Alex and the Wednesday Chess Club

( 1 )


Alex first learned to play chess when he was four years old. He loved it. He loved the pieces, the challenge, and the sweet taste that winning left in his mouth. He loved it until he played a chess game with moldy old Uncle Hooya...and lost. Then Alex decided to give up chess for good.
Now in third grade Alex wants to give chess another try. He joins the chess club and discovers that chess is fun again. He plays his friends, he listens to the coach, and he practices at school, ...

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Alex first learned to play chess when he was four years old. He loved it. He loved the pieces, the challenge, and the sweet taste that winning left in his mouth. He loved it until he played a chess game with moldy old Uncle Hooya...and lost. Then Alex decided to give up chess for good.
Now in third grade Alex wants to give chess another try. He joins the chess club and discovers that chess is fun again. He plays his friends, he listens to the coach, and he practices at school, at home, and on the computer. Alex is a chess maniac! All of this practice is leading up to the big tournament, where Alex finds himself face-to-face with Little Cousin Hooya. Memories of his earlier defeat return, but now is his chance to finally beat a Hooya. Is Alex up to the challenge?
Janet Wong's lyrical text, complemented by Stacey Schuett's bright illustrations, will inspire chess players of all ages to practice, practice, practice — and to avoid moldy old Uncle Hooya!

Alex quits playing chess after losing a game to Uncle Hooya; but when other activities fail to satisfy him, he gives his favorite game another try by joining the chess club.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
Michelle Anderson Executive Director, America's Foundation for Chess Wong takes a game perceived as something only the brainy kids would want to play and brings it to life — so much so that kids and adults alike will read her book and be left wanting more. More chess, more time to think through a problem, more problems to solve, and definitely more Wong. Put a copy in every classroom!

Elena Akhmilovskaya Donaldson Women's Grandmaster, three-time U.S. Women's Chess Champion and two-time Olympic Chess Champion This book will inspire kids and parents to learn and play chess.

Children's Literature
Alex plays chess at the age of 4 and loves it, "so who knows why his mother/made him play his next-door neighbor's/moldy old Uncle Hooya." Who knows, indeed? That is the first question to go unanswered. But play Uncle Hooya he does, and loses, and quits the game until 3rd grade. In 3rd grade Alex joins the chess club, and Coach B. writes his "Top 10 Chess Tips" on the board, #10 being: Don't Play Moldy Old Uncle Hooya! How does Coach B. know about Uncle Hooya? Another question that distracts from Alex's story. Alex enjoys chess club, although he loses consistently. What is different about losing for Alex now? The reader is not told, and Alex goes on to participate in a chess tournament, where the importance of cheese puffs is distracting, and never explained. The tournament ends with Alex defeating Little Hooya, Uncle's cousin, but why is the outcome important if the reader does not understand the significance of Uncle Hooya? He seems to be just a vehicle for the book's final line, Alex's triumphant, "Hoo Ya!" This book is written in verse, divided into 8 short chapters, and could have included more about chess and Alex's relationship to the game, and less about Uncle Hooya and cheese puffs. 2004, Margaret K. McElderry Books/Simon & Schuster, Ages 7 to 11.
—Mary Loftus
School Library Journal
Gr 1-4-When he was four, Alex learned to play chess on a board his mother created out of squares of light and dark bread with chocolates, olives, and other food items as the pieces. Unfortunately, he lost interest in the game after a crushing defeat to his neighbor's relative. "If Alex was hungry to win, Uncle Hooya was starving." Although his mother urged him to join the school chess club, the boy resisted, taking up other hobbies until third grade. One day, after a particularly rough game of football, he decides to give chess another chance, joining the other children in the library to play countless rounds and complete chess puzzles every Wednesday. Alex's love of the game is revived, and he becomes a "chess maniac." The story, which is broken down into eight short chapters, culminates in a suspenseful tournament in which Alex is matched against Uncle Hooya's nephew. In addition to addressing important issues like self-esteem, winning and losing with grace, and developing friendships, this story highlights the excitement and challenge of the strategic board game. Large, lively, and expressive gouache-and-ink illustrations capture the personalities of the characters and add to the book's appeal. The book might inspire youngsters to check out a beginner's manual, like Michael Basman's Chess for Kids (DK, 2001). An imaginative and entertaining title.-Linda L. Walkins, Mount Saint Joseph Academy, Brighton, MA Copyright 2004 Reed Business Information.
Kirkus Reviews
Smitten by chess in kindergarten, Alex is enthusiastic but not a prodigy, so when he runs up against "moldy old Uncle Hooya" and gets his clock cleaned, he doesn't give a second thought to turning his attention to other pursuits all the way to third grade, where football results in enough turf-eating for him to reconsider chess. By now his confreres are savvy players; clock-cleaning becomes Alex's lot, except for a few players who are obviously there for the fun-exemplars. Alex hangs in at tournament time, experiencing a flow-state moment when the pieces talk to him: Go ahead, they say, be reckless and enjoy yourself. This is about fun. A distraction allows him to smoke Uncle Hooya's nephew, but by now Alex knows there is more to the world than the chessboard. Wong's terrific telling (full of humor and clever asides) offers a fine example of enjoying chess in the non-obsessive mode-gads, there are always sports and pizza to attend to-set against the rich colors and interesting perspectives of Schuett's art. Back matter includes some universal hints to guide all those Alex's out there. (Picture book. 4-8)
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780689858901
  • Publisher: Margaret K. McElderry Books
  • Publication date: 8/24/2004
  • Pages: 40
  • Sales rank: 577,948
  • Age range: 4 - 8 Years
  • Product dimensions: 9.40 (w) x 9.20 (h) x 0.40 (d)

Meet the Author

Janet S. Wong is the author of more than a dozen picture books and poetry collections. Her work includes Night Garden: Poems from the World of Dreams, a New York Times Best Illustrated Book, and Knock on Wood: Poems About Superstitions, both illustrated by Julie Paschkis, as well as Grump, a Charlotte Zolotow Award Highly Commended Book, illustrated by John Wallace. Janet lives with her family in Medina, Washington.

Stacey Schuett has illustrated numerous books for children, including America Louise Borden, Night Lights by Steven Schnur, and Purple Mountain Majesties by Barbara Younger. She lives in Sebastopol, California.

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Customer Reviews

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Sort by: Showing 1 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted September 18, 2008

    Nice chess story for kids!

    Here we have a unique book in ches literature! It will help inspire younger children to love chess by providing a fun story about a young boy who is at first discouraged, but then takes up chess at a higher level and loves it! Not an instruction book, but a great little story.

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