by Hena Khan (Author) Sally Wern Comport (Illustrator)
From the critically acclaimed author of Amina's Voice comes the first book in an exciting new middle grade series about a fourth-grader with big dreams of basketball stardom. Fourth grader Zayd Saleem has some serious hoop dreams. He's not just going to be a professional basketball player. He's going to be a star. A legend. The first Pakistani-American kid to make it to the NBA. He knows this deep in his soul. It's his destiny. There are only a few small things in his way. For starters, Zayd's only on the D-team. (D stands for developmental, but to Zayd it's always felt like a bad grade or something.) Not to mention, he's a bit on the scrawny side, even for the fourth grade team. But his best friend Adam is on the Gold Team, and it's Zayd's dream for the two of them to play together.
His mom and dad don't get it. They want him to practice his violin way more than his jump shot. When he gets caught blowing off his violin lessons to practice, Zayd's parents lay down the ultimate punishment: he has to hang up his high tops and isn't allowed to play basketball anymore. As tryouts for the Gold Team approach, Zayd has to find the courage to stand up for himself and chase his dream.
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Gr 3-6—Fourth grader Zayd Saleem is facing challenges, both on and off the basketball court. He is torn between obeying his parents by taking violin lessons and getting ready for tryouts to be a part of the Gold Team with his best friend Adam. Zayd makes an important decision: if he skips morning violin rehearsals, he can get in twice the practice for the tryouts. After two weeks, he is discovered and in big trouble. He must somehow convince his parents that playing basketball is suitable for a Muslim boy. Bits of jovial humor from characters like Jamal, Zayd's uncle, and Naano, his grandmother, add to the lightheartedness of this straightforward tale. VERDICT A fine purchase, especially where young readers are transitioning from chapter books to longer middle grade sports fiction.—Martha Rico, El Paso ISD, TXCopyright 2018 School Library Journal, LLC Used with permission.