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The Cruisers
Book
2010
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Trade Reviews

  Booklist Review

*Starred Review* Though it's a rather slim novel, the first in a presumed series, Myers' latest is a finely crafted look at smart, urban underachievers. Eighth-grader Zander Scott and his friends are known as the Cruisers in their Harlem school for gifted and talented kids, primarily for being fine with Cs and not into that heavy competition thing. They've also started an unofficial newspaper, The Cruiser, that isn't explicitly designed to ruffle the school administration's feathers but has a knack for it anyway. A project on the Civil War splits the class into Union and Confederate sympathizers, and the Cruisers are tasked with trying to mediate a peace. Tempers flare as the school (perhaps unrealistically) allows the project to progress a bit too far, but that gives the kids a chance to get creative in their responses to racial tensions. Anytime Myers steps to the plate, you know there's a chance he'll hit it out of the park. Although this book isn't the kind of towering shot he sometimes delivers, he legs it out by doing all the little things right: fleet pacing, a spot-on voice, good characters, great dialogue, smart ideas, and an unusual story that can maneuver whip-quick from light to heavy and right back again. An edifying book about wise kids stretching themselves without the sort of didacticism young readers are so good at sniffing out.--Chipman, Ian Copyright 2010 Booklist

  Kirkus Review

In the first volume of a planned quartet, Myers introduces eighth graders Zander, LaShonda, Bobbi and Kambui, students at Da Vinci Academy, a middle school for the gifted and talented in Harlem, and staff of The Cruiser, an alternative to the school newspaper. The masthead on The Palette reads, "Education is a journey on the high seas of life." Zander and the Cruisers say, "We weren't on a journey, we were just cruising." But when their history teacher invents a role-playing exercise dividing students into Union versus Confederate sympathizers, with Zander and company as peace negotiators, Zander doesn't think much about it until the Confederates' editorials in The Palette turn offensive. "Black from locks to 'Boks, from dreads to Keds," Zander gets involved. Can a school newspaper print such inflammatory articles? Is it free speech? What is the proper response? A serious issue and a group of smart, likable protagonists make this an enjoyable inaugural volume, and readers will look forward to further tales of Zander and his friends as they navigate the high seasor Cs, in Zander's caseof middle-school life. (Fiction. 9-13) ]] Copyright Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.
Summary
Eighth grade is hard enough, but when you're a Cruiser, you're really put to the test. 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've hoped for.
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