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Power Forward (Zayd Saleem, Chasing the…
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Power Forward (Zayd Saleem, Chasing the Dream)

by Hena Khan

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373477,241 (4.25)None
Fourth-grader Zayd yearns to play basketball on the Gold Team, but when he skips orchestra rehearsal to practice, his parents forbid anything basketball-related, and tryouts are coming soon.

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Showing 3 of 3
Fourth-grader Zayd really loves basketball and hopes to make it to the "gold team" when tryouts come along. But his parents -- especially his well-meaning Mama -- would prefer if he plays violin in advanced orchestra every day instead. Can Zayd convince his parents about his real passion for the game?

This was a great book for so many reasons. It's a quick read, which is especially good for reluctant readers. (So often, reluctant readers are interested in sports books, and many of those are thicker than the non-sports books!) The short chapters and smooth-flowing prose add to the pace. The story is about everyday stuff that kids can empathize with easily -- family commitments, sports practice, instrument rehearsal, homework, school, etc. Zayd's Pakistani-American family members are lovable and quirky from his health-nut Mama to his soaps-loving Naano (grandmother) to his goofy Jamal Mamoo (uncle). This is especially promising, given that this is the first of a series; it's easy to see why readers would want to come back to this cast of characters.

The illustrations aren't strictly necessary, but they are a nice addition, especially given how they have a comic-book-style cutout around their main focus that draws the viewer in. (I'm not sure how else to describe it; it's like the pointy spikes around "POW" but instead of words, these spiky call-outs are around people.) The characters are then drawn realistically in black and white. ( )
  sweetiegherkin | Nov 18, 2019 |
Recommended Ages: Gr. 3-6

Plot Summary: Zayd really wants to play basketball. It's his passion. But his mom really wants him to play violin. After falling off the stage at a orchestra concert, he makes a decision on a whim to skip his early morning orchestra lessons to play basketball with his friends. It's hard for him to lie, but two weeks later his mom finds out and is furious. She grounds him from basketball for two weeks -- that means no watching basketball, no playing basketball, and basketball tryouts! What will he do?

Setting:

Characters:
Zayd - never wants to fill out the food journal
Zara - sister, good at everything she's tried
Baba - dad
Mama - only feeding her family healthy food, asks Zayd to keep a food journal since he keeps getting stomach aches
Nana Abu - grandfather
Naano - gradnma, food pusher, curses in Urdu
Jamal Mamoo - "cool" uncle, Zayd loves hanging out with him, picks up Zayd from school once, brings whole family to meet a potential wife and her family, promises Zayd Air Jordans if he gains enough weight

Recurring Themes: basketball, gain/lost weight, eat healthy, Pakistani family, family, friendship, truth telling

Controversial Issues: none

Personal Thoughts: This was my favorite book by author Hena Khan so far. I thought the characters were more authentic and I liked that she spent more time showing rather than telling the reader.

Genre: realistic fiction

Pacing: medium-fast, fairly short, larger font, short book
Characters:
Frame:
Storyline:

Activity: ( )
  pigeonlover | Jun 29, 2019 |
Of all the sport fiction for middle graders I've read so far this year, this one makes the slam dunk. SIZZLE.

Zayd is a fourth-grader who dreams of becoming famous, preferrably as an NBA basketball player. But right now, he's on the D-league, which means he's going to have to move up to the gold team first. He's determined and actually has the chance to shine at the next tryouts, but his parents and their dream of him playing the violin is getting in the way. Somehow, Zayd's going to have to work things out if he wants a prayer of achieving his goals.

The author does a fantastic job at bringing Zayd and his problems across naturally, and has a real talent for getting into kids' heads. Zayd is a good boy with a big dream, and he is willing to put in the work and time to make it. His attitude and occasional slip-up are completely understandable and human. He's a lot of fun, has heart and is a joy to cheer for the whole way through.

The writing flows smoothly and at the right level for the intended audience, making this an easy read. It's not too long and the occasional illustrations make it perfect for even more reluctant readers, who'd rather hit the court than hold their nose in a book. Considering it's the beginning of a series, it will be fun to see where each book takes Zayd on his journey toward basketball dreams.

There's a wonderful balance between the basketball scenes and Zayd's everyday life. When he touches that ball, the scenes hit as a real practice. The movements, thoughts and terms are true to life and allow the reader to sink in and feel at home in the game. But this is also true of Zayd's family life. His family has Pakistani origins, which is never forced but flows with the story while keeping the cultural uniqueness in an American setting. Zayd's grandparents still carry their slight accent and influences from the culture sit in his everyday life. It's a great balance and very natural.

Fans of basketball or sports will love following Zayd as he battles to achieve his dreams not only on the court but also takes on everyday life.

I received a complimentary copy and loved reading it so much that I'm more than happy to leave my honest thoughts. ( )
  tdrecker | Jun 9, 2018 |
Showing 3 of 3
A fine purchase, especially where young readers are transitioning from chapter books to longer middle grade sports fiction.
added by sweetiegherkin | editSchool Library Journal, Martha Rico (pay site) (May 1, 2018)
 
The moral of staying true to yourself and honest with others is easily digested.

Readers will cheer for Zayd and look forward to the next volume.
added by sweetiegherkin | editKirkus Reviews (Feb 19, 2018)
 
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For Farrukh
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I've imagined lots of ways to get famous.
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(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
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