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4.1 71
by Walter Dean Myers

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The Scorpions are a gun-toting Harlem gang, and Jamal Hicks is about to become tragically involved with them in this authentic tale of the sacrifice of innocence and the struggle to steer clear of violence.

This Newbery Honor Book will challenge young men to consider their own decisions as they come of age in a complex and often frustrating society.

Pushed by a


The Scorpions are a gun-toting Harlem gang, and Jamal Hicks is about to become tragically involved with them in this authentic tale of the sacrifice of innocence and the struggle to steer clear of violence.

This Newbery Honor Book will challenge young men to consider their own decisions as they come of age in a complex and often frustrating society.

Pushed by a bully to fight and nagged by his principal, Jamal is having a difficult time staying in school. His home life is not much better, with his mother working her fingers to the bone to try to earn the money for an appeal for Jamal's jailed older brother, Randy.

Jamal wants to do the right thing and help earn the money to free his brother by working, but he's afraid to go against the Scorpions. Jamal eventually pulls free of the gang's bad influence, but only through the narrowest of escapes.

Walter Dean Myers, five-time winner of the Coretta Scott King Award, sensitively explores the loyalty and love between friends faced with hard choices. Scorpions is 25 years old, but the issues of poverty and violence make it a timeless powerful read—sadly as relevant as ever.

This special twenty-fifth anniversary edition contains the original Scorpions novel, plus an extra Q&A with New York Times bestselling author Walter Dean Myers—including questions about juvenile detention facilities, gang life today, and friendship.

Also included are a sneak peek at Kick, by Walter Dean Myers and Ross Workman, and an excerpt from Myers's New York Times bestselling novel Monster.

Editorial Reviews

1989 Newbery Award Committee
A book honored for its honesty, realism, and vitality.
(— SLJ.
Once more, readers have Myers to thank for giving them a greater understanding of the difficulty of life in today's inner city.
Children's Literature - Susie Wilde
This Newbery-honor book tells of the predicaments and moral crises encountered by twelve-year-old Jamal. His tenuous home and hood life brings into play choices about joining a gang and using a gun, whilw struggling to fight the tensions of inner city life and to be seen for who he really is. 1996 (orig.
School Library Journal
Jamal, who is pressured to become leader of the Scorpions gang, worries about school, family, and the rough kids on the street. When a fellow gang member gives him a gun, Jamal suddenly gains a new level of respect from his enemies. A realistic look at a boy who wants to do the right thing but gets caught up in the culture of violence. A Newbery Honor selection. Copyright 2000 Cahners Business Information.

Product Details

HarperCollins Publishers
Publication date:
Edition description:
Sales rank:
Product dimensions:
4.18(w) x 7.00(h) x 0.44(d)
Age Range:
12 - 17 Years

Read an Excerpt


Chapter One

"You see anything?"


"Why don't you go down to the subway?"

"Suppose she come on the bus or take a taxi?"

"She ain't got the money for no taxi."

"She could still take the bus."

Jamal sat in the window and looked down the street. It had rained earlier, and he wondered if his mother had taken an umbrella.

"I'm hungry," Sassy said.

"You ate." Jamal answered his little sister without looking at her.

"You want to watch television?"

"You the one who always want to watch it," Jamal said.

"I just asked," Sassy said. "You worried?"

"Ain't nothing to be worried about."

"Then how come you sitting at the window ever since six o'clock?"

"How come you ask so many questions?"

"I'm gonna tell Mama you being nasty to me."

"Tell her."

"I'm gonna tell her you said that, too."

"I don't care."

"I'm putting the television on," Sassy said.

Jamal glanced at the clock on the wall. It was almost ten thirty. He started to ask Sassy if she had finished her homework, then changed his mind. He looked down into the street again.

At the corner a thin man leaned against the light pole. Jamal watched as the man leaned slowly toward the ground, then straightened up. Jamal knew that the addict would repeat his nodding until he fell asleep. He looked away.

Sassy was watching some stupid program. The television was okay, even if the programs were Stupid. When he got a job, he was going to buy one of those recording machines. Then he and Mama could go and get movies and watch them instead of all the stupid stuff they had on regulartelevision.

He thought about how he would tell Mama he had the money for the recording machine. Maybe he wouldn't even tell her--just go out and buy it for her and bring it on in the house.

Sassy fell asleep on the couch at eleven o'clock.

He moved away from the window and sat next to his sister. Mama would say that he should wake her and tell her to go to bed, but he didn't want to sit by himself.

Somebody had a radio on. Probably Snookie. Snookie always played his radio too loud. Jamal had told Snookie about his loud playing, and he asked Jamal what he needed a radio for if he had to play it so soft he couldn't hear it. Jamal figured a dead person could hear it the way Snookie played it.

Jamal was a little hungry. He had made some potatoes and chicken, but there wasn't too much of it. Sassy had eaten one piece of chicken, and he had had one piece. Sassy said she wanted two pieces because she wasn't going to eat any potatoes, but she knew better. They had to save something for Mama. If he had got the rice from Mr. Evans, he could have made the chicken and rice Mama liked a lot.

