--Delia loves Double Dutch jump roping; she's good enough at it to participate in the world championships being held in her home city of Cincinnati. But Delia has an embarrassing secret that may jeopardize her place on the team: she can't read. She copes in school by relying on her memory, renting videos, doing projects that don't require writing, and behaving well enough not to be noticed.
Her friend Randy has a secret, too. His father has been gone for weeks. Has he deserted his son just like Randy's mother deserted them? When the fearsome Tolliver twins, Tabu and Titan, arrive in the eighth grade, the threat of violence puts everyone on edge. The three interwoven stories heat up like the weather.
Draper tackles tough problems and explores adolescent concerns. What the author does best is create vibrant, engaging characters with unique voices. While these eighth graders nay be as tough as their problems, they are also are much more complex: sensitive, funny, enthusiastic, and real. Draper adeptly paints a convincing portrayal of how young people think, act, feel and interact with one another.
School Library Journal, June 2002
--Delia is an intelligent creative, eighth-grade student with a secret. Her friend Randy also has a secret: he has not heard from his father, he's running out of money and food, and he's afraid to tell anyone. The details and play-by play of the Double Dutch practices and contests provide the core around which the rest of the story develops.
Several other issues are addressed along the way, and are dealt with nicely by the cast of supporting characters. Delia's friend tells fantastic, outlandish stories about herself and her life so earnestly that even her friends are sometimes unable to know when she is telling the truth. The Tolliver twins' threatening demeanor and attitude mask a fear of lass and separation that they manage to overcome heroically during a devastating tornado that hits their school. Even Delia and Tandy's more serious problems have happy, though not perfect, conclusions. Delia and her friends are delightful, and the reader is rooting for them all the way. A fast-paced, multi-layered story.
Kirkus, June 2002
-- Eighth-grader Delia may be a star on a Cincinnati Double Dutch team, but she can't read. Thanks to her friends, her excellent memory, and extra-credit projects, she's managed to conceal her secret. Her sweet, thoughtful classmate Randy also has a secret--his father has disappeared, and Randy's been on his own for weeks. Twin students, suspected of plotting against the school, pose another worry. The exciting jump-rope action is constant, and each storyline explores a different side of fear. Draper raises provocative questions about mass hysteria and prejudice, especially in the students' reactions to the angry twins. And she sharply articulates how anxiety seeps in and overpowers "like smoke." Teens will like the high-spirited, authentic dialogue, the honest look at tough issues, and the team workout scenes that show how sports can transform young lives.
Booklist, September 2002
- Notable Social Studies Trade Book for Young People--Children's Book Council
- One of the top ten sports books for young adults for 2003--ALA
- Best of the Best for 2004
- Sunshine State Young Reader's Award for 2006