cover image Taking Sides

Taking Sides

Gary Soto. Harcourt Children's Books, $17 (144pp) ISBN 978-0-15-284076-1

This touchingly realistic story explores the divided loyalties of a Hispanic basketball player who has recently moved from a poor neighborhood to a more affluent one. Initially, eighth grader Lincoln feels like a traitor when he plays ball for the predominantly white school he now attends. To make matters worse, his new coach seems to hold a grudge against both Lincoln and his former school, Franklin Junior High. As a game against Franklin approaches, tension mounts and Lincoln experiences clashes with several people, including some teammates. But he manages to have fun on the night of the big game and eventually makes peace with his friends. Once again, Soto ( Baseball in April ) masterfully conveys the Hispanic-American experience, and readers will respect Lincoln's values and good sportsmanship. Ultimately, the boy learns to adjust to a new situation and accept new challenges without compromising his individuality. Ages 8-12. (Oct.)