Friday, August 26, 2011


by Walter Dean Myers
The Cruisers, book two

Sidney Aronofsky is one of the best chess players under age 16 in both the city and the country. When he's arrested for trying to buy drugs, it comes as a total surprise to those who know him. The expectations of parents, schools, and tutors pressure the young players. Sidney loves and wants to play chess, but dislikes the constant spotlight. He thinks that if he appears to be involved in drugs or a troublemaker he will be excused from playing on the school's team. In this book Zander and his crew is back, using the Cruiser school newspaper express their frustrations and triumphs. (description from

These books are great for my tween readers. They are the lightest urban fiction you could get... the kids go to a really great school in Harlem, but they are real. They deal with real life issues like drugs, dating, racism, etc. Myers does a great job making these issues apparent, accessible to tween readers, and totally age appropriate.

I love the relationship that Zander has with his mother. While like any other tween, he doesn't always love what his mother says, he is not at all afraid to approach her with problems and they deal with them together, really well. In this particular book, Zander's uncle also helps the Cruisers to show their friend Sidney how bad drugs can really make your life. It's great to see good role models for the kids in this series. (On that note, I also love how these kids are polite!!)

This book happens to center around competative chess. I thought that Myers did a really great job explaining parts of the game and how competative matches are held without getting too technical and losing his audience. It was really interesting...and like any other sport/activity, there were down sides that I thought were touched upon really well, too.

Myers definitely knows his craft! As a Teen Librarian in an urban setting, these books really are perfect to hand to my tweens. *Also, this series is narrated by Kevin R. Free, who does a great job!*

Full disclosure: Audio book received to review for SLJ

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