Cover image for The Cruisers : checkmate
The Cruisers : checkmate
1st ed.
Publication Information:
New York : Scholastic, 2011.
Physical Description:
133 p. : ill. ; 20 cm.
Reading Level:
730 L Lexile
Four middle-schoolers who publish an alternative newspaper at their Harlem academy for gifted students investigate why a classmate--one of the best chess players in New York City--was caught trying to buy drugs.


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Eighth grade is hard enough, but when you're a Cruiser, you're really put to the test.

In the second book of The Cruisers series, the term "gifted and talented" takes on a whole new meaning for Zander and his crew, a group of misfits who attend Da Vinci Academy, a school in Harlem for only the brightest kids. Their friend Sidney Aronofsky is considered one of the best chess players in the city. When Sidney is arrested for trying to buy drugs, it comes as a shock to those who know him, especially the Cruisers. Sidney loves chess, but the pressure never lets up, and he wants out. the kids' school newspaper, The Cruiser - and Sidney's passion for coded messages-may be the only outlet they have for expressing themselves in the face of tough decisions that could change them forever. With piercing insight, acclaimed author Walter Deam Myers gives middle school boys and girls stories to call their own.

Author Notes

Walter Dean Myers was born on August 12, 1937 in Martinsberg, West Virginia. When he was three years old, his mother died and his father sent him to live with Herbert and Florence Dean in Harlem, New York. He began writing stories while in his teens. He dropped out of high school and enlisted in the Army at the age of 17. After completing his army service, he took a construction job and continued to write.

He entered and won a 1969 contest sponsored by the Council on Interracial Books for Children, which led to the publication of his first book, Where Does the Day Go? During his lifetime, he wrote more than 100 fiction and nonfiction books for children and young adults. His works include Fallen Angels, Bad Boy, Darius and Twig, Scorpions, Lockdown, Sunrise Over Fallujah, Invasion, Juba!, and On a Clear Day. He also collaborated with his son Christopher, an artist, on a number of picture books for young readers including We Are America: A Tribute from the Heart and Harlem, which received a Caldecott Honor Award, as well as the teen novel Autobiography of My Dead Brother.

He was the winner of the first-ever Michael L. Printz Award for Monster, the first recipient of the Coretta Scott King-Virginia Hamilton Award for Lifetime Achievement, and a recipient of the Margaret A. Edwards Award for lifetime achievement in writing for young adults. He also won the Coretta Scott King Award for African American authors five times. He died on July 1, 2014, following a brief illness, at the age of 76.

(Bowker Author Biography)

Reviews 2

School Library Journal Review

Gr 5-8-After successfully diffusing racial tensions and a potentially explosive atmosphere in their school the previous year in The Cruisers, Book 1 (2010), students in a Harlem school for the gifted and talented who started their own newspaper called The Cruiser are asked to help out again in Walter Dean Myers's sequel (2011, both Scholastic). The DaVinci Academy administration needs Zander and his friends to keep their star chess player, Sidney, from being arrested a second time for trying to buy drugs. Zander, LaShonda, Kambui, and Bobbi all agree to help, but Zander can't believe that the quiet white kid he knows, the one who once stood up to bullies to try to protect him, would be dumb enough to get into drugs and sets out to prove that he must have been framed. Zander finally learns that competition and ambitious family members can place a strain on kids like Sidney who play for the school chess team. The Cruisers stage an intervention, remind themselves why drugs are such a dangerous path, and teach Sidney that it is okay to make mistakes. Kevin R. Free gives a young, but wise voice to Zander. His narration easily draws listeners through the pitfalls teenagers face in today's urban landscape. Myers expertly imbues the story with moral lessons, and demonstrates the importance of strong family ties and loyal friends. An excellent addition to tween collections in urban school and public libraries, especially where the first title is available.-Jessica Miller, New Britain Public Library, CT (c) Copyright 2011. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

Booklist Review

The group from The Cruisers (2010) is back in another quick, thoughtful, whip-smart read. When squeaky-clean classmate Sidney is caught trying to buy drugs, Zander and his friends stage an intervention to get Sidney a hotshot chess player back on track before his biggest match. Though less provocative than the first volume, this has the same breezy tone and effortless attitude and has plenty to say (always in the most natural of ways) about addicts and prison. Interludes featuring articles from the school newspaper offer additional points of view, both heartfelt and hilarious.--Kraus, Danie. Copyright 2010 Booklist



From The Cruisers: Checkmate "Hey, Big Sid, how you doing?" "I've done better," was the answer. "I heard you had a little trouble," I said. "Zander... Zander... the cops said I was facing Juvenile and then State," he said. I could hear him crying. "What's that mean?" "It means I could go to juvenile jail until i'm eighteen and then get switched to a regular prison," he said. "God, man, I'm really scared. I'm really scared. I didn't think any of this would happen. I really didn't." "Sidney, you have friends, dude." "You think I can get off?" "Yeah, look, The Cruisers are having a meeting and we'd like to invite you." "Other people know about this?" "Sort of... but that's good," I said, thinking as fast as I cold. "The important thing is to get you out of trouble. Do your parents know?" "Yeah." "Oh." "They went to send me to Europe or Siberia or whatever." Excerpted from Checkmate by Walter Dean Myers All rights reserved by the original copyright owners. Excerpts are provided for display purposes only and may not be reproduced, reprinted or distributed without the written permission of the publisher.