A basketball-loving girl makes a wish to never miss a basket in this charming middle grade novel that pushes girl power to the max!
Lizzy Trudeaux loves basketball. She doesn’t have much by way of money, but she has access to the community court, a worn ball named Ginger, and she practices constantly. After fighting to join the boy’s team at her school, Lizzy is finally given the opportunity to show off her hard-earned skills.
When she answers what she believes is another bill collecting phone call, Lizzy receives a magical wish: the ability to sink every shot. Pure Swish. Now eviscerating the competition in the boy’s league is small potatoes—she has the skills to dominate in the NBA. With the help of her BFF Toby and some viral video action, Lizzy goes all the way to the Philadelphia Bells’ starting lineup, making history and taking names. Then, just as she’s about to go face to face with her hero, the best player on the planet, things begin to fall apart. But Lizzy isn’t a quitter and she’ll play her hardest for the love of the game.
They said it’d never happen, that I was crazy to even dream it. But there I was under the bright lights at the Mack Center, surrounded by twenty thousand screaming fans, millions more watching at home. And hunched beside me, so close I could see the vein flickering in his temple, the hole where his diamond earring would go, the individual sweat droplets forming on his shiny forehead: the most famous athlete in the world, the guy on my freaking cereal box—Sidney Rayne.
“You okay?” I asked him. “How you holdin’ up?”
He chomped his gum, smirking.
“I’m worried about you, man. You look nervous. You always this sweaty?”
He peeked up at the scoreboard.
They were up one.
5.7 seconds left.
“I let you have that last one,” I said.
“More fun when the pressure’s on.” I diagrammed the final play on my palm, like we did at the playground. “So here’s me,” I said. “Right here. That’s you. What’s gonna happen is I’m gonna catch the ball, right over here, I’m gonna start—”
“Surprise me,” he said.
He winked. “More fun that way.”
It was actually hard to hear him. The crowd was chanting my name.
LIZ-ZY LE-GEND (clap clap clap-clap-clap).
LIZ-ZY LE-GEND (clap clap clap-clap-clap).
“Listen,” I said, leaning closer now, shoulder to shoulder, “in case I don’t get another chance, I just wanna say—”
“Save it, rook.”
“Nah, man, please, just let me say this.” I was surprised to find myself getting choked up. “I had your poster on my wall growing up—you know, the one with your legs pulled way up high, looks like you’re flying? I used to look up every night before bed and I’d think: Man, Rayne’s a punk. If I could just get one shot at him . . .”
“Took me a while,” I said, reknotting my braid, “longer than I expected. But here I am, and here you are. And I just wanna say—”
“Don’t say nothin’, rook. Just show me what you got.”
He was right. There was nothin’ left to say. What happened next, we both knew, would outlive us both. It was a defining moment. The kind every baller lives for.
I caught the ball just outside the arc. I started right, got him leaning . . . then “drew the curtain.” I pulled the ball hard across my body, the famous Trudeaux crossover.
Three. I pulled up at the foul line.
Two. I lifted the rock.
One. A picture-perfect release, wrist tipped down like the head of a swan.
The ball hit the front of the rim, skipped forward, kissed the backboard, hit the front of the rim again, toilet-bowled around twice, sank 99 percent of the way in, then, somehow, at the last instant . . . spun out.
Matthew Ross Smith is an author, musician, and writing professor from Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. For more, including animated writing tutorials you can share with your students, visit him at Matthew-Ross-Smith.com.
"The narrative, broken into four "Quarters," takes place in the not-too-distant past, with Lizzy narrating engagingly from the present. It's ludicrous—and a whole lot of fun . . . an enjoyable sports fantasy"
– Kirkus Reviews, October 1, 2018
"the banter is fast and sassy, and chapter inserts in which myriad voices breathlessly create her legend are funny and believable. This sports fantasy will give middle-graders something to dream about while waiting for the cell to ping."
"Hand to the kids who can’t stop arguing over Steph versus LeBron"
"An entertaining story with a positive message about girls in sports."
– School Library Journal
"This is a heartwarming book that shows readers more than one side of basketball. Readers will fall in love with Lizzy’s sidekick/best friend Toby and his attempts to be her “agent.” A great addition to any middle school sports section!"