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Cringe-Worthy Decisions: How Lamar’s Bad Prank Won a Bubba-Sized Trophy by Crystal Allen

Well hello there!

As you may already know, every summer I read all fifteen of the Florida Sunshine State books so I can better promote them to students at school and because I love middle grades fiction. Well,  How Lamar’s Bad Prank Won a Bubba-Sized Trophy by Crystal Allen is the sixth How Lamar's Bad Prank Won a Bubba-Sized Trophy by Crystal AllenSunshine State book I’ve finished this summer.

Thirteen-year-old Lamar Washington is the maddest, baddest, most spectacular bowler at Striker’s Bowling Paradise. But while Lamar’s a whiz at rolling strikes, he always strikes out with girls. And his brother, Xavier the Basketball Savior, is no help. Xavier earns trophy after trophy on the basketball court and soaks up Dad’s attention, leaving no room for Lamar’s problems.

Until bad boy Billy Jenks convinces Lamar that hustling at the alley will help him win his dream girl, plus earn him enough money to buy an expensive pro ball and impress celebrity bowler Bubba Sanders. But when Billy’s scheme goes awry, Lamar ends up ruining his brother’s shot at college and every relationship in his life. Can Lamar figure out how to mend his broken ties, no matter what the cost?

How Lamar’s Bad Prank Won a Bubba-Sized Trophy has this rhythm to it that is just awesome.  Seriously, just read this first paragraph:

“Since Saturday, I’ve fried Sergio like catfish, mashed him like potatoes, and creamed his corn in ten straight games of bowling. And it’s just the middle of the week. People call Wednesday “hump day,” but for Sergio it’s “kicked-in-the-rump day.” I’m his daddy now, the maddest, baddest, most spectacular bowler ever.”

I literally re-read that over and over again because I just love the way it rolls off the tongue!  Allen writes this way throughout the whole book.  There are so many sentences and paragraphs that you can’t help but re-read out loud because they just sound so good!

Lamar is an incredibly likable character.  He’s your average kid struggling to get out from under his brother’s shadow and deal with life after his mother died. He’s awesome at bowling, but bowling isn’t basketball and in his town, basketball is king. Lamar is hilarious and the dialog between him and his best friend Sergio is laugh out loud funny! I don’t know if my students will get Lamar’s love for bowling, but Lamar is so personable they will definitely like him. You just can’t help but like him.

So, as the title suggests, Lamar makes some really bad choices and one awful one that affect everyone he knows.  Lamar is like any kid (myself at that age included) where life is all about what you feel at the moment. Sometimes this running off emotion thing leads to horrible decisions with major consequences, which Allen portrays well in this book.  Lamar knows it was wrong the second he follows through with his choice and is forced to deal with what happens after.  Some things get wrapped up nicely, and some don’t, but Lamar knows himself better because of his mistakes.

How Lamar’s Band Prank Won a Bubba-Sized Trophy will resonate with anyone who has ever been an emotionally driven teenager (ummm everyone at some point!) who has made some cringe-worthy decisions and had to deal with the aftermath. Middle grade readers and up will enjoy this book about “the maddest, baddest, most spectacular bowler ever”!

Author: Crystal Allen

Publisher: Balzer & Bray/Harper Teen (February 22, 2011)

Format: Hardcover

Length: 288 pages

Series: Standalone

YA/MG: MG

Buy the Book: How Lamar’s Bad Prank Won a Bubba-Sized Trophy

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Book Trailer of the Week: The Underdogs

I’m always on the hunt for middle grades books for boys and Mike Lupica never disappoints.  The Underdogs by Mike LupicaThis week’s highlighted book trailer is Lupica’s The Underdogs.  It was published in fall of 2011, so its been out for a little while already.  I’m going to have to add this one to the next purchase I make for my school’s Media Center.   To learn more about the book watch the trailer!

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Tuesday Top Ten: Sports Fiction

My boys at school love sports, as most boys do.  Problem is they will read the same nonfiction sports book over and over again. Not that there is anything wrong with nonfiction. Nonfiction should an incredibly important part of any readers’ reading experience, I just want my boys to branch out into different books.   So, I’ve been trying to push them towards some sports fiction.

In my research I’ve found some titles the students like.  Here they are (in no particular order):

Airball: My Life in Briefs by L.D. Harkrader

Heat by Mike Lupica

Football Hero by Tim Green

Tears of a Tiger by Sharon Draper

Game by Walter Dean Myers

Pop by Gordon Korman

Tangerine by Edward Bloor

Gym Candy by Carl Deuker

Schooled by Paul Langdon

Crash by Jerry Spinelli

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There Was a Curse: The Prince of Fenway Park by Julianna Baggott

“There was a curse. It was reversed. This is the boy who did it.”

It is fall 2004 and twelve-year-old Oscar Egg loves the Red Sox. In fact, he loves them so much because he believes that both he and the Red Sox are cursed. Oscar, an orphan, was dumped by his birth parents as a baby and always felt slightly unwanted by his adopted parents because he’s biracial. He sometimes even wonders if his skin color is the reason his parents separated.

When Oscar’s mom leaves him with his father, so she can spend time with a new boyfriend, all of Oscar’s fears and insecurities come back to haunt him. But soon, Oscar realizes that his strange and sickly dad has a secret. His father lives below Fenway Park and is actually a member of the Cursed Creatures a group of doomed magical creatures forced to live under the park until the curse is broken or reversed.

Oscar soon learns that he just may be the only one with the strength, talent and knowledge who can break the eighty-six year old Red Sox curse. If he can the Cursed Creatures will be free and he’ll make it possible for the Red Sox to finally win a World Series.

A fantasy about sports? This was a very strange concept to me at first. But as I read it I found myself actually enjoying the story.

Two things I liked about the story were the different cursed creatures roaming the tunnels below Fenway and theme of personal identity. There’s the Weasel-man with his pack of weasels, the Pooka and Banshee, his three fairy aunts and other horned magical characters. The characters, although not entirely fleshed out are pretty creative and interesting to read about. Each, as Oscar learns, as their position to play in the game.

Additionally, Baggott explores the theme of personal identity, specifically one’s racial identity. Oscar is biracial (black and white) and he always feels as though its a curse or problem. He fears that his parents wouldn’t have adopted him had they known his skin would be darker than their own. He fears bullies at school who harass him with questions like, “Who’s your daddy?” And he ultimately fears that he’s unwanted and not special. Readers, will be able to identify with Oscar’s feelings and insecurities, even if they don’t stem from the same reasons, because that what all of us fear at that age; “What if I’m not wanted?”, “What if I’m not special?”.

As, someone who isn’t a huge sports fan, I was a little bored with the baseball talk. Especially during the end of the book (to be honest, I skimmed the last few chapters). However, I do think this book would appeal to sports lovers, especially baseball fans, before it would appeal to fantasy readers. The Prince of Fenway Park could be a hook that gets readers who normally wouldn’t pick fantasy novels interested in a genre that’s new to them.

All in all a cute read.