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Kick, by Walter Dean Myers, & Ross Workman

March 29, 2013

Bibliographic Information (APA): Myers, Walter Dean, & Ross Workman (2011). Kick. Harper Teen: New York

Category: Urban Fiction

Subcategories: Realistic Fiction

Descriptive Summary: Kevin Johnson is picked up by police when he crashes a car he stole into a lamppost. Both he and Christy, a girl the same age as Kevin in the passenger seat next to him, will not co-operate with the investigation that follows so Kevin is arrested. Police officer, Sergeant Jerry Brown, takes a special interest in Kevin’s case because Kevin’s father was a police officer who was killed in the line of duty. Brown doesn’t want to see a dead police officer’s 13-year old go to jail for grand theft auto, kidnapping, destruction of property, and giving false testimony. Officer Brown can try and help, but Kevin needs to decide if he can trust Officer Brown enough to tell him the truth about what happened, before it’s too late and Kevin is convicted of serious felonies. The story that unfolds is alternately narrated from the voice of Kevin, and Officer Brown.

Book Talking Hooks: Kick is a good example of a story that deals with real-life issues such as telling the truth, and accepting the consequences of our actions, but it is also compassionate and hopeful (Myers & Workman, 2011, p. 8). Officer Brown does not automatically assume that Kevin is a criminal, even though all the evidence at the scene of the accident would suggest that. Kick is about looking past stereotypes and past first appearances (Myers & Workman, 2011, p 16, & 146). The book also tells a valuable story about trust. Kevin will not tell the police what really happened because he does not want to get a friend into trouble, but sometimes, being able to see when someone else needs to accept responsibility and personal accountability is also a part of the process (Myers & Workman, 2011, p. 53 & 84).

Evaluative Comments: 3/5. Kick also strikes a strong balance between the alternating voices of Sergeant Brown’s voice and Kevin Jonhson’s. It highlights the importance of remembering that there are always two sides to any story, and it is important to listen to both before passing judgment on a situation. It’s very easy to get caught up in your perspective, and not even pause to think about someone else’s.

The pace of the book changes intermittently whenever Kevin is playing in one of the soccer matches that he enjoys so much (Myers & Workman, 2011, p. 17, 45, 125, & 189). This brings the reader back to the happier and lighter side of life which can often get forgotten when things are a little tough, and the change in pace is a welcome break from the sobering situation Kevin finds himself in when he is off the soccer field.

Readers’ Advisory Notes: Kick has an interchangeable mix of pace with an intricate plot and a look at serious issues such as juvenile misdemeanours and behavioural problems. Kevin Johnson seems very angst-filled at times, but not without hope and empathy, making him a likeable and relatable character for a young reader (Myers & Workman, 2011, p. 89 & 164). Walter Dean Myers’ other works address similar types of real-life, gritty situations that make for gripping stories. Fans of Kick might like to try some of Myers’ other works like Fallen Angels (a particularly controversial work), Bad Boy – A Memoir, or Monster. The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian by Sherman Alexie is also a good connection choice for this genre, because it touches upon similar struggles and issues of young adults, especially boys coming from disadvantaged circumstances.

Reason for Inclusion: Walter Dean Myers is a famous bestselling author with a lot of successful novels in young adult literature. He has won the Printz Award for Excellence in Young Adult Literature in 2000, as well as winning the Coretta Scott King Award for African American Literature five times (along with four Corretta Scott King Honors), and many other short lists and awards. As an author, Myers comes highly recommended, so Kick seemed a good pick for this genre as it is based in an urban setting. Kirkus Reviews appears justified in saying that Myers is, “arguably one of the most important writers of children’s books of our age” (Walter Dean Myers, “Reviews and Awards,” 2013).

Specifically, Kick was written in partnership with a teen fan of Myers, Ross Workman. This creates a unique perspective and an interesting, realistic, and young voice that many other young adult novels might lack (although they may be interesting for other reasons). The chapters are of a manageable length, and the style is young and quick to read.

Suggested Audience: Kick is a good book for teenagers from ages 12 to 18 in terms of its length and vocabulary. Given that Walter Dean Myers wrote the book in partnership with teen fan called Ross Workman, this is an inspirational choice for any teen that wants to be a writer as well. Teens interested in soccer might also find this story elements appealing.

References

Walter Dean Myers. (2013). “Reviews and Awards.” Retrieved from http://www.walterdeanmyers.net/reviews.html

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