Sister Slam and the Poetic Motormouth Road Trip

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Overview

I was smitten,

bitten by a love bug or something.

I didn't even care that I'd just been hit.

I was in deep smit.

Laura Crapper, a seventeen-year-old combat-boot-wearing poet with spiked red hair, renames herself Sister Slam and hits the road with her best friend, Twig. On the way to a slam poetry contest in New Jersey, they hit a pig, get pulled over by the cops, fight with ...

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Sister Slam and the Poetic Motormouth Road Trip

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Overview

I was smitten,

bitten by a love bug or something.

I didn't even care that I'd just been hit.

I was in deep smit.

Laura Crapper, a seventeen-year-old combat-boot-wearing poet with spiked red hair, renames herself Sister Slam and hits the road with her best friend, Twig. On the way to a slam poetry contest in New Jersey, they hit a pig, get pulled over by the cops, fight with one of the judges, lose the contest, get into two more fender benders, fight with each other, and finally land on the front page of a New York City newspaper for their amazing impromptu performance at the famous Tavern on the Green. The girls and their fresh style of poetry take the city by storm, but when Laura's father back in Pennsylvania has a heart attack, she must face her fears about home and the still-raw loss of her mother. This inspiring romp of a coming-of-age story, written entirely in Laura's in-your-face slam poetry style, proves you don't have to give up your home to live your dream.

