Eighth grade is hard enough, but when you're a Cruiser, you're really put to the test. The launch of a new middle-grade series from bestselling award-winner Walter Dean Myers.
Zander and his friends, Kambui, LaShonda, and Bobbi start their own newspaper, The Cruiser, as a means for speaking out, keeping the peace, and expressing what they believe. When the school launches a mock Civil War, Zander and his friends are forced to consider the true meaning of democracy and what it costs to stand up for a cause. The result is nothing they could have expected, and everything they could have hoped for.
Four smart but underachieving students - Zander, LaShonda, Bobbi, and Kambui - at a Harlem school for the gifted and talented star in Myers's (Sunrise over Fallujah) thought-provoking if occasionally heavy-handed first installment of the Cruisers series. Giving the quartet one last chance to shape up, the assistant principal issues them a challenge: while the other eighth graders are divided into Union and Confederate sympathizers for a study project, the Cruisers (named after an alternative newspaper they produce) are charged with negotiating peace. Tensions and tempers flare when students writing as "the Sons of the Confederacy" contribute a pro-slavery editorial to the official school paper ("I mean, there I was, black from locks to 'Boks, from dreads to Keds, but I just didn't think much on it and now it was all up in my face," thinks Zander). Through Zander's levelheaded narration and editorials mostly written by the Cruisers, Myers explores freedom of speech, the role that race and the Constitution played in the 19th-century slavery debate, the moral implications of slavery, and the effectiveness of peaceful demonstration - a lot of food for thought for a slim novel. Ages 9-12. (Aug.)
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October 31, 2010
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