________________ CM . . . . Volume VII Number 12 . . . . February 16, 2001

cover Full Court Press.

Eric Walters.
Victoria, BC: Orca, 2000.
152 pp., pbk., $6.50.
ISBN 1-55143-169-6.

Subject Headings:
Basketball stories.
Teamwork (Sports)-Juvenile fiction.
Determination (Personality trait)-Juvenile fiction.
Friendship-Juvenile fiction.

Grades 2 - 5 / Ages 7 - 10.

Review by Ian Stewart.

* /4


I just don't know if I want to take responsibility if one of you gets hurt."

"But we have letters of permission from our parents, " I said, pulling the form out of my pocket.

"This piece of paper will protect me, but it won't protect you." Mr. Roberts said. "The other schools are going to take advantage of your size, or I guess lack of size. They're going to put somebody big on you to shove you around, intimidate you, create a mismatch...at least that's what I'd do."

Of course he was right. That's what any good coach would do.

"Is there any way I can talk you two out of this?" Mr. Roberts asked.

"Nope," Kia said decisively.

image Nick and Kia, the two most competitive grade three basketball players in the history of elementary sport, are determined to make Clark Boulevard School's grade five round-ball team. They have the skills to make the team, but will the coach and the players accept them? After all, it is the Grade Five team, and the best players in the school, including their friend Marcus, had always waited their turn before trying out. To make matters worse, Kia is a girl.

      Standing their ground against bigger and stronger kids isn't the most fearful obstacle Nick and Kia face. Making the squad doesn't change the feelings the other players have towards them; being a teammate doesn't always make someone want to be your friend, your buddy, or your pal. So how can they work together to be Clark All-Star winners, even if they can't conceivably beat Vista Heights in the big game?

      This all leads the reader into conventional sports' truisms that pass as virtue. All the players have to learn that being a team player means overcoming individual differences for the greater good. They must accept that there are winners and losers in games, and that a willingness to dig deep just might get them back into the finals again next year. The delicious irony for Nick and Kia is that next year they will only be in grade four; they get to be on the team for two more years.

      The book's morality tale is not totally offensive: however, it promotes the organized, competitive, destructiveness that drives many young children away from sport and recreational activity. Eric Walters needs to rethink his philosophy of elementary school physical education.

Not Recommended.

Ian Stewart is a regular contributor to CM and the book review pages of the Winnipeg Free Press.

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

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ISSN 1201-9364