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Overview

One night while their mom’s at work, ten-year-old James and his six-year-old brother, Isaac, leave their house to meet the K-Bones, a group of guys who hang out and do cool stuff. James is ready to prove he’s cool enough to be in with them, but he soon learns that the K-Bones are not just an innocent club—they’re a gang that steals, tags freeway signs, and even plans to buy a gun. After a dangerous confrontation with a crew of older boys, James realizes that he’s put Isaac in danger, and knows that if he finds ...

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Overview

One night while their mom’s at work, ten-year-old James and his six-year-old brother, Isaac, leave their house to meet the K-Bones, a group of guys who hang out and do cool stuff. James is ready to prove he’s cool enough to be in with them, but he soon learns that the K-Bones are not just an innocent club—they’re a gang that steals, tags freeway signs, and even plans to buy a gun. After a dangerous confrontation with a crew of older boys, James realizes that he’s put Isaac in danger, and knows that if he finds the courage to walk away, Isaac will follow.

When ten-year-old James' gang initiation endangers his six-year-old brother Isaac, they find the courage to say, "Thanks, but no thanks."

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Editorial Reviews

Mailbox Magazine
James sets out to prove himself to the members of a gang. Even though he passes their frightening test with flying colors, it's not until James decides against joining the anger that he truly shows courage....This boldly illustrated picture book sets the stage for thought-provoking discussions with older students about peer press
Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
Bunting, in a markedly different approach from her The Day the Whale Came reviewed above, collaborates with Ransome The Creation on a gripping picture book told through the first-person narrative of a boy who nearly joins a gang. One evening, while their mother works at her waitressing job, 10-year-old James takes his six-year-old brother, Isaac, along to meet up with the K-Bones, a gang to which James yearns to belong. As his initiation rite, James must spray-paint the K-Bones name over that of a rival gang, the Snakes, on a freeway sign " `Cool,' I say, but I'm more nervous than ever". James does the deed, but learns that the gang also steals for fun, and begins to have doubts about joining. Then, on their way back, they run into the Snakes, who fire a gun. No one gets hurt, but the next night, when James and Isaac are offered membership to the K-Bones, they refuse. Though the ending is a bit facile, Bunting skillfully contrasts James's cool veneer with his inner turmoil, creating a story that will likely resonate with children who have felt pulled against their own conscience. Ransome's full-bleed oil paintings convey the tension and looming danger of the boys' misadventure. His illustrations effectively put readers in James's shoes: in the most dramatic, the K-Bones gang stares out from the page against a swirling gold background as the leader extends the can of spray paint to readers themselves. Ages 6-10. Apr.
Children's Literature - Shalini Murthy
Eve Bunting does it again! The author of Smoky Night and Dandelions has the wonderful ability to create three-dimensional characters even within the length constraints of a picture book format. Ten year old James badly wants to join the gang K-Bones. To join the group however, James has to "prove himself." The gang initiation act endangers the life of James' six-year-old brother Issac. When this happens, the two boys have the courage to say "thanks, but no thanks" to the gang members. This story deals with the issue of peer pressure, in a thoughtful and sensitive manner. The book can help children understand that its OK to say "no" to something they know is wrong. James Ransome's beautiful illustrations in oil have the quality of priceless art and capture every nuance of this wonderful book.
School Library Journal
Gr 1-5A somewhat idealized, but powerful picture book about how a good kid avoids gang involvement. James, 10, and his 6-year-old brother Isaac are alone at night while their single mother works. A neighbor keeps an ear out for James's hourly thumps on her wall assuring her that they are okay. One night James leaves their apartment with Isaac to meet up with the K-Bones crew. To prove himself, he must spray paint a freeway sign with the club's name, thus covering a rival gang's tag. He is frightened but climbs the pole to the sign, high over traffic. Successful, the boys leave the scene, but their elation quickly evaporates when the rival gang challenges themwith a gun. Running away, Isaac falls and is hurt. When they get home their mother is there, called by the worried neighbor. The next night the K-Bones leader comes by to tell James he's in, and Isaac is, too. They both decline the invitation. Bunting's vignette is lent power by Ransome's strong, realistic oil paintings. The text, simple and direct, lets the message come through without preachiness. However, is it realistic for the gang leader to give up on his recruits and for the kids to be able to resist the temptations offered by gang membership? Perhaps the problem isn't this easily solved in real life, but it is good to see a positive view of boys who take control of their lives when danger appears.Anne Connor, Los Angeles Public Library
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780152001810
  • Publisher: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt
  • Publication date: 3/28/1998
  • Format: Library Binding
  • Pages: 32
  • Sales rank: 296,909
  • Age range: 6 - 12 Years
  • Lexile: 230L (what's this?)
  • Product dimensions: 9.59 (w) x 8.82 (h) x 0.39 (d)

Meet the Author

EVE BUNTING has written over two hundred books for children, including the Caldecott Medal-winning Smoky Night, illustrated by David Diaz. She lives in Southern California.

James Ransome has illustrated more than 35 books for children, including many award winners. He lives in Rhinebeck, New York, with his wife, children's book author Lesa Cline Ransome, and their four children. Visit his website at www.jamesransome.com.

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