________________ CM . . . . Volume XX Number 37. . . .May 23, 2014


Hoop Dreams. (Podium Sports Academy).

Lorna Schultz Nicholson.
Toronto, ON: James Lorimer, 2014.
136 pp., pbk., hc. & epub, $9.95 (pbk.), $16.95 (hc.), $7.95 (epub).
ISBN 978-1-4594-0587-5 (pbk.), ISBN 978-1-4594-0588-2 (hc.), ISBN 978-1-4594-0589-9 (epub).

Grades 7-10 / Ages 12-15.

Review by Sherry Faller.

**** /4



I could see Kat crying, standing by a photo of me. Mom had her arm around her. She was crying too. My mind clicked to a huge auditorium filled with students and teachers. Carrie was crying. Parmita too. And even Jonathon. Suddenly my mind went dark. Everything shifted and I could see my family laughing at the beach, eating lobster without me, and then the slide show went to an auditorium with no people. No one showed up. No one cared.

I popped open the lid on the bottle.

I heard a tapping noise in the distance, but ignored it.


Hoop Dreams is a new book in the “Podium Sports Academy” series. Each book in the series revolves around one of the students at the school and features that individual’s specialized sport. The books are fast-paced and easy to read, and the details of each sport are well-researched. Besides the focus on sports and general daily school life, each book focuses on the main character’s inner demons as they plod through their teens, dealing with soul-searching decisions and actions.

     Allie McLean, aka Allie Bean because of her height, is the captain of the girls’ basketball team at Podium Sports Academy. She prides herself in being a star athlete and urges her teammates to play at their best. Because the story is written in the first person, readers experience the high and low points of Allie’s confidence. She reveals how she talks herself into doing the hard things, the things that she feels are expected of her. She tells herself not to cry when talking to her family members back home in Halifax. She talks herself into taking risks, such as giving herself to Jonathan because she feels she loves him. She chides herself for being self-centered and selfish like her mother. Most telling of all, readers can feel her loneliness oozing from the page.

     Allie has a damaged knee which is awaiting an MRI. She looks after it by resting and icing it between games and practices, but she also relies on pain-killers to get her through a game. Suspense is built as each game causes her more pain, as each jump could result in a poor landing. With a sports scholarship awaiting Allie, readers just know something tragic will happen to jeopardize her future.

     The series is designed to connect with teens by dramatically leading them through the possibilities their choices create and offering wholesome suggestions for successful outcomes. Author Lorna Schultz Nicholson achieves this without ever appearing to be preaching to her readers. Hoop Dreams is highly recommended for any teens, and the series should be available in all middle years school libraries.

Highly Recommended.

Sherry Faller is a retired teacher-librarian in Winnipeg, MB.

To comment on this title or this review, send mail to cm@umanitoba.ca.

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