cover image DOUBLE DUTCH


Sharon M. Draper, . . S&S/Atheneum, $16 (192pp) ISBN 978-0-689-84230-6

Secrets, not all of them credible, abound among the eighth-grade protagonists of this disappointing novel. Delia has managed to hide her inability to read from her parents and teachers, but she doubts she can pass the proficiency test that will enable her to graduate to ninth grade and continue competing in Double Dutch jump rope. Randy, whose mother walked out several years ago, hasn't told anyone that his father, a long-distance truck driver, has been missing for weeks. And when twin tornadoes hit the school, it becomes apparent that the Tolliver twins, who dress entirely in black and terrorize their classmates, are actually sensitive fellows behind their intimidating façades. Overflowing with rambling conversations and extraneous details, Draper's (Forged by Fire) narrative is often awkward ("The huge gym was filled with crisply ironed T-shirts, frantic practice jumps in the halls and parking lot, and the electric excitement of competition and challenge"). Jump-by-jump descriptions of the Double Dutch championships may rescue this tale for diehard jump-rope fans. Others can skip it. Ages 11-up. (June)