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About the Author

Joan Baueris the author of thirteen books for young readers. Joan's first novel,Squashed, won the Delacorte Prize for a First Young Adult Novel. Five novels for young adult readers have followed-Thwonk,Sticks,Rules of the Road(LA TimesBook Prize and Golden Kite),BackwaterandHope was Here(Newbery Honor Medal).The Christopher Award was given to bothHope was HereandClose to Famous,whichalsoreceived the Schneider Family Book Award. Joan is the recipient of numerous state awards voted by readers. School Library Journalsays, "When it comes to creating strong, independent, and funnycharacters, Bauer is in a class by herself." Joan Bauer lives in Brooklyn, New York.Visit her at


The author of Squashed creates a blue-collar drama about a boy's drive to win a pool tournament. Ages 8-12. (Aug.)

Gr 5-8‘Fifth-grader Mickey Vernon dreams of becoming the youth division billiards champion of his New Jersey town. The fact that his grandmother owns a pool hall allows him plenty of time to practice, but obstacles still lie in his way. The biggest one is Buck Pender, three years older than Mickey and the archetypal bruising, bullying lug of a villain. However, Mickey must also deal with the emotional trauma of his father's death. The reappearance of the mysterious pool ace, Joseph Alvarez, who was Mickey's father's best friend, also tips his world off balance. Helping the boy cope with all of these upheavals is his nerdy math-brain friend, Arlen Pepper, who provides some technical advice about the game. Predictably, Mickey wins the nine-ball tournament, despite a sprained wrist. Yet, the story's conventional plot elements are redeemed by the on-target first-person narration. Mickey is a feisty and often funny hero. Other elements of the story are also nicely balanced. For example, Alvarez could have easily been a stereotype‘he rides into town in his truck, dressed and talking like a cowboy, ready to teach young Mickey the lessons of the game (and life). Mickey's down-to-earth mother, however, treats the man like the bag of hot air that he is. Overall, the winning characterizations may make this a book to be enjoyed by kids who like pool and even some who don't.‘Todd Morning, Schaumburg Township Public Library, IL

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