Name of Book: The Cruisers: Oh Snap!
Author: Walter Dean Myers
Audience: Grades 5-7
Summary: This is the fourth installment of the Cruiser series about Zander Scott, his friends and their budding urban middle school paper, The Cruiser. The Cruiser was named the third-best school newspaper in the city and its staff is determined to make it even better by adding photos. However, when a photo one of them takes shows that a classmate may be involved in a robbery at the mall, things get tense. What are they to do? They don’t want to rat anyone out but if they don’t fess up, they could be considered accessories to a crime.
Literary elements at work in the story: This novel is fast paced, with real characters, smart ideas, intelligent dialogue and clever banter. Myers never sinks into stereotypes or one dimensional characters which would be easy to do with this type of novel. This a perfect choice for reluctant readers.
How do the perspective on gender/race/culture/economics/ability make a difference to the story?: The focus of the story does not rely as much on race as it does on culture. The characters have typical middle school problems; academics, girls, the grand design of the universe and of course the moral dilemma of what to do about the photo.
Theological Conversation Partners: Matthew 7: 24-27. Zander and his friends have a big problem. How they solve it will rely on their foundation. Has it been built on a rock? A rock of good advice, teaching, and listening? Christ knew that life is full of wind and rain that will try to knock us off our foundation. Zander and his friends are facing just such a storm. In the end, their “house” stands firm, but it was a close call and they needed all the help they could get. Christ calls us to keep our foundations strong and to help those around us do the same. Zander and his friends are good examples of how we can do just that. It isn’t easy, but it is the only way.
Faith Talk Questions:
- Have you ever had to face a hard decision like Zander and his friends?
- If so, what did you do?
- How did Zander’s situation get so out of hand?
- What does Christ say in Matthew 7:24 – 27 about making decisions?
- Where do you feel your “house” is? Is it on a good foundation or is it a sandy one or somewhere in-between?
- What if your “house” crashes? What then?
- What if Zander didn’t make the right choice? What then?
- What is the author, Mr. Myers, telling us about how we come to our assumptions about people?
This review is written by regular contributor Janet Lloyd.