String Music

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9780812626575: String Music

Robby Denwood is an 11-year-old on a losing streak. Obsessed with basketball, he worships J.J., the NBA superstar of the mighty Thunder. Unfortunately, Robby is himself a terrible player, benched for all of his school team’s games. After one hard day on the practice field, Robby decides to run away from home, toward the Thunder’s arena. When a chance meeting brings him together with his hero, he finds that nothing is quite what he thought it would be. Robby’s friendship with the superstar leads him to the bright lights of the pro-basketball world, but it also leads the fame-weary J.J. into Robby’s world of simplicity and contemplation. Robby will never become the hoops star of his dreams, and J.J. will never be an anonymous kid again, but both come to realize that string music does not only come from the sound of a ball swishing through a net.

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From Publishers Weekly:

"Why was I this little kind of nobody guy?... I was like a minus sign. A zero." In this moving if not exactly plausible novel, Chicago sports columnist Telander (Heaven Is a Playground) agilely projects the voice of an 11-year-old who is convinced he is a total loser but whose dream is about to come true. An extra on his fifth-grade basketball team, Robby Denwood rarely gets to play, and even his coach addresses him as "Dimwit." His father abandoned the family two years ago, and his mother snaps at him whenever she's not arguing with his sharp-tongued older sister. The boy takes refuge in his fort, a cave in the woods, where he stashes such prized possessions as a poster of Jasper Jasmine, a Michael Jordan-like basketball star. After enduring the humiliation of running into a teammate's elbow on the court and suffering a concussion and broken nose, Robby decides to run away. Here Telander's plot begins to stretch credibility: having spent his last cent buying a bogus ticket from a scalper, Robby sneaks into a basketball game to watch Jasmine play, crashes a post-game press conference where he catches Jasmine's attention and later becomes tight pals with his hero. But basketball buffs will willingly make the leap as Robby, given the plum job of ball boy for Jasmine's team, witnesses dramatic on-court action. More memorable than these play-by-plays, however, is the author's sympathetic portrait of a boy who finds comfort and confidence in an uncommon friendship. Ages 9-12.
Copyright 2002 Cahners Business Information, Inc.

From School Library Journal:

Grade 4-6-Robby Denwood doesn't lead a happy life. His father has left the family; his mother is depressed or angry; his sister is argumentative; and his mother, teacher, basketball coach, and teammates are nasty to him. It is a wonder that the 11-year-old has any self-esteem. Just when readers may think it is too hopeless or painful to continue turning the pages, the boy runs away, taking the train to the city. Outside the Thunder Dome, he meets Michael Jordan-clone Jasper Jasmine, the role model who ultimately helps him form a philosophy of life. Readers can see evidence of Telander's sports-writing career in his descriptive, play-by-play action and behind-the-scenes look at professional basketball. However, the wisdom of including Jasmine's penchant for smoking cigars or of describing a cross-dressing pro-basketball teammate is debatable. Nonetheless, Jasmine gives the obligatory admonishment to Robby about smoking. Many of the minor characters are left hanging. At the end, his mother is still depressed and Robby's basketball teammates still disrespect his ability on the court. Still, he learns to answer to his own "string music." Not an essential purchase.
Blair Christolon, Prince William Public Library System, Manassas, VA
Copyright 2002 Cahners Business Information, Inc.

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