“Hicks has an ear for the dialogue of middle schoolers, and a good feel for the sometimes rocky relationships between parents and early adolescents. Soccer fans will appreciate the exciting game action as well as the true-to-life interactions among the team members. A winning combination of sports and humor with a subtle message about personal responsibility.”—School Library Journal
“The zing in this story comes from the well-drawn, believable characters. Hicks also provides plenty of accurately described soccer action and some funny lines.”—Booklist
“Hicks’s electric descriptions of soccer play will score extra points with fans of the sport. This tale entertains while delivering a thought-provoking message about parent-child communication and peer relationships.”—Publishers Weekly
As Hicks's (I Smell Like Ham) spry story opens, 12-year-old Stuart is grounded yet again by Jamie, his over-protective single mother. The woman, according to her frustrated son, "presto-chango, sometime after his twelfth birthday, when he hadn't been paying attention [had] turned into a fire-breathing, spying, interfering, cold-blooded dragon." When he breaks another rule by accepting a ride in the car of his friend's older brother, Jamie does what the boy considers unthinkable: decides he must temporarily quit his beloved soccer team. Stuart tells his best friend, a sage, endearingly eccentric girl named Mack, that it's time to implement her plan to find a beau for Stuart's mother, which will ideally distract her enough so that she'll ease up on her son. With intermittently comical and poignant results, the plan backfires miserably. Mack's idea of introducing Jamie to her uncle leads to a falling out between her and Stuart, and the boy's idea of having his mom date his soccer coach alienates him from his teammates. The novel's characters-both young and old-come across as impressively convincing, as do the dialogue among them and their relationships with each other. Hicks's electric descriptions of soccer play will score extra points with fans of the sport. This tale entertains while delivering a thought-provoking message about parent-child communication and peer relationships. Ages 8-12. (Sept.) Copyright 2004 Reed Business Information.
Every time he turns around, Stuart is being busted by his mom for breaking one of her rules. He has been grounded and had his phone and Internet privileges revoked. When Stuart gets in trouble again, his mom can only think of one thing to take away: soccer. Stuart's friend Mack insists he needs to find a boyfriend for his mom. That way, Stuart's mom will have less time to focus on the little things he does wrong. Mack thinks her Uncle Joe would be a perfect boyfriend, but Stuart has a better idea: his soccer coach. However, things don't turn out as Stuart expects with his mom. As Stuart gets deeper and deeper in trouble, he begins to turn on Mack, endangering their friendship. Stuart's problems are both amusing and realistic. All the characters, children and grown-ups alike, are vivid and sympathetic. Hicks really captures a child's frustration at being punished for minor infractions when their peers are committing much more serious violations. 2004, Roaring Brook Press, Ages 8 up.
Amie Rose Rotruck
Gr 5-7-Stuart, 12, could make the Guinness Book of World Records for most-busted kid in middle school. His mom has an endless series of rules, and he can't seem to get away with anything. He's already grounded, and he's lost phone, computer, and video-game privileges. All that's left is soccer; when Mom threatens to make him quit the team, he decides to take action. Figuring that she'll have less time to obsess about him if she has a boyfriend, he plans to set her up with his soccer coach, but his scheme has unanticipated consequences both on and off the field. Hicks has an ear for the dialogue of middle schoolers, and a good feel for the sometimes rocky relationships between parents and early adolescents. Soccer fans will appreciate the exciting game action as well as the true-to-life interactions among the team members. A winning combination of sports and humor with a subtle message about personal responsibility.-Elaine E. Knight, Lincoln Elementary Schools, IL Copyright 2004 Reed Business Information.
A slightly naive, but very sympathetic young hero finds himself trapped in a hilarious nightmare of being "busted." Twelve-year-old Stuart Ellis loves playing soccer for the Oak Park Warriors and working on his dragon Web site. But the only dragon in Stuart's life is his overly protective widowed mother, who seems obsessed with "making rules and catching him breaking them." Busted for the third time in three weeks, Stuart is grounded, computer privileges revoked, and video games put off-limits. As his social life evaporates, Stuart frantically consults his savvy best girl-pal Mack, who suggests his mother needs the distraction of a boyfriend. When his mother threatens to take away soccer, a desperate Stuart attempts a bit of misguided match-making between her and his soccer coach and ends up nearly alienating everyone he cares about, including Mack and the entire soccer team. Brimming with soccer scenes and humor, this modern family story rings true. (Fiction. 8-12)