenly felt tired. I didn’t want to start another argument between Mom and Dad, either. So I nodded stiffly and drew my knees up to my chest.
Queen of the Court is a novel about 13-year-old Kallana Ohlmstead. In eighth grade, Kallana’s biggest worry has been what her next outfit will be. Not being one of the prettiest girls in her own eyes, Kallana uses fashion as her badge of honour, that is until things start to fall apart. The basketball coach, Ms. Wright, believes that Kallana, at five foot nine, can learn the game. Convincing Kallana is not as easy.
Queen of the Court is about finding oneself and determining what is important, and the title reinforces this prominent theme. The main character, like many her age, is fighting to fit in, to be queen. Unfortunately for Kallana, her coach and father see things differently, and they want Kallana to play for the team. As Kallana learns the rules of the game, she also begins to discover who she is and to challenge her own capabilities. The author uses the game of basketball as a springboard into much more deeper issues.
This novel is also about family relationship and friendships. As Kallana tests her own limits and ironically finds her comfort level in her own skin, her family is unraveling. Her friends also are wondering where the “real” Kallana is hiding.
Christina Pike is the principal of St. Paul’s Junior High in St. John’s, NL.
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