Travel Team

by Mike Lupica (Author)

Travel Team
Reading Level: 6th — 7th Grade

School Library Journal

Gr 5-8-Danny is a basketball fanatic. He is smart, talented, fast, and dedicated, but short. When he fails to make the seventh-grade travel team, he also fails to follow in the footsteps of his legendary father, Richie Walker, who led his own 12-year-old team to win the nationals and whose career was tragically ended by a car accident. Danny, who lives with his warm and supportive mom, has a somewhat stilted relationship with his less-reliable father. Danny did not make the squad because of the machinations of Richie's childhood nemesis, Mr. Ross, a controlling man who is determined to build a winning team. Although this text lacks only the stage directions and music cues to make the transition to the small screen as a Hallmark special, it really is a fun book for sports fans. Danny and the others cut from the travel team predictably form their own squad, coached by his father who battles alcoholism (and another car accident!) to lead them, with Danny's leadership, to the climactic game against their arch rivals. Although the kids compare themselves to the Bad News Bears, they are strictly old-school, harkening back to Stephen W. Meader's Sparkplug of the Hornets (Harcourt, 1968; o.p.). There's even a sweetly innocent romance with a wise-beyond-her-years girl who uses IM/chat to provide Danny with support just when he needs it most. A round-ball heart-warmer.-Joel Shoemaker, Southeast Junior High School, Iowa City, IA Copyright 2004 School Library Journal, LLC Used with permission.

Publishers Weekly

Sports columnist Lupica (Red Zone) clearly shoots from the heart in this appealing novel centering on a talented basketball player. Danny, after playing for two years for the Vikings, fails to make the seventh-grade travel team because he is "too small." The team is coached by the overly intense Jeff Ross who, as a boy, was always the second-best player on the Vikings-just behind Danny's father, Richie, who led the Vikings to a World Series victory. Richie went on to become an NBA star until a car accident ended his career. Now divorced from Danny's mother, the man returns to town and offers to organize and coach a second travel team, the Warriors. Lupica thus sets the scene for on-court action, and delivers play-by-play descriptions of the team practices and games that will thrill basketball buffs. The novel's emotional pitch intensifies when Richie is seriously injured in yet another car accident, Danny takes over as coach of his team, and Ross's son, Ty, the star of the Vikings, defects from his father's team to join the Warriors. Danny's budding romance with his long-time friend Tess adds a sweet, pleasingly corny sideline to the plot, which culminates with the showdown between the rival teams. To Lupica's credit, the narrative never lingers too long on the fathers' rivalry, instead keeping the focus on Danny, his teammates and his family. The novel includes some genuinely affecting moments, especially those depicting Danny's rapport with each parent. Ages 10-up. (Nov.) Copyright 2005 Publishers Weekly Used with permission.

Review quotes

Praise for Travel Team

"In a story every bit as exciting and tear-jerking as any novel or movie in its genre - Hoosiers, Mighty Ducks, The Bad News Bears - Danny gets his chance at glory. Lupica . . . has the knowledge of the game and the lean prose to make this a taut, realistic story not just about the game but about heart, character, and family. A winner." -Kirkus Reviews

"Lupica . . . sets the scene for on-court action, and delivers play-by-play descriptions . . . that will thrill basketball buffs. Genuinely affecting." -Publishers Weekly
Mike Lupica
Mike Lupica is a NEW YORK TIMES bestselling author of several books for young readers. His NEW YORK DAILY NEWS column is syndicated nationally. Mr. Lupica lives in Connecticut with his wife and their four children. You can visit Mike Lupica at
Lexile Measure
Guided Reading Level
Philomel Books
Publication date
October 20, 2004
Texas Lone Star Reading List
Commended 2005 - 2006
Black-Eyed Susan Award
Nominee 2005 - 2006
Massachusetts Children's Book Award
Nominee 2005 - 2006
Sequoyah Book Awards
Nominee 2006 - 2007
Pennsylvania Young Reader's Choice Award
Nominee 2008 - 2008
Nevada Young Readers' Award
Nominee 2008 - 2008
Iowa Teen Award
Nominee 2008 - 2008
Flicker Tale Children's Book Award
Nominee 2009 - 2009

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