Book Review: Children’s Book

“On Point: Zayd Saleem, Chasing the Dream”

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In your lifetime, you’ve done many amazing things.

You learned to walk. Imagine how hard that was, and you did it! You learned to make words and put them into sentences, which is no easy feat, either. You know how to get to school, do math, read, and play ball. But, as in the new book “On Point” by Hena Khan, could something be holding you back from greatness?

For weeks and weeks before tryouts, Zayd Saleem practiced his shots, dribbles, and layups for a better chance at joining the best fourth-grade basketball team in the whole entire league. No kid was happier than Zayd when he finally made it — and the bonus was that his best friend, Adam, was on the team, too.

And that was great — it gave Zayd more time to hang out with Adam, and it allowed them more time to play ball. But then the basketball team started doing poorly, losing games by a lot of points. Adam was the team captain, but he began hanging out with some other, older boys who preferred football. 

Zayd was afraid that his best friend had lost interest in hoops, especially when Adam skipped basketball practice a couple of times, and that made Zayd sad. He figured the team was as good as done, but then Coach dropped a bombshell: Adam was out for awhile and Zayd was on point!

But how could that be? Zayd wasn’t sure how to tell Coach that he wasn’t ready! He wasn’t aggressive enough, or fast enough to move the ball along in play. He wasn’t nearly as good as Adam but with Adam gone, what were the choices? 

Practice, practice, practice. That was the only option, and as Zayd thought about an upcoming game, he also thought about his beloved Jamal Mamoo’s predicament: Jamal Mamoo had recently gotten engaged but everybody had an opinion about the wedding. Zayd could tell that Jamal Mamoo and Nadia Aunty were not happy about their ceremony becoming something they didn’t want. He practiced and thought, until the answer was finally clear. Was it possible that the solution for both of them was the same?

Here’s the first thought about “On Point”: though it’s based in basketball, your child doesn’t have to be a basketball fan to like it.

Indeed, author Hena Khan is careful to use correct terms in this hoops-book, but they (and other words) are quietly explained within the story itself, usually by its main character. Readers unfamiliar with b-ball are even schooled on the title’s meaning, but not in a manner that’s off-putting to kids who already know.

That’s perhaps what’s going to put this book in a youngster’s hands. What will keep it there is the story itself, which is one of tradition, confidence, and learning to lead, but it’s not a preachy message. 

All around, that makes “On Point” a truly appealing book, both for kids and for parents who want subtle lessons learned. If that’s true for your 7-to-10-year-old, then this book should do it.

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