I first heard Paul Volponi speak at the 2006 ALAN Conference as one of the New Voices in Young Adult Literature.
I remember him being passionate about writing realistic books that would connect with reluctant readers. At the time, I was teaching English in a school for kids who had exhausted all their other public school options. Consistently throughout my fifteen year tenure in that school, over ninety per cent of my students were male struggling and reluctant readers. Many of them had been in detention. Most had intense home lives either living with their families, in foster care, or group homes. I was always on the lookout for books that would speak to them.
Paul Volponi’s books did not disappoint me. For six years Paul taught incarcerated teens on Rikers Island to read and write. He’s the real deal and has won a slew of awards for his YA novels.
Here’s a quote from his 2006 presentation: “Books for reluctant readers have to grab you around the throat in the first couple of pages and not let go.”
Paul has authored eight Young Adult novels. I’m giving away three of them. And yeah, they all grabbed me by the throat and wouldn’t let go!
Black and White
Marcus and Eddie are best friends who found the strength to break through the racial barrier. Marcus is black; Eddie is white. Stars of their school basketball team, they are true leaders who look past the stereotypes and come out on top. They are inseparable, watching each other’s backs, both on and off the basketball court. But one decision—one mistake—will change their lives forever.
Cousins Clay and Addison were like brothers, growing up together in the projects, until they were ripped apart by a family argument. When they are reunited in a drug-treatment program, they try to work out their issues like a family. But one night, one wrong decision, leaves Clay shaken and Addison dead. And in the rash of events that follow, the truth of what actually happened on the rooftop of the apartment building is caught up in a clash of politics and racial issues. Will Clay be able to rise above the lies and face the truth?
Rucker Park Setup
Rucker Park—a place where some of basketball’s greatest pro players go up against street legends. Best friends Mackey and J.R. have waited their whole lives to win the basketball tournament here. But when the day of an important game arrives, J.R. is fatally stabbed. And while Mackey didn’t wield the knife, he feels responsible. Now he has a score to settle, but the killer is watching his every move. Caught between two opposing forces, Mackey is determined to finish the final game of the Rucker Park Tournament on his own terms. The question is, can he do it?
Three winners will be chosen randomly.
1. Leave a comment by midnight EST June 25th, telling me which book you’d like to win (if you have a preference), and I’ll try to accommodate your choice.
2. If you can think of one, please leave a title to a book you’ve read that you think would engage a reluctant or struggling reader. You can still enter the contest either way:-)
Thanks for stopping by!