CM . . .
. Volume XII Number 21 . . . . June 23, 2006
The Laggan school basketball team suffers from two hardships—number one, they are on a losing streak; number two, they are plagued with the team name Laird, an old English word for Lord. When they decide to try and change the name through a democratic school election, one of the nominated names is Laggan Lard Butts. Although at first this name seems like a putdown, the team uses it as a rallying force, ultimately helping them to win more games. The novel's theme? Being able to laugh at yourself is the best way to relieve stress and garner success. The tension in the novel rises when it looks like the name Laggan Lard Butts might actually win the election, a situation about which the principal is not too pleased.
Eric Walters' characterizations are excellent. The story is told in a first person narrative from the viewpoint of one of the boys on the team. Sam is your regular guy, a troublemaker who is generally liked by everyone. Through this character, Walters produces a realistic picture of teenage relationships, including romantic, friendship, and even student-teacher relations. As well, the basketball games are quick paced and would appeal both to boys and girls since they are not full of minute details of how the game is being played but rather focus on the emotions of characters as they play. All in all, this is a story I hope will be read by more than just its targeted audience. With a bit of luck, the unappealing cover and its denomination as a book for reluctant readers will not deter others from picking it off the shelves. It deserves a wide audience.
Kallie George is currently completing her Masters of Children's Literature degree at the University of British Columbia.
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Copyright © the Manitoba Library Association. Reproduction for personal use is permitted only if this copyright notice is maintained. Any other reproduction is prohibited without permission.