Cover image for The Cruisers : A star is born
The Cruisers : A star is born

1st ed.
Publication Information:
New York : Scholastic, 2012.
Physical Description:
160 p. ; 20 cm.
Reading Level:
810 L Lexile
Zander's play, Act Six, brings Da Vinci Academy into the spotlight, especially when LaShonda's costume designs win her an opportunity she can accept only if she is willing to leave her autistic brother and their group home behind.


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Bestselling award-winning author Walter Dean Myers is back with a new book in his acclaimed Cruisers series.

The Cruiser, an alternative newspaper published by Zander and his crew of middle school misfits, is alive and well. And now there's plenty to report on when LaShonda, one of the Cruisers, steps into the spotlight with her costume designs for an upcoming play. LaShonda's designs get rave reviews, but she soon learns that show business is filled with challenges and choices. LaShonda is forced to consider what's more important--fame, or loyalty to her autistic brother. Whether she gets a standing ovation or the curtain pulled down on her is up to LaShonda. And she can't help but wonder if the Cruisers have got her back and will be there for her whether she's center stage or waiting in the wings.

With signature humor and thought-provoking questions, Walter Dean Myers once again delivers a Cruisers novel that will keep readers at the edge of their seats, and have them applauding after the drama ends on the book's last page.

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 4

School Library Journal Review

Gr 5-8-The Cruisers-Zander Scott, LaShonda Powell, Bobbi McCall, and Kambui Owens-eighth graders working on the alternative newspaper, The Cruiser, at Harlem's Da Vinci Academy for gifted and talented students, return in Walter Dean Myers's third book (Scholastic, 2012) in the series. LaShonda is excited, having just received a scholarship to the Virginia Woolf Society Program for Young Ladies as a result of the costumes she designed for a play written by and put on by the Cruisers. Upon completion of the program, LaShonda will be eligible for further financial assistance at a prestigious college. But a problem arises-acceptance of the scholarship means being separated from her autistic brother. The primary focus of the story is on how LaShonda, with the help of her fellow Cruisers, grapples with this dilemma and tries to find an acceptable solution. As with the previous books in the series, Myers touches lightly on several serious issues, such as poverty and intolerance of Muslim attire. Some of these issues are addressed through essays, opinions, and poems that appear in The Cruiser as well as the school's official newspaper, The Palette. Catchy music begins and concludes each chapter. Depending on the circumstances, Kevin Free's narration is humorous, serious, or sarcastic. Enough background information is provided so that listeners can easily follow along if they are unfamiliar with the previous titles. An entertaining, thought-provoking, and well-paced audio presentation.-Mary Oluonye, Shaker Heights Public Library, OH (c) Copyright 2012. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

Publisher's Weekly Review

The third installment in Myers's Cruisers series follows the adventures of Zander-the creator of an alternative high school newspaper called The Cruiser-and his friend LaShonda, who recently won a scholarship because of her theatrical costume design. As high praise and opportunities for LaShonda start rolling in, she finds herself conflicted by a difficult choice she must make-whether to embrace her success or stick with her autistic brother. Narrator Kevin R. Free turns in a solid performance in this audio edition. His narration is brisk, clear, and captures the fast-paced world of DaVinci Academy. Free also proves adept at vocally differentiating the book's many characters-from the unctuous assistant principal (with crisp, over-enunciated diction) to the down-to-earth, good-humored Zander and free-willed LaShonda. Free's rendition of LaShonda is particularly impressive-he vividly renders her excitability and internal turmoil. Ages 9-12. A Scholastic Press hardcover. (Aug.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.

Kirkus Review

In the third installment of the series, Myers offers another slice of middle school life at Harlem's Da Vinci Academy for gifted and talented students. For 14-year-old LaShonda Powell, real life is a lot tougher than solving for x and y in algebra class. She's been offered a full scholarship to the Virginia Woolf Society Program for Young Ladies, thanks to her costume designs for the recent class play, and if she completes the program, she'll qualify for future college scholarships. The problem is that LaShonda lives in a group home with her autistic brother, Chris, and the two are inseparable. Narrator Zander Scott understands LaShonda's situation: "You can jump on a scholarship if you're jumping by yourself, but if you have a little brother to take care of, as LaShonda did, things get hard in a hurry." It's a tough issue for a group of middle school students who care for one another and take pride in having one another's backs. Myers has accomplished something special with this series, crafting a seemingly simple story that is really surprisingly rich, handling big themes of friendship, family, education and dreams. This fine volume easily stands on its own, but readers will look forward to the fourth book, already in the works. (Fiction. 9-13) ]] Copyright Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.

Booklist Review

This follow-up to The Cruisers (2010) and Checkmate (2011) extends one of today's smartest middle-grade series. This time out, LaShonda's bold costume designs for her friends' Shakespeare-inspired class play, Act Six, catch the attention of the New York Times, and soon she is offered a scholarship that could get her out of her group home and onto a college track. But that would mean separating from her autistic kid brother. Can the Cruisers band together to hammer out a solution? Well, of course they can, but in Myers' deft hands the plot never feels tidy or preordained. These kids feel, speak, and act in believable ways, giving the series a most welcome, naturalistic feel. Meanwhile, a handful of hard issues ranging from religious freedom to child labor are encountered via classwork and the dueling school newspapers (which, by the way, offer up a great example of passionate but polite political discourse). No monsters or aliens to speak of here, but kids will gobble it up regardless. Appended with the full and very funny Act Six. HIGH-DEMAND BACKSTORY: Five Coretta Scott King Awards, three National Book Award nominations . . . the list goes on and on. Any book by our current National Ambassador for Young People's Literature will be well-read.--Kraus, Daniel Copyright 2010 Booklist



From A Star Is Born: A Cruisers Novel "I don't want them to wear my costumes again," LaShonda said. "As far as I'm concerned, they can go on naked." "You can't do that, LaShonda Powell!" Mr. Culpepper was already turning a fifth shade of red. "There will be NO nudity involved with any students from Da Vinci!" "Then you better cancel the whole performance!" LaShonda was getting up close and personal, and Kambui was trying to get in between them. "This is . . . this is . . . the chance of a lifetime, young lady." Our assistant principal was beginning to sputter, and Kambui was practically dragