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Airball: my life in briefs

by Harkrader


Airball : My Life in Briefs
     by Harkrader, L. D.

Publishers Weekly :

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Moving as fluidly as a basketball superstar in action, this big-hearted first novel is set in a Kansas town renowned as the home of Brett McGrew, now a famous NBA player. Though he has no apparent athletic ability, narrator Kirby Nickel joins the seventh-grade basketball team in hopes of finally crossing paths with McGrew, whose jersey number is being retired in a ceremony to which the team has been invited. Meeting this luminary has been a life-long dream of Kirby's; he is convinced that McGrew, who was a friend of the boy's mother in high school, is his father. As farfetched as the premise sounds, Kirby's sincerity and conviction—and the clues he uncovers—lend his theory pleasing plausibility. But in order to attend the event honoring McGrew, the seventh-grade team must turn its record around (they haven't won a game in three years). The gruff coach solemnly gives each player a "Stealth Warm-up Suit," allegedly developed by the Marine Corps (and designed to help players run faster and jump higher), announcing that, "for those who don't have what it takes to control the technology, the uniforms... are invisible." Some funny scenes follow as the kids proceed to practice—and eventually win every game—dressed only in their underwear. Kirby's encounter with McGrew leads to an unexpected, satisfyingly sentimental finale. Even non-basketball fans will savor the on-court action and will cheer loudly for these determined players, especially endearingly ingenuous Kirby. Ages 8-12. (Oct.)

Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

distributed by Syndetics Solutions, LLC.:
Airball : My Life in Briefs
     by Harkrader, L. D.

School Library Journal :

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Gr 5-7–Airball is a quirky combination of The Mighty Ducks meets “Captain Underpants” with a sideline story involving the search for a biological father. An untalented group of seventh-grade boys gets the chance to meet its small Kansas town's basketball hero when his jersey is retired at a University of Kansas game. Fearful of being embarrassed by their poor playing, the school board refuses to let the team go unless it starts winning its games. To improve the boys' concentration, Coach tapes over the windows and makes the boys practice in their underwear. His strategy works, but not enough to win while wearing uniforms. Geeky team captain Kirby Nickel convinces his teammates at their first halftime to play in their briefs. They do, they win, and continue to do so throughout the story. Kirby's real goal is to convince the famous NBA player that he is, in fact, Kirby's father. The boy has amassed a drawer of “evidence” that points toward his conclusion. Though unrealistic on several fronts, the story is enjoyable, including the somewhat predictable Hollywood ending. Kirby finds the sought-after identity of his dad, but it's not who he thought it was. The team does well and starts a nationwide trend in underwear practices. The theme will likely provide the hook to entice middle-grade readers.–Debbie Whitbeck, West Ottawa Public Schools, Holland, MI

Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

distributed by Syndetics Solutions, LLC.:
Airball : My Life in Briefs
     by Harkrader, L. D.

BookList :

From BookList, September 1, 2005, Copyright © American Library Association. Used with permission.

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Gr. 4-7. Kirby Nickel, who secretly believes that hometown hero and basketball superstar Brett McGrew is his father, goes out for the seventh-grade team in order to meet McGrew at the end of the season. From the grandmother who raised Kirby to the hostile school board president to his inscrutable coach, everyone in his small Kansas town is mad about basketball. But when Coach distributes invisible uniforms for the team to wear at practice, Kirby and his teammates wonder what kind of madness drives the man. This fresh, first-person novel will have readers laughing at times, feeling Kirby's pain at others, and moved at the end. The revelation of Kirby's paternity will not surprise those readers who care to figure it out, but this mystery never was the point of the story. Harkrader offers an amusing, wholly affectionate portrayal of a small-town community's devotion to basketball and of a klutzy kid's success on the court in spite of himself. An entertaining first novel.
CarolynPhelan.

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