Tag Archives: Meyers (author)

Slam! Review

slamSlam! by Walter Dean Meyers

Scholastic, 2008. 978-0545055741.

Winner of the 1997 Coretta Scott King Book Award

Synopsis: Greg ‘Slam’ Harris knows how to hoop. He’s a powerhouse ball player that has his eye set on the NBA. But his teachers can’t seem to dig it, always getting on his case about his grades, about how he could do better. Then he starts to see the other side, starts to see what it looks like when you can’t make it, when you have to face not being on top. Turns out, life is a game and he doesn’t have the ball.

Why I picked it up: Meyers was a popular author among many of my library school peers and his work came to me highly recommended.

Why I finished it: I had a really hard time getting into this book, not because of the subject matter, but because it was written in dialect, mirroring the way we speak. It gives the reader a sense of the narrator and how he views the world around him, but it makes for somewhat annoying reading material. I found myself gleaning the story mostly from context, which also made it difficult to get into the book. The sports writing was enjoyable: I’m a huge hoops fan – mostly college ball – and it was intriguing to me to have the game set up from the players perspective and to have insight on the lingo they use for the plays and the ball. I like first person narratives because they tend to be more ‘reliable’ and we have a better feel for the characters and their emotions. I can totally understand Slam’s frustrations at being bothered about his grades and his performance off the court. I’ve been haggled about needing an attitude adjustment, about needing to ‘do the right thing’. And yeah, some of that comes from being a teen and being in situations where you don’t think anyone understands you. But as a reader, we see that Slam has potential; we want him to wake up and realize that there’s a little more going on than just the stuff happening to him. Whether or not a wake-up call will stick is hard to say, but if it comes from the right place, it can make all the difference. If you like books that read like you talk, then I’d recommend it. If you’re like me and you know you’re going to be slogging through it, perhaps one of Meyers other works will be a better choice.

Other related materials: Hoops by Walter Dean Meyers; Game by Walter Dean Meyers; Monster by Walter Dean Meyers; Kick by Walter Dean Meyers and Ross Workman; Scorpions by Walter Dean Meyers; Somewhere in the Darkness by Walter Dean Meyers; The Jericho Trilogy by Sharon M. Draper; We Beat the Street: How a Friendship Pact Lead to Success by Sampson Davis, George Jenkins, Rameck Hunt, and Sharon M. Draper; True Legend by Mike Lupica; The Crossover by Kwame Alexander; Ball Don’ Lie by Matt de la Peña; Boy21 by Matthew Quick; Night Hoops by Carl Deuker; Miracle’s Boys by Jacqueline Woodson

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Now Is Your Time! Review

now_is_your_timeNow Is Your Time!: The African American Struggle for Freedom by Walter Dean Meyers

Amistad, 1992. 978-0064461207

Winner of the 1992 Coretta Scott King Book Award

Synopsis: Since they were first brought as captives to Virginia, the people who would become African Americans have struggled for freedom. Thousands fought for the rights of all Americans during the Revolutionary War, and for their own rights during the Civil War. On the battlefield, through education, and through their creative genius, they have worked toward one goal: that the rights of life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness be denied no one. – from Amazon.com

Why I picked it up: I wanted a non-fiction book about the history of Africans in America for younger readers, and Meyers’ book fit the bill.

Why I finished it: The reader can almost feel the weight the author has taken on, the weight of the many that came before him and fought for freedom and equality. It gives us a brief history of some of the greatest minds of their generations and how they contributed to American history and African American history. It gives us insight into the fight waged even among the Blacks for recognition and acceptance. As a white female, I won’t ever hope to understand the struggle experienced by African Americans, but learning and having knowledge of the struggle makes me more aware of the fight. I was intrigued at the tidbits of the author’s own history that were added to the narrative, illustrating for the reader the reasoning behind Meyers’ shouldering of the yoke of his ancestors. Life was not always easy for African Americans in the United States, and there are many places in America where things are still segregated, which tells me that the struggle for freedom lives on in the current and future generations. Will there ever be true equality between the races? Perhaps not, but I am not so disillusioned as to believe that there won’t be a common ground found that will pave the way for a nation of peoples who are all equal, on every level and in every sense of the word. This book is an excellent history of a people and a nation, a history of which we should take heed. It is a book about self-discovery as much as it is about the discovery of the potential for change and the need for it to occur. It may be a book aimed at young people, but it can be enjoyed and appreciated by all ages, races, sexes, and creeds.

Other related materials: One More River to Cross: An African American Photo Album by Walter Dean Meyers; A Young People’s History of the United States: Columbus to the War on Terror by Howard Zinn, adapted by Rebecca Stefoff; A Different Mirror for Young People: A History of Multicultural America by Ronald Takaki, adapted by Rebecca Stefoff; Leon’s Story by Leon Walter Tillage, collage art by Susan L. Roth; The Price of Freedom: How One Town Stood Up to Slavery by Dennis Brindell Fradin and Judith Bloom Fradin, illustrated by Eric Velasquez; With Every Drop by James Collier and Christopher Collier; Sounder by William H. Armstrong, illustrations by James Barkley; The Year of Miss Agnes by Kirkpatrick Hill; Through My Eyes by Ruby Bridges

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