By Betty Hicks
(Roaring Brook Press, Hardcover, 9781596430044, 176pp.)
Publication Date: August 12, 2004
Other Editions of This Title: Paperback
Categories: Social Issues - General
"Man, thought Stuart, rolling his eyes upward, I've got to be the most in-trouble kid, ever.
He wondered if he could make the Guinness Book of World Records. He'd be willing to bet money that no one else had come close to getting busted as many times as he had."
A tale of friends and family, action-packed sports, and a lot of crossed signals.
Stuart is grounded. Again. His strict mother is always on his case. If he's busted one more time, Stuart may even have to give up soccer. But his best friend, a girl named Mack, hatches a plot to distract his mom by fixing her up with Mack's uncle. It just might work-if their friendship doesn't unravel first. And anyhow, he doesn't want his widowed mom to date. Or does he?
Betty Hicks is the author of Animal House and Iz and I Smell Like Ham, a Book Sense 76 selection and Booklist Top Ten Sports Books for Youth. She lives in Greensboro, NC.
Booklist Gr. 5-7. Twelve-year-old Stuart Ellis finds that his relationship with his single-parent mom is becoming increasingly prickly. When he is forced to quit the soccer team after he breaks a household rule, he asks his best friend, Mack, for help. Mack is a practical girl with a lot of common sense, but Stuart doesn't approve when she suggests that her uncle date Stuart's mom. Stuart counterstrikes by introducing his mother to his soccer coach, an eligible bachelor. Mom and the coach hit it off, leading to a reversal of Mom's no-soccer ruling. Things go wrong along the way, though, as Stuart finds himself in predicaments on and off the soccer field. The zing in this story comes from the well-drawn, believable characters. Hicks also provides plenty of accurately described soccer action and some funny lines. A few loose ends suggest a sequel, which should please the fans that Stuart and Mack will pick up with this entertaining effort. Publishers Weekly As Hicks’s (I Smell Like Ham) spry story opens, 12-year-old Stuart is grounded yet again by Jamie, his over-protective single mother. The woman, according to her frustrated son, “presto-chango, sometime after his twelfth birthday, when he hadn’t been paying attention [had] turned into a fire-breathing, spying, interfering, cold-blooded dragon.” When he breaks another rule by accepting a ride in the car of his friend’s older brother, Jamie does what the boy considers unthinkable: decides he must temporarily quit his beloved soccer team. Stuart tells his best friend, a sage, endearingly eccentric girl named Mack, that it’s time to implement her plan to find a beau for Stuart’s mother, which will ideally distract her enough so that she’ll ease up on her son. With intermittently comical and poignant results, the plan backfires miserably. Mack’s idea of introducing Jamie to her uncle leads to a falling out between her and Stuart, and the boy’s idea of having his mom date his soccer coach alienates him from his teammates. The novel’s characters__–both young and old-come across as impressively convincing, as do the dialog among them and their relationships with each other. Hicks’s electric descriptions of soccer play will score extra points with fans of the sport. This tale entertains while delivering a thought-provoking message about parent-child communication and peer relationships. School Library Journal Grade 5-7–Stuart, 12, could make the Guinness Book of World Records for most-busted kid in middle school. His mom has an endless series of rules, and he can't seem to get away with anything. He's already grounded, and he's lost phone, computer, and video-game privileges. All that's left is soccer; when Mom threatens to make him quit the team, he decides to take action. Figuring that she'll have less time to obsess about him if she has a boyfriend, he plans to set her up with his soccer coach, but his scheme has unanticipated consequences both on and off the field. Hicks has an ear for the dialogue of middle schoolers, and a good feel for the sometimes rocky relationships between parents and early adolescents. Soccer fans will appreciate the exciting game action as well as the true-to-life interactions among the team members. A winning combination of sports and humor with a subtle message about personal responsibility.