From School Library Journal
Grade 6-10 - This action-packed mystery is set at the NCAA Final Four men's basketball tournament. Eighth-graders Steven Thomas and Susan Carol Anderson are aspiring journalists and winners of the U.S. Basketball Writer's Association 14-and-under writing contest. Their prize is a trip, with press credentials and reporting responsibilities, to the Final Four in New Orleans. While exploring the Superdome, they overhear a blackmail threat leveled at Minnesota State University's star player. Threatened with a falsified transcript that would disqualify him and his team, Chip Graber is pressured to deliberately lose the final game against Duke. Stevie and Susan Carol become resourceful sleuths determined to save Chip and to expose the scandal. Throughout the story, famous basketball personalities make memorable guest appearances, including spirited sports analyst Tony Kornheiser and irrepressible commentator Dick Vitale. References to real players and coaches mingle, almost eerily, with the fictitious characters. Feinstein shares his extensive sports expertise, smoothly weaving into the tale a wealth of background information about NCAA regulations, tournament traditions, recruitment and eligibility issues, and gambling. Although the action on the court is vividly described, this story also breaks new ground for teens, focusing primarily on the influential role of media in promoting college basketball. Readers will enjoy the rivalry and chemistry between outspoken but insecure Stevie and savvy-beyond-her-years Susan Carol, and their spunky determination to get the scoop. Mystery fans will find enough suspense in this fast-paced narrative to keep them hooked. - Gerry Larson, Durham School of the Arts, NC
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Gr. 6-9. Best-selling sportswriter Feinstein joins the parade of adult authors testing the waters of children's publishing. Unlike so many show-biz celebrities turned writers, he brings plenty of craftsmanship and a kid-friendly story to the table. The setting is college basketball's Final Four, and the stars are the two teenage winners of a writing contest, Stevie Thomas and Susan Carol Anderson, whose prize is a free trip to the tournament and an opportunity to cover the games. Friction between the pair quickly turns to camaraderie when they overhear one of the players from fictional Minnesota State being coerced into throwing the title game. Feinstein makes good use of his insider's knowledge of the Final Four as the intrepid junior reporters set out to expose the scandal, ultimately weaseling themselves into the bad guys' lair in classic Hardy Boys' fashion. The premise holds together, if a bit shakily, and Feinstein keeps the action moving throughout. The draw, though, is the vivid background, complete with cameos by real-life media personalities and big-name coaches. Bill OttCopyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved