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Series: Point Signature   

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Annotation: Seventeen-year-old "Slam" Harris is counting on his noteworthy basketball talents to get him out of the inner city and give him a chance to succeed in life, but his coach sees things differently.
Catalog Number: #274081
Format: Perma-Bound Edition
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Copyright Date: 1996
Edition Date: 2008
Pages: 266 pages
Availability: Available
ISBN: Publisher: 0-545-05574-1 Perma-Bound: 0-605-44095-6
ISBN 13: Publisher: 978-0-545-05574-1 Perma-Bound: 978-0-605-44095-1
Dewey: Fic
LCCN: 95046647
Dimensions: 18 cm.
Language: English
ALA Booklist
On the basketball court, 17-year-old Greg Slam Harris is in control. His disciplined body does what he tells it, the ball becomes an extension of his arms, and his powerful legs allow him to elevate above the chaos at ground level. Off the court, however, order is elusive and elevation rarely possible: his grandmother is in the hospital, possibly dying; he has trouble fitting in at the predominantly white high school he attends; his grades are sinking ever lower; and his best friend from the neighborhood may be dealing crack. We've heard this story many times before, but Myers does a good job of rescuing his characters from stereotype. His descriptions of Slam on the court, feeling the ball's grain on his fingertips as his hands clear the rim, use crisp details, not flowery language, to achieve their muscular poetry, and Myers is equally vivid in relating the torment Slam feels as he stares at a page of indecipherable algebra formulas. Although Myers' message about one's responsibility for making life's hard choices occasionally feels a bit forced, rather than growing naturally from the story, he wisely avoids the heavily inspirational, Rocky style finale common to so many sports novels. Sometimes I think you guys are just heartbreaks waiting to happen, Slam's girlfriend Mtisha tells him at the end, providing a sobering coda to this admirably realistic coming-of-age novel. (Reviewed November 15, 1996)
Horn Book
Seventeen-year-old Greg Harris is known as Slam for his incredible skill on the basketball court. When he goes to a new school--a magnet school where African Americans are in the minority--he faces a host of challenges and conflicts. Myers never presents easy solutions in his novels, and readers will appreciate the honesty with which he portrays the dreams of one Harlem teenager.
Kirkus Reviews
A Harlem teenager learns how to apply the will he has to win at hoops to other parts of his life in this vivid, fluent story from Myers (Toussaint L'Ouverture, p. 1472, etc.). Greg ``Slam'' Harris is justly proud of his game, but he realizes that NBA daydreams don't cut it in the classrooms of his new South Bronx magnet school- -and that the tough talk that serves him so well on the street only gets his teachers and his college-bound girlfriend, Mtisha, on his case. Writing in a rolling, fast- break style that sounds so authentic that the absence of rough language is hardly noticeable, Myers brilliantly captures the pace and feel of inner city life as he climbs into the shoes of an angry, confused young man watching his friends making right or wrong turns, and wondering about his own direction. The author plots with rare skill: Slam simultaneously works to mend fences with Mtisha, nerves himself to find out whether his suddenly prosperous main man, Ice, has turned to dealing, and leads the school's unprepossessing team through a series of exciting games to a conference championship. Few writers can match Myers for taut, savvy basketball action, and in those scenes he's at the top of his form. Some loose ends may stay untied, but Slam, after hearing his assistant coach's comment that not all games end at the buzzer, is beginning to find a way to make his pride work for, rather than against, him. Persuasive. (Fiction. 12-15)"
Publishers Weekly
Myers uses contemporary urban black locutions to relay his view of the mean streets of Harlem and to describe some heart-thumping hoop action in a novel that, like most good sports stories, is about more than just sports,"""" said PW. Ages 12-up. (Nov.)
School Library Journal
Gr 8 Up-Seventeen-year-old Greg, nicknamed Slam because of his ability on the basketball court, is the narrator of this street-wise novel. He is one of a small number of blacks who attends the Latimer Arts Magnet School in the Bronx. Though a junior, this is his first year at Latimer; he has problems keeping his grades up, and his basketball coach and some teammates resent his playing style. Along with these struggles, Slam faces some typical teenage woes with the opposite sex, his younger brother, etc., as well as some more serious concerns-a father who drinks too much, drugs on the streets, and a good friend heading for big trouble. Slam's battles both on and off the court parallel one another, demonstrating that easy resolutions to difficult problems are rare. As the book reaches its climax, the young man begins to realize that he needs to approach life like he does basketball, which is a possible start in the right direction. Plenty of high-intensity basketball action and street lingo from the "hood" will appeal to reluctant readers. Once again, Myers produces a book that reinforces his standing as a preeminent YA author. Booktalk this title along with James Bennett's Squared Circle (1995) and David Klass's Danger Zone (1996, both Scholastic) to basketball-minded teens.-Tom S. Hurlburt, La Crosse Public Library, WI
Word Count: 55,306
Reading Level: 4.5
Interest Level: 7-12
Accelerated Reader: reading level: 4.5 / points: 8.0 / quiz: 15087 / grade: Upper Grades
Reading Counts!: reading level:4.8 / points:10.0 / quiz:Q10517
Lexile: 750L
Guided Reading Level: W
Fountas & Pinnell: W

An exciting, eye-catching repackage of acclaimed author Walter Dean Myers' bestselling paperbacks, to coincide with the publication of SUNRISE OVER FALLUJA in hardcover.

Seventeen-year-old Greg "Slam" Harris can do it all on the basketball court. He's seen ballplayers come and go, and he knows he could be one of the lucky ones. Maybe he'll make it to the top. Or maybe he'll stumble along the way. Slam's grades aren't that hot. And when his teachers jam his troubles in his face, he blows up.

Slam never doubted himself on the court until he found himself going one-on-one with his own future, and he didn't have the ball.

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