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Kim Tomsic

Saturday, April 30, 2011

How Lamar's Bad Prank won the NEWBERY a book review by Kim Tomsic

Middle schooler, Lamar, is an Indiana boy trying to convince the Hoosier-cult community that bowling is better than basketball. But he's also trying to achieve a lot more...

Synopsis"Thirteen-year-old Lamar Washington is the maddest, baddest, most spectacular bowler at Striker's Bowling Paradise. But while Lamar's a whiz at rolling strikes, he always strikes out with girls. And his brother, Xavier the Basketball Savior, is no help. Xavier earns trophy after trophy on the basketball court and soaks up Dad's attention, leaving no room for Lamar's problems.

Until bad boy Billy Jenks convinces Lamar that hustling at the alley will help him win his dream girl, plus earn him enough money to buy an expensive pro ball and impress celebrity bowler Bubba Sanders. But when Billy's scheme goes awry, Lamar ends up ruining his brother's shot at college and every relationship in his life. Can Lamar figure out how to mend his broken ties, no matter what the cost?

From debut author Crystal Allen comes an unforgettable story of one boy's struggle to win his family's respect and get the girl of his dreams while playing the sport he loves."

Author Crystal Allen definitely handled her business and  HOW LAMAR'S BAD PRANK WON A BUBBA-SIZED TROPHY seems like a no-brainer for the Newbery (ALA's top award for children's literature). This middle grade novel is laugh-out-loud funny, full of heart and drama,  and packed with voice, v o I C E, VOICE. I can picture writing coaches using Crystal Allen's style as an example of snappy writing, because she is outrageously clever and the master of  many creative elements, like a  Spunk and Bite How-To. The zippy language of Allen's debut book will entertain you on the level of Savvy (a previous Newbery winner) while tugging the same emotional cords as When You Reach Me (oh, what?...another Newbery winner).

PREDICTIONS: Not only do I predict a Newbery nod (as well as a Sid Fleishman Award), but I also predict a blockbuster movie. Lamar has the flavor of Chris Rock's Everybody hates Chris and will win the same audience as Wimpy Kid.  Anyone who reads Lamar's tale and actually claims they don't love it must be drinking  "Haterade." Why? Because How Lamar's Bad Prank Won a Bubba-Sized Trophy is "shut-yo' mouth" good.

5 out of 5 lollipop rating
It's "shut-yo' mouth" good!
How Lamar's Bad Prank Won a Bubba Sized Trophy (Balzer and Bray February, 2011) by Crystal Allen $16.99 ISBN-13: 9780061992728 and ISBN: 0061992720
Purchasing Links:
Barnes and Noble
Tattered Cover
Indie Bound
Boulder Book Store


The Hook: 
"Heidi has the perfect solution to her popularity problems - a fake boyfriend. She's even made him an Internet profile that makes him look like a motorcycle-riding, poetry reading bad boy. *swoon* Heidi's friends are so impressed they start emailing Heidi's fake boyfriend with their problems . . . including their problems with Heidi."

MY INVISIBLE BOYFRIEND by Susie Day is a YA reader's must-have. It's packed with a fun hook and creative writing. Susie Day has an M.T. Anderson-ish style (not Octavia Nothing-ish, more Feed) and brings additional writer's spice to the table. Day blends imaginative elements  such as bizarre recipes, imaginary friends, enigmatic characters, and an element of mystery to create a perfect recipe of plot and drama. YA readers will love this book. 

3.75 out of 5 lollipop rating
My Invisible Boyfriend (Scholastic Press April 1, 2010) by Susie Day earns a 3.75 out of 5 lollipop rating.
ISBN-10: 9780545073547

ISBN-13: 978-0545073547

Available at list price of $16.99 from many Indie providers (i.e. Tattered Cover, Boulder Books) or from Amazon.

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

BOOK REVIEW: Playing Hurt

Playing Hurt by Holly Schindler will be this summer's YA go-to romance novel.

When broken basketball star, Chelsea, is forced into a Minnesota Lakes boot camp, she discovers her trainer, Clint, has some wounds of his own. The story is packed with enough heat and tension to ignite the hormones, but can greater healing come about? Author Holly Schindler answers this question in her spicy YA novel,  Playing Hurt (Flux, March 2011).  Playing Hurt is not for the feint of heart reader, meaning it's not for the tween/teen just leaving their middle grade reader in search of a juicier read. It's an older YA novel that promises sexual tension.

Schindler has a smooth writing style and can turn a phrase in a clever way. Although I would have preferred that the author use only half the metaphors and similes, I couldn't help but love when I read certain hyperboles like, [we were] "so close our eye lashes almost tangled." Schindler did a fantastic job revving up tension. The summer romance between Chelsea and Clint is so steamy that Playing Hurt could easily become this decade's version of Dirty Dancing.

ISBN-10: 9780738722870

ISBN-13: 978-0738722870

Playing Hurt, Flux (March 2011) Available for $9.99 through independent book sellers, Barnes & Noble, Amazon

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