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Secret Saturdays Hardcover – April 15, 2010

4.5 out of 5 stars 15 customer reviews

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Realistic fiction for tweens
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Editorial Reviews

From School Library Journal

Grade 5–8—Justin and Sean, both 12, live in the Red Hook projects, are half Puerto Rican and half African American, and have absentee fathers. They became friends when Sean stuck up for Justin, but now Sean is straying further from their friendship, avoiding their scheduled sleepovers, lying, and not doing as well in school. He's been getting into more and more fights when he used to advocate dissing instead of fists. Where is Sean going on Saturdays? Why isn't he telling his friends Justin, Kyle, and Vanessa? Justin heads up the squad to find out why, but with more drama than action, and readers may not care. Justin worries, on more than one occasion, that because he's so concerned about Sean people are going to think he's gay. There's also the possibility that Sean's dad is gay—Justin's reasoning is that he sends Sean shiny trinkets from Puerto Rico. He also inaccurately portrays his cousin as gay because he dresses up in women's clothes and wants to be called Vicky. While these fallacies go unaddressed, Maldonado does explore what it means to be a friend, the nature of privacy, and how difficult it is for boys to talk with one another. With so few books out for urban middle school boys of color besides the "Bluford" series (Townsend), this book, with all its flaws, may still be a draw for some readers. The cover, type size, and format, with cool font and a photo at the head of each chapter, will attract reluctant readers, but the content may not sustain them.—Amy Cheney, Alameda County Library, Oakland, CA
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From Booklist

Dissing is like boxing, Justin thinks—except you fight with words instead of fists. The best disser around is Sean, who is not only mad popular but also Justin’s best friend. They are so tight, in fact, that the other kids call them twins: both are half black and half Puerto Rican, completely obsessed by hip-hop, and love to freestyle rap with each other. But now Justin is worried because something is happening to Sean. His disses are turning vicious, his grades are suffering, and he is retreating behind a wall of silence and secrets. Could it have something to do with the unexplained, out-of-town trips he and his mother are making? Justin is determined to find out. Maldonado’s first novel—set in Brooklyn’s Red Hook Housing Projects, one of the most dangerous neighborhoods in New York—is notable for its viscerally authentic treatment of setting. Though occasionally didactic and a bit programmatic, its voice—Justin’s first-person vernacular—is infectiously readable, and its characters are sympathetically and memorably realized. Grades 6-9. --Michael Cart
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Product Details

  • Age Range: 12 and up
  • Grade Level: 7 and up
  • Lexile Measure: HL580L (What's this?)
  • Hardcover: 208 pages
  • Publisher: G.P. Putnam's Sons Books for Young Readers (April 15, 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0399251588
  • ISBN-13: 978-0399251580
  • Product Dimensions: 5.9 x 0.8 x 8.6 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 12.8 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (15 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #675,429 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover
I've been reading this book to a psychotherapy group for 'tween/early teen-aged children and their parents/caregivers, with amazingly positive results. Kids and adults connect with the story in so many great ways, and there's never enough time for follow-up discussion. The kids have told me that the book is their favorite thing about the group, even though we also have pizza--and some of the parents say they think it should be made into a movie!
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Format: Hardcover
This is not a story of fiction!

I thoroughly enjoyed this story and I am an adult! Maldonado gets into the heart and mind of our youth today; especially our black and brown boys. Secret Saturday's is gripping, dynamic and stunningly real in describing the life in an inner city neighborhood projects, family and going to school.
Justin and Sean reveal to the reader just what is in the mind and heart of a boy of color: How these boys DO listen to their parents, DO want stability in their lives and DO cherish friendships. Maldonado does an excellent job in keeping the descriptions of the settings in the story so real - it is very evident that Maldonado lived in the very same community he is writing about.

Secret Saturday's reveals the inner struggle of our boys of color from school, home, relationships and themselves. This book is near to my heart as Maldonado poignantly delivers a very clear message: our black and brown boys want BOTH parents at home! NO EXCECTPIONS!

I strongly suggest this book to our young brown and black boys as required reading, to open up dialogue and feelings. This story has no profanity - which proves that a wonderful, dynamic message can be delivered without the use of vulgar language or sex! Rap is used here and relays an old but forgotten message; there is a story in Rap that does NOT revolve around sex and drugs! Well Done! This book goes on my personal book shelf as well as my preferred reading list for single mothers of color! Please hurry up and write the next one!
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Format: Hardcover
Justin and Sean have been friends forever. Sean has always had Justin's back. Instead of fighting with fists, Sean has always fought with words. Lately something has been bothering Sean. Lately his dissing has become mean and hateful. He has begun using his fists. Justin, Vanessa and Kyle are concerned. Then Justin and Kyle notice Sean and his mother sneaking out at night and no one knows where they are going or why. Could this be the reason Sean has changed?

Torrey Maldonado has crafted characters that are right on target. By this I mean they are very believable. As a teacher I see similar behavior all the time. I've never taught in the type of school Maldonado has created for his characters. I know they exist in larger areas around me. I believe this is a book that should be in every school. We have a bully program and I will be recommending it to those in charge of the program. I am going to promote this book to all of my fellow teachers and my students. This is one that must be read. It has a message that is so important to our youth today.
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I counsel children who've experienced trauma in the form of domestic violence, community violence and abuse. This book was amazingly helpful in aiding me in connecting with a Latino teenager I'm working with who has had several forms of trauma including gang involvement/recruitment. He really connected with the characters in the book and it peaked his interested in reading. Thank you Torrey Maldonado- please write more!!
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Format: Paperback
In the book "Secret Saturdays" by Torrey Maldonado published by Puffin in April 12, 2012, Sean and Justin, the two main characters have been best friends ever since they were little kids. Growing up in one of the toughest neighborhoods in New York. Sean and Justin are both young teenagers, but Sean is Hispanic and has to deal with racial issues. Sean has been fighting a lot in school and out of school lately and Justin and Sean's friends are very concerned about. People have been making fun of Sean for not living with his dad, but usually Sean has been fighting back with words, now Sean is fighting back with his fists. Sean has been going away a lot lately with his mother and Justin is starting to get very concerned about Sean. Sean has been getting more offensive and has been starting fist fights and hanging out with bad kids and has been in hanging in the worst part of neighborhood.
Justin finds out near the middle of the book that Sean has been going to see his dad in Puerto Rico a lot lately. Turns out Sean's dad is in prison for who knows what. Justin figures out the reason why Sean is being defensive. Kids are picking on Sean for not living or some kids think Sean doesn't have a father. No one would like their father in jail in Puerto Rico. Justin finally realizes that he has to stand up for Sean. The theme of this story is to always stick up for someone.
I like this book because it can relate to the fights teenagers have now a days. It also can relate to the real world and how people are still racist and people still have to deal with racial issues. I believe the author, Maldonado was trying to tell people to try to stop the racial comments. I would recommend this book to upper levels in Middle school and all levels in High school. It has violence and some language that might not be recommended to kids under 12.
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