In this novel told in slam verse, best friends and aspiring poets Laura and Twig embark on a road trip after graduating from high school, from Pennsylvania to New York City, to compete at slam poetry events.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
This ultra-hip Cinderella tale, written entirely in verse, introduces an unconventional, memorable heroine: overweight ("way past chunky/ In fact I was downright/ clown-white fat") Laura Rose Crapper, who dreams of becoming a famous poet. The 18-year-old is ready for a change after enduring four years of high school as a misfit ("My lame-brained name/ was my main claim to fame/ at Banesville High School,/ where I wasn't exactly in/ the cool group," she laments). In June, she changes her name to Sister Slam, and she and her best friend and fellow rapper Twig head out to show off their talents and, at the same time, attend "the so-cool/ School of Real Life." On their way to a slam poetry contest in Tin Can, N.J., the girls hit a pig with their car (it survives), get ticketed by the police and make enemies with a man who turns out to be one of the contest's judges. Ironically, the final disaster-getting in an accident that totals Laura's "old clunker car"-proves to be a fortuitous event, practically throwing Laura into the arms of a young man who turns out to be both her Prince Charming and Fairy Godmother. High (Barn Savers; Under New York) creates events and people bigger than life, yet readers will find some very genuine emotions hidden beneath Laura's loud, cynical front. Her transformation from outcast to superstar, lyrically captured through snappy rhymes, is satisfying as well as hilarious. Ages 12-up. (Apr.) Copyright 2004 Reed Business Information.
From The Critics
With her sorrow over the death of her mother, her anguish over her oversized chest, and her scars from the mocking words of high schoolers, Laura Crapper is less than stable. She is downright frustrated with life and ready to escape into the big, uncharted world, away from all the suffering of her small-town life. So taking on the name "Sister Slam," Laura and her best friend, Twig, pack up the Firebird, say goodbye to their cruel childhood world, and head off—for the first road trip of their lives—to participate in the Tin-Can Poetry Slam. But, on the way, the rhymin' sisters learn that real life is just as hard as high school and that adults can be just as cruel as kids. The girls take on the world, rapping their way through a speeding ticket, a smashed pig, and a few car crashes. Then, like a glittery dream, Sister Slam and Twig find themselves living the high life as the stars of slam poetry shows all over New York. And, best of all, a sweet, hot, guitar-strumming guy shows interest in Laura. But when a call comes from home that tragedy has struck, the girls rush back to their hometown, leaving their new, exciting life behind. Sister Slam and the Poetic Motormouth Road Trip is an exhilarating, angst-ridden voyage through the world of slam poetry and the trials and thrills of growing up. 2004, Bloomsbury Children's Books, 200 pp. Ages young adult. Reviewer: Lindsay Heyen
Children's Literature
Sister Slam is a grooving story about two teenagers who take a road trip that changes their lives. Laura and Twig have been best friends since second grade, and they both consider themselves great poets. Laura gets some spam about a poetry slam in Tin Can, New Jersey, and decides that after she graduates, she is going to travel around the country doing poetry slams, starting with the one in Tin Can. She changes her name to Sister Slam and invites Twig to join her. The day after graduation, they embark on a journey they will never forget. Teenage girls will be able to relate to this novel because freedom, love, and friendship are all major parts of the story. Both girls break free of the trials of high school and living at home with their parents. Twig, who has low self-esteem, falls in love with a rich kid, and their friendship is tested when Laura puts Twig out on the side of the highway. Oatman divides her story into lessons instead of chapters because each section conveys a lesson to be learned. For example, Lesson 9 is titled "Always Check the Gas Tank Before Leaving." Readers soon find out that revving the engine and then pulling off is not always a good idea when you only have a little bit of gas left in the tank. These so-called lessons make the book funny. It is an easy read because it is written like one long poem that flows on until the final lesson. I highly recommend this book for readers who are ready for an adventure. 2004, Bloomsbury Children's Books, Ages 14 to 18.
—Cartillia Reid
School Library Journal
Gr 8 Up-A powerful main character and great premise are nearly defeated by the form of this novel in slam-verse. Just graduated from high school in nowheresville, Laura Crapper changes her name to Sister Slam and takes off with her friend Twig on a road trip to a poetry slam in Tin Can, NJ. A very lame experience there drives them on to New York City, where Sister Slam is certain they'll be appreciated. And they are: a car wreck with a cute rich guy on the Jersey Turnpike lands them an invitation to stay with his family at the Waldorf. A subsequent dinner performance at Tavern on the Green, overheard by an editor from the Village Voice, sets them on the fast track to fame and love. All this is told by Sister Slam in her inimitable voice. As they drive in to New York City: "It was a smorgasbord/of humanity/and profanity/slipped from my lips.//"Holy shit!/I never saw so/many different/races in the/same place!" This voice, sadly, wears thin, as the energy and freshness can't be sustained through the plot, characterization, and dialogue that a novel requires. Much of the dialogue comes off awkwardly, as everybody else sounds just like Sister Slam, and the verse in the slower sections turns bland. The fairy tale of a story teeters wildly over the edge of credibility-Francesca Lia Block fans might bring the right willingness with them, but they won't find the magic to carry them along. All that said, the character of Sister Slam-big, brash, naive, and completely winning-will stay with readers long after they've breezed their way through her galumphing and spotty story.-Nina Lindsay, Oakland Public Library, CA Copyright 2004 Reed Business Information.
Kirkus Reviews
Plot summary alone cannot convey the awfulness of the poetry in this over-the-top melodrama. High-school graduate Laura Crapper changes her name to Sister Slam and heads out on a road trip in search of poetry slams with her friend Twig. Assured by their mutual admiration that their poetry will rock the world, the two arrive at the slam after a few inevitable mishaps due to a lack of preparation and no understanding of reality. Sister Slam insults the judge, whom they have coincidentally met in a gas station, and they lose, remaining fully convinced of their language abilities. They total their car, leaving them in the hands of rich, good-looking Jake, who invites them to the Waldorf-Astoria in New York. Naturally, this turns out peachy keen and the press is soon singing their praises after an impromptu reading in Tavern on the Green. Gauche and jabbing each other, the two soon have jobs and an apartment, but race home to dear old dad when they hear of his stroke. While the simplistic rhyming works, occasionally, the leaden cliche-ridden lines mostly clink and clank along. So bad it's almost campy. (Fiction. YA)
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781582349480
  • Publisher: Bloomsbury USA
  • Publication date: 4/7/2004
  • Pages: 250
  • Age range: 12 - 17 Years
  • Product dimensions: 5.30 (w) x 8.08 (h) x 1.05 (d)

Meet the Author

Linda Oatman High is an award-winning author of many books for children and young adults. Her book Barn Savers was an ALA Top of the List Best Picture Book, and Under New York was named a Bulletin of the Center for Children's Books Blue Ribbon Book and a Nick Jr. Best Book of the Year. She frequently offers writing workshops and enjoys visiting schools. Linda lives with her family in Pennsylvania.

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Sort by: Showing 1 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted June 10, 2004

    Great...for about two pages

    The wacky, edgy character, unique voice and hip slam-poetry format will draw you in, but it won't keep you there. The poetry is bad - the author tried WAY too hard - and quickly wears thin. The plot is contrived, predictable, unrealistic. While the book certainly has its moments and a few of the poems are really, really good, this is not a book I could recommend to anyone.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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