Taking Sides
Taking Sides

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Annotation: Fourteen-year-old Lincoln Mendoza, an aspiring basketball player, must come to terms with his divided loyalties when he moves from the Hispanic inner city to a white suburban neighborhood.
Catalog Number: #291689
Format: Perma-Bound Edition
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Publisher: Harcourt
Copyright Date: 1991
Edition Date: 1992
Pages: 154 pages
Availability: Available
ISBN: Publisher: 0-15-204694-1 Perma-Bound: 0-7804-5850-8
ISBN 13: Publisher: 978-0-15-204694-1 Perma-Bound: 978-0-7804-5850-5
Dewey: Fic
LCCN: 91011082
Dimensions: 20 cm.
Language: English
ALA Booklist
Moving from his inner-city San Francisco neighborhood to a middle-class suburb 10 miles away, Lincoln Mendoza finds conflict without and conflict within. He has a lot to put up with: basketball injuries, an unsympathetic (and slightly crazed) coach, and misunderstandings with his old buddy from Franklin Junior High and his new girlfriend at Columbus Junior High. However, Lincoln does find an unexpected ally in his mother's boyfriend. When Franklin plays Columbus in basketball, Linc becomes his own man at last and resolves in some measure the problems that have troubled him. Linc's cool appraisal of the differences and similarities between his two communities makes for interesting reading, but the book's universality springs from the essential realism of the boy's hopes, fears, and disquieting moments. While the use of Spanish words within the text (some translated in context, others requiring a flip back to the glossary) is a mixed blessing, the novel itself is well constructed, well written, and believable. (Reviewed Dec. 1, 1991)
Horn Book
Being the only Hispanic American on the basketball team is hard enough, but Lincoln Mendoza faces a racist coach and conflicting loyalties to his old friends when the teams from his old barrio school and his new suburban school meet. Background complications with his mother's new male friend add texture to a story of growing maturity set inside a sport. Awkward use of Spanish with English translations gets in the way of an otherwise good book.
Kirkus Reviews
Lincoln Mendoza, 12, has felt in limbo ever since moving from San Francisco's Mission District barrio to neat, tree-lined Sycamore—a feeling exacerbated by a game his basketball team is going to play against his former team. Various forces work on Lincoln's fragile sense of identity: he senses that his coach has it in for him because he's Mexican-American; he has trouble accepting his mother's white boyfriend; and he's accused by his main man from the barrio of going ``soft'' living among whites. Sorting through these internal and external prejudices, Lincoln comes to realize that life isn't a matter of taking sides but of integrating the new with the old. Soto (Baseball in April, 1990) creates a believable, compelling picture of the stress that racial prejudice places on minority children. He respects the intelligence of his readers, sparing dramatics and allowing them to read between the lines of his quiet yet powerful scenes and bringing the racial issue closer to home for a mainstream readership: the Mendozas are now suburban and middle class and could be anyone's neighbors. There's a tad too much Spanish (it becomes tiresome to read Spanish followed by its translation), and the glossary of Spanish terms should point out that Mexican idioms are included. Nonetheless, a fine, useful contribution. (Fiction. 8-12)"
Publishers Weekly
This touchingly realistic story explores the divided loyalties of a Hispanic basketball player who has recently moved from a poor neighborhood to a more affluent one. Initially, eighth grader Lincoln feels like a traitor when he plays ball for the predominantly white school he now attends. To make matters worse, his new coach seems to hold a grudge against both Lincoln and his former school, Franklin Junior High. As a game against Franklin approaches, tension mounts and Lincoln experiences clashes with several people, including some teammates. But he manages to have fun on the night of the big game and eventually makes peace with his friends. Once again, Soto ( Baseball in April ) masterfully conveys the Hispanic-American experience, and readers will respect Lincoln's values and good sportsmanship. Ultimately, the boy learns to adjust to a new situation and accept new challenges without compromising his individuality. Ages 8-12. (Oct.)
School Library Journal
Gr 5-7-- This light but appealing story deals with cultural differences, moving, and basketball. Eighth-grader Lincoln Mendoza and his mother have just moved from a San Francisco barrio to a wealthy, predominantly white suburb. He misses his Hispanic friends, the noise, camaraderie, and even the dirt and fights in his old neighborhood. Having made first-string on the basketball team, he finds that the coach dislikes him for no good reason. Plot development hinges on an upcoming game between his new school and the old one. As the big day approaches, Lincoln cannot decide which team he wants to win. He's not sure where he truly belongs, but the game helps to clarify this for him. Readers will easily understand the boy's dilemma. The conflicts of old vs. new and Hispanic vs. white culture are clearly delineated. So is the fact that the differences are not as great as they first appear. Lincoln is a typical adolescent: energetic, likable, moody at times, but adaptable. Other characters are less finely drawn. The coach is the stereotypical obnoxious jock. Lincoln's divorced mother works hard and tries to be a good parent. Her boyfriend Roy is a minor player but he helps Lincoln to deal with his problems. Because of its subject matter and its clear, straightforward prose, the book will be especially good for reluctant readers. A glossary of Spanish words appears at the end of the book. --Bruce Anne Shook, Mendenhall Middle School, Greensboro, NC
Word Count: 25,578
Reading Level: 4.4
Interest Level: 4-7
Accelerated Reader: reading level: 4.4 / points: 4.0 / quiz: 6943 / grade: Middle Grades
Reading Counts!: reading level:5.7 / points:6.0 / quiz:Q11189
Lexile: 750L
Guided Reading Level: S
Fountas & Pinnell: S

Lincoln is in a jam when his basketball team at his new school--where the students are rich and mostly white--faces his old team from the barrio on the boards. How can he play his best against his friends? No matter who wins, it looks like it will be lose-lose for Lincoln.

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