________________ CM . . . . Volume XVII Number 38 . . . . June 3, 2011


Home Court Advantage. (Sports Stories).

Sandra Diersch.
Toronto, ON: James Lorimer, 2011.
141 pp., pbk., $9.95.
ISBN 978-1-55277-684-1.

Grades 5-8 / Ages 10-13.

Review by Deborah Mervold.

*** /4



“Well, Debbie, this is quite something for you. Aren’t you going to say anything?” Darlene asked.

“I think Debbie is a little overwhelmed.” Leanne said gently, smiling. “I’m going to leave you now, to think about all this. Angie and Greg would like to meet you as soon as it can be arranged. They’re quite excited.”

“Have they seen a picture of me?” Debbie finally managed to ask.

How could they possibly want her when there were tons of cute little girls who didn’t get into fights at school, who didn’t get suspended, who were interested in dresses and dances and music lessons? What if they met her and realized it had all been a horrible mistake? What if they met her and then changed their minds?

Home Court Advantage combines basketball, friendship and adoption. Debbie and her best friend, Jenna, love to play basketball. Their nemesis is Jamie who is always causing trouble for Debbie. Debbie has a temper and, in her view, is unfairly treated and is the one who is always sent to the principal’s office.

      Debbie lives with a foster family. Her social worker tells her that Angie and Greg, who don’t have children of their own, have seen her picture and want to adopt her. She goes to visit over several weekends and is worried that once they know her they will change their minds. Debbie is apprehensive about leaving her best friend and her team, but when she moves, she meets Paige who also likes basketball. Debbie often expects the worst of people and doesn’t think her new junior high class in Maple Ridge, BC, will like her. Debbie is excited to try out for basketball, and Greg, who coaches the high school boys’ team, gives her some pointers. She also becomes friends with Claudine, who comes from Taiwan. Debbie encounters Sarah who seems to dislike her and is saying that Debbie is a good player only because Greg is a coach. After Debbie makes the school basketball team, she is very excited. When Angie discovers that Debbie is not completing her homework, Debbie tries to say that school is not important. Her new parents work with her teacher, and Debbie has to show what work she has to do each day.

      One day at practice, another player, Nicole, shows everyone a stuffed zebra that she has received from her grandparents. When the zebra disappears and Claudine’s wallet is taken at another practice, Debbie feels that everyone suspects her. She finds it very difficult to trust others. When a key chain disappears and is found in Debbie’s bag, Sarah complains to the principal, saying that Debbie should be kicked off the team. Debbie thinks that this trouble will be enough for Angie and Greg to give her up. When they assure her that she is their daughter and they believe her and will work through any problems with her, Debbie starts to trust them. Debbie, Claudine and Paige decide to use a detective kit to trap the thief. It works, and Sarah is caught. However, it comes out that Sarah is a foster child, whose mother won’t let her be adopted, and Debbie recognizes her own anger in Sarah.

      The vocabulary used in Home Court Advantage is suitable for the intended age group. The plot is detailed in its coverage of basketball, friendship and fitting in with a family. Sandra Diersch does a credible job of exploring the character of Debbie as she struggles in school and in her personal journey. The problems are still there at the book’s end, but Debbie can rely on her new friends and family to help her. Each of the 14 chapters has up to about ten pages. Home Court Advantage would appeal to a wide variety of readers who like human interest stories, sport stories and realistic fiction. It would be a good choice for school, public and personal libraries.


Deborah Mervold is an educator and teacher-librarian from Shellbrook, SK. Presently employed by the Saskatchewan Institute of Applied Science and Technology (SIAST), she is working in the areas of faculty training and program development.

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

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