Jackie's Reviews > Crash

Crash by Jerry Spinelli
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's review
Apr 04, 11

really liked it
bookshelves: bullies, children-fiction, football, caudill-2002, sports, school
Read on April 04, 2011

John "Crash" Coogan has always been strong, fast, and athletic...and he has always thought his neighbor, Penn Webb, was odd, quirky, and unnaturally optimistic. Entering 7th grade, Crash is the man, the football hero, and a bully, too, especially when teamed with friend Mike DeLuca. They mercilessly pick on Penn.

Crash and his 5th grade sister, Abby love their grandfather, Scooter and when he comes to stay for good, they are thrilled. Scooter comes to his football games while his workaholic parents can't find the time. Scooter and Penn's older parents hit it off, partly because they too come to the games. You see, Webb is a cheerleader. Penn is also non-violent, Quaker, and an environmentalist, just like sister Abby.

Penn adores his great-grandfather who won the Penn Relay Races many, many years ago. And just like Abby and Crash he adores his great-grandfather and wants him to be proud of him. He starts to practice and train for the Penn Races, yet Crash knows that no one, especially Penn, could ever beat him in a race. Crash is the fastest around.

When his beloved Scooter suffers a stroke, though, Crash's outlook on life changes, as he sees caring from Penn and his family come shining through, even though Penn has been the butt of Crash's bullying. Would it be so bad if Penn did make the Race team? Can Crash find it in his heart to nudge him to victory? Could Crash see Penn as a friend, an ally, a human being worth knowing?

This coming-of-age story of about maturing and friendship is one of Spinell's most thought-provoking ones. Even though the differences are evident, a bond can be formed with compassion and honesty.

Used for Hiawatha School Book Talk: April, 2011.

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