It was almost twelve o'clock when Mama got home. Jamal was in the bathroom when he heard the key in the door. He came out as quickly as he could. He saw that Mama had awakened Sassy and taken her into the bedroom.

"How come you didn't tell Sassy to go to bed?" Mama said.

"She wanted to watch television."

"She eat?"


"What she eat?"

"That chicken from Sunday and some potatoes. We saved you some."

Mama went into the kitchen and looked at the food on the stove. She saw that Jamal had cut the potatoes into small squares and put some snap beans in with them.

"Where you get them snap beans?"

"They was in that plastic bowl in the back of the refrigerator," Jamal said.

"You get the mail?"

"Forgot," Jamal said. "You want me to go downstairs and get it?"

"No, I'm too tired to even read it," Mama said. She sat on the wooden chair, crossed one heavy leg over the other, and started to take her shoes off. Jamal liked the way Mama had looked before she had let her hair grow out. To him she had looked like the African women he had seen in magazine, strong and pretty and the same deep brown as he was. Her hair had grown out with patches of gray in the back and one just over her forehead. She looked older than before, before all the trouble with Randy.

"You stayed until five o'clock?"

"I stayed until visiting hours was up," Mama said. "Turn your head."

Jamal turned his head while Mama took her stockings off.

"How Randy doing?"

"I don't know," Mama said. "He still talking like he ain't got no sense, as far as I'm concerned."

"What he say?"

"He talking about how he gonna appeal his case and stuff, and asking me if I got five hundred dollars. No five hundred dollars grew on trees when he was out here in the street, and I sure don't see none growing on trees with him up there."

"He think he can get out?"

"I guess he ain't got nothing else to do up there except thinking about getting out," Mama said. She reached down and rubbed her ankle. "I sure hope this swelling in my feet go down by tomorrow," Mama said.

"You got some work?" Jamal said.

"Mr. Stanton call me just before I left to see Randy. He said he can give me two days this week. He said things may pick up for Christmas, too. Maybe I can get the money for Randy. I don't know."

"That other lawyer said he ain't getting out," Jamal said. "He said he can't get out until he do seven years.

Mama didn't say anything. She took a deep breath that seemed to swell her up, and then let it out slowly.

Jamal was sorry for what he had said, but it was true. Randy got fifteen to twenty years, and the lawyer said that he would have to stay in for at least seven years before he could come out on parole. When he got out, Jamal would be nineteen years old and Sassy would be fifteen. That was a long time.

He imagined Randy getting out, and meeting him. They might even be the same size, Jamal thought. He might even have a mustache by then.

Scorpions. Copyright © by Walter Myers. Reprinted by permission of HarperCollins Publishers, Inc. All rights reserved. Available now wherever books are sold.

Meet the Author

Walter Dean Myers was the New York Times bestselling author of Monster, the winner of the first Michael L. Printz Award; a former National Ambassador for Young People's Literature; and an inaugural NYC Literary Honoree. Myers received every single major award in the field of children's literature. He was the author of two Newbery Honor Books and six Coretta Scott King Awardees. He was the recipient of the Margaret A. Edwards Award for lifetime achievement in writing for young adults, a three-time National Book Award Finalist, as well as the first-ever recipient of the Coretta Scott King-Virginia Hamilton Award for Lifetime Achievement.

