CM . . . .
Volume VII Number 11 . . . . February 2, 2001
"No such luck Indian boy, no thanks to you. I'm around to spread a little sunshine in your boring lives. In fact, I just moved back--I'm returning to good old Bragg Creek Elementary and Junior High next year." His eyes narrowed. "I can pick up right where we left off last year." His face darkened. "I also heard you have a team in the summer basketball league. I have a team too, and we're unstoppable. I'm going to enjoy grinding you into the hardwood.Virtue meets wickedness in the summer basketball league. It was supposed to be fun for Matthew "Point Guard" Eagletail-Thoreau and his new best friend John "Free Throw" Scanlon. Both were passionate about basketball, and Point Guard would lead the Bobcats on the court while Free Throw, who was confined to a wheelchair because of an accident, would be the coach. However, they had not planned on John Beal, who, playing the dirtiest, nastiest basketball known to man, meant to take his Mean Machine of goons to the title.
John Beal is merciless and corrupt, a racist, a sexist, a bully, a cheat, and a liar; he will do anything to win and is generally appalling. His team is the antithesis of the Bobcats, a team which is made up of First Nations persons, the physically impaired, girls, and uncoordinated astronomy geeks. Naturally, the teams meet in the championship game, and we all know which will prevail in the final battle of good versus evil. Ok, maybe it is just a little stereotypical.
What makes this book readable is the constant reminder that games and sports should be fun and all kids should have an opportunity to play and succeed. It is alright to try hard and want to be the best you can be, but not with a win-at-all-cost attitude. This little book has a positive message, which young people need to be taught and re-taught.
Ian Stewart is a regular contributor to CM and the book review pages of the Winnipeg Free Press. Sometimes he got picked last, but he's not bitter.
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