CM . . .
. Volume IX
Number 5 . . . . November 1, 2002
In book #5 of the basketball stories written by Eric Walters and which feature Nick and Kia, they and their teammates travel from Mississauaga, Ontario, to an elite basketball tournament in the American Midwest. Coach Barkley, who played college ball in the area and is still regarded as a local hero, expects the best performance from his team and is very firm. While feeling a little overwhelmed by the competing teams from around the world, the players still manage to have a good time. When Kia turns out to be the only girl in the tournament, some questions of the team's eligibility are raised. A local journalist sees a fascinating story unfolding and is determined to keep track of developments. The problem is resolved when the two best teams agree that they want the opportunity to compete with the top teams, regardless of the gender of the players.
Walters captures humourous situations very well, as demonstrated in the above excerpt. The dialogue is witty and adds to the delight of the story. The reading level is classified as grades 2-5, and the interest level continues into grade 7 because of the humour and identification with sports teams. The plot develops slowly at first as the team becomes frustrated with the long car drive but speeds up as firstly the team wants a little independence and fun not sanctioned by the coach and then later when they learn of their potential disqualification. While the characters are one dimensional, they are very consistent and likeable as the story explores the dynamics of family and team relationships. This story is a good read-aloud for younger grades when teachers are looking for something amusing and light, and Road Trip will be enjoyed by the sports enthusiasts among the older readership.
Meredith MacKeen is a teacher-librarian at Glen Stewart Elementary School in Stratford, P.E.I.
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