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Scorpions 4.1 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 71 reviews.
QMS More than 1 year ago
This book helped me learn new things in life. When Jamal's brother Randy was in jail for robbery and murder, he sent his friend Mack out to persuade Randy's brother Jamal that he should be the new leader in the scorpions now that Randy is in jail. Jamal of course gets sucked in and now him and his friend Tito have become members of the scorpions. This book showed me that people can use pressure as a weapon against you. If you get sucked in because of pressure then you can end up making the worst mistakes in your life. I would recommend this book to any kid in the world that needs to know the right path to go down in life.
Celest Bucknor More than 1 year ago
this book is the best and the auther of this book is coming to my school!!!!!!!!!!
Guest More than 1 year ago
This book really understands me. I hate to read but this is my all time favorite book.
Guest More than 1 year ago
I really enjoyed Scorpions. It was a book about a twelve year old boy named Jamal. Jamal is trying his hardest to make the right desicions but continues to get caught up. Only having his best friend Tito by his side Jamal struggles with school, family and the streets. So much is being expected of him from his mom, his teachers and Crazy Mack, the leader of his new gang Scorpions, wants him to take over Jamal is just overwhelemed. SO sit back and enjoy the life, trial and tiems of young Jamal's struggle to try to make it.
Guest More than 1 year ago
I like the book Scorpions. I recommended this book to everyone who likes to read. Jamal,was a execellent character. He did what he thought was right. But bring a gun to school was a bad idea. There moto in the ghetto was 'You Got To Take What The Street Put Down.' Everyone seems to be getting on Jamal's case. Jamal's bestfriend name was, Tito. Mack wants Jamal to take over as the leader of Scorpions.Jamal doesn't want to be the leader of Scorpions. He does not want anything to do with the gang. He wants to get Randy,his brother out of prison. He wanted to get some money for Randy's appeal. Please go out and buy this book,'Scorpions'
Guest More than 1 year ago
jamiel is a twelve yer old boy. who's brother name randy is locked up.his dad comes around every know and then. his mom workers extra hours jus so she can get extra money.sassy is his is always getting on his nervs. his friend tito isnt' sure what he want to but he doen't what to lose his best friend so he's down with jamiel.mack is a scorpions member and he want jamiel to become a leader of the scorpions.every other member in the scorpions thinks that jamiel is to small to be leading any gang.mack gives him a gun.with the gun jamiel gain a hole lot of respect from the members in ths scorpions. mack says with that gun u can get the money for randy appiel.tito doesnt thinks that jamiel should take the gun.
Guest More than 1 year ago
I love this book because I can relate to it,my life use to be sort of like this story. This was the first whole book that I ever read.I love the grammer and all because I kinda talk like that and I hear people talk like that almost every day.Even that characters and the food they ate are kind of how my life was and still is.
Guest More than 1 year ago
this book is a excellent book! i read this book in three days! thats how good it was.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Scorpion is so realistic. Something like what happened in this book could happen in someones life.I wont tell the story because I want whoever reads this book to enjoy.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Although I am only 12 years old I have read a lot of books and The Scorpions is one of my favorites so far. I liked the fast pace action in this book as well as in the rest of Walter Dean Myers books I have read as well.
Guest More than 1 year ago
The Scorpions is a book you'll never want to put down.Jamals brother goes to jail and he is left to be the leader of the gang.He is only 12.dont want to ruin the ending for you all that want to read it.It is seriously a must read book.
Guest More than 1 year ago
I really never did like reading until my teacher made me read that book! but i'm actually glad that i read the book b/c i had never been acrossed with a book that good! that book made me a reader. I really rocommend this book! scorpions is a book that some people can relate to it may not be you but it may be someone close to you or maybe not i know i had problems maybe not like his but i know people that have & i've been there to help sometimes. and i'm really glad that i been there for them b/c other people just turn there backs on you & that's the mistake we all do sometimes when someone really needs us!
Guest More than 1 year ago
It¿s the late 1980¿s in the bustling streets of New York City. The buildings are rundown and some of them are used as crack houses. This is Jamal Hicks¿ world of confusion and fear. Jamal Hicks is twelve years old when is brother, Randy, is convicted of the murder of a grocery store man, and he is sentenced from 15 years to life in prison. Randy¿s friend, Mack, promised randy to make Jamal the leader of the Scorpions. Mack is the kind of guy who will do anything to get money for alcohol. Jamal wants Tito, his best friend, to join him in the gang. Indian, a member of the Scorpion gang, wants to be leader and thinks Jamal is too young to lead the gang. Angel, another Scorpion, agrees with Indian. Jamal just wants to get out of all the hype and wants life to go back to normal. After a fight at school with a kid larger then he is, Jamal wants to get rid of the gun Mack gave him for protection. Jamal used it to scare the bigger kid and to make him stop beating him up. Mack gave Jamal the gun because if he¿s going to be the leader of the Scorpions he has to protect himself. Indian really wants to get rid of Jamal so he can be leader of the Scorpions. The former leader, Randy, was thrown in prison for a murder he didn¿t do. Jamal is having enough trouble in his life when his brother is in jail and he¿s getting beat up at school. He decides to get one trouble off his back by leaving Scorpions and telling Indian he can be the leader. He calls up Angel when he¿s at work in the Bar-B-Q restaurant and tells him that he¿ll give up trying to be the leader of the Scorpions. Angel tells Jamal to meet Indian in a park at 11:00 PM the next day. Jamal does and brings his friend Tito with him. He gives Tito his gun and then they go off to the park. At the park Indian and Angel beat up Jamal and Angel pulls out a knife while Jamal is on the ground. They don¿t know Tito is there watching with the gun. To find out what happens next you have to read this book. This book gives and exciting and entertaining account of Jamal¿s life. I say it has completed its purpose, to entertain, very well. This book has themes of gang life and drug abuse and school violence. This books theme¿s captures the mind of the reader and keeps readers entertained throughout the entire book. I thought this book was great and it deserves its four star rating and the Newbery Honor award. This book was really good at keeping my attention and that¿s a real achievement for any book. I recommend this book to anyone 12 years or older.
Guest More than 1 year ago
The book " Scoropions " is a great book. It teaches you not to do drugs and the importance in your family. I really like this book and I rate it a 5 out of 5!
Guest More than 1 year ago
This book takes you through 12 year old Jamals life and the tough choices he had to make to survive in his tough neighborhood. It shows how tough he had it and how dangerous it is to get involved in gangs. I recommend this book to anyone who is looking for a book with a lot of action.
Guest More than 1 year ago
I thought that this was a good book. It opened my eyes to the hardships of people living in Harlem. However, I could not relate very much.
nolenreads 12 months ago
A great story set in a culture most folks are not aware of. The characters are well-drawn. The dialogue is paced so that the reader is kept interested.
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