For young Danny Walker, this cut was the deepest. Being dropped from the local travel team because of his shortness would have been bad enough, but knowing that he wouldn't be able to compete in the tournament that his father had won was downright humiliating. Fortunately, Danny wasn't the only kid cut for the wrong reasons, and these "runt rejects" have gained an unexpected advocate: Danny's ne'er-do-well dad. New York Daily News columnist Mike Lupica has penned a basketball novel as exciting as any Hollywood sports film.
Sports columnist Lupica (Red Zone) clearly shoots from the heart in this appealing novel centering on a talented basketball player. Danny, after playing for two years for the Vikings, fails to make the seventh-grade travel team because he is "too small." The team is coached by the overly intense Jeff Ross who, as a boy, was always the second-best player on the Vikings-just behind Danny's father, Richie, who led the Vikings to a World Series victory. Richie went on to become an NBA star until a car accident ended his career. Now divorced from Danny's mother, the man returns to town and offers to organize and coach a second travel team, the Warriors. Lupica thus sets the scene for on-court action, and delivers play-by-play descriptions of the team practices and games that will thrill basketball buffs. The novel's emotional pitch intensifies when Richie is seriously injured in yet another car accident, Danny takes over as coach of his team, and Ross's son, Ty, the star of the Vikings, defects from his father's team to join the Warriors. Danny's budding romance with his long-time friend Tess adds a sweet, pleasingly corny sideline to the plot, which culminates with the showdown between the rival teams. To Lupica's credit, the narrative never lingers too long on the fathers' rivalry, instead keeping the focus on Danny, his teammates and his family. The novel includes some genuinely affecting moments, especially those depicting Danny's rapport with each parent. Ages 10-up. (Nov.) Copyright 2005 Reed Business Information.
Twelve year old Danny Walker, a talented basketball player, fails to make the cut for his seventh grade all-star travel teamthe same suburban Middletown team that Danny's father had once led to the championshipand Danny's world begins to fall apart. Making matters worse, Danny has stopped growing at fifty-five inches tall. And who ever heard of a successful fifty-five inch basketball player? Things couldn't possibly get worse. But Danny's life is about to improve in ways that he could not possibly have foreseen. Richie Walker has not been involved in his son Danny's life for a few years, but he suddenly returns to Middletown. As a former professional basketball star, Richie has been struggling with estrangement from Danny and ex-wife Alison, with alcohol abuse, and with disability resulting from an accident years earlier. Richie, however, is now determined to make a positive difference in Danny's life, so Richie decides to organize and coach a new travel team with Danny and a few other talented players. With this as the premise, Lupica's commendable novel takes off at a fast-break pace and includes plenty of exciting twists and turns. Danny, his parents, his friends, and the folks in Middletown all learn something wonderful about friendship, family relationships, teamwork, and respect. Teachers, librarians, and parents should note, however, that profanities which may offend some readers occasionally intrude into the dialogue. 2004, Philomel/Penguin Young Readers Group, Ages 9 to 12.
This is Lupica's first YA novel; he is well known for his sports novels for adults and as a sports writer for The New York Daily News. He has four children and has coached youth basketball, so writing about a team of talented basketball players and their struggling season is not a big reach for him. The main character is 12-year-old Danny, small for his age, a smart, fast basketball player who understands the game better than most. He is the child of a successful basketball player (not so successful as a husband and father), whose career was cut short by an accident; Danny's father is staying around this season to coach Danny's team. So the story of basketball games, players' problems and injuries, family tensions, is also about fathers and sons, friendship, and competition. Fathers who use their sons to satisfy and fulfill their own dreams is a theme throughout. Lupica has great respect for the boys struggling to deal with their own skills, their fathers, their teammates, and their coaches. It's a fairly long story for a YA novel, but all the details of basketball games and practices will be welcome to true basketball fans. It's such a relief to have a sports tale written by someone who truly understands the gameand Lupica knows how to create believable characters as well. An excellent sports story. KLIATT Codes: JRecommended for junior high school students. 2004, Penguin, Philomel, 274p., Ages 12 to 15.
Gr 5-8-Basketball is everything to 12-year-old fanatic Danny Walker, so when he doesn't make the seventh-grade travel team because he's "too short" his world seems to fall apart. Danny's dream had always been to follow in the footsteps of his father, the famous Richie Walker, who competed successfully at the nationals and went on to a promising sports career that was cut short by a tragic car accident. To Danny's surprise, his father steps forward and offers to put together and coach his own youth team. What happens next is beyond everyone's wildest expectations. Wyman's youthful voice is a perfect match for this heartwarming, family-oriented inspirational tale by Mike Lupica (Philomel, 2004). Even non-sports fans will find themselves rooting for Danny's underdog team and will be caught up in the realistic descriptions of their games.-Cindy Lombardo, Tuscarawas County Public Library, New Philadelphia, OH Copyright 2006 Reed Business Information.
For a small man, Richie Walker casts a large shadow over his son's life. Danny Walker would like nothing more than to follow in his father's footsteps. When 12, Richie, a 5'10" point guard phenom, led his ragtag Middletown Vikings from Eastern Long Island to the national finals of the Little League Basketball World Series and became the darling of sportswriters around the country. Problem is Danny didn't make his travel team. Too small. But, in a story every bit as exciting and tear-jerking as any novel or movie in its genre-Hoosiers, Mighty Ducks, The Bad News Bears-Danny gets his chance at glory. Lupica, a sportswriter at the New York Daily News, has the knowledge of the game and the lean prose to make this a taut, realistic story not just about the game but about heart, character, and family. A winner. (Fiction. 10+)
Praise for Travel Team:
“In a story every bit as exciting and tear-jerking as any novel or movie in its genre – Hoosiers, Mighty Ducks, The Bad News Bears – Danny gets his chance at glory. Lupica . . . has the knowledge of the game and the lean prose to make this a taut, realistic story not just about the game but about heart, character, and family. A winner.” –Kirkus Reviews
“Lupica . . . sets the scene for on-court action, and delivers play-by-play descriptions . . . that will thrill basketball buffs. Genuinely affecting.” –Publishers Weekly