Airball: My Life in Briefs

L. D. Harkrader, Author . Roaring Brook/ Brodie $15.95 (198p) ISBN 978-1-59643-060-0

Moving as fluidly as a basketball superstar in action, this big-hearted first novel is set in a Kansas town renowned as the home of Brett McGrew, now a famous NBA player. Though he has no apparent athletic ability, narrator Kirby Nickel joins the seventh-grade basketball team in hopes of finally crossing paths with McGrew, whose jersey number is being retired in a ceremony to which the team has been invited. Meeting this luminary has been a life-long dream of Kirby's; he is convinced that McGrew, who was a friend of the boy's mother in high school, is his father. As farfetched as the premise sounds, Kirby's sincerity and conviction—and the clues he uncovers—lend his theory pleasing plausibility. But in order to attend the event honoring McGrew, the seventh-grade team must turn its record around (they haven't won a game in three years). The gruff coach solemnly gives each player a "Stealth Warm-up Suit," allegedly developed by the Marine Corps (and designed to help players run faster and jump higher), announcing that, "for those who don't have what it takes to control the technology, the uniforms... are invisible." Some funny scenes follow as the kids proceed to practice—and eventually win every game—dressed only in their underwear. Kirby's encounter with McGrew leads to an unexpected, satisfyingly sentimental finale. Even non-basketball fans will savor the on-court action and will cheer loudly for these determined players, especially endearingly ingenuous Kirby. Ages 8-12. (Oct.)

Reviewed on: 11/07/2005
Release date: 09/01/2005
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Paperback - 204 pages - 978-0-312-37382-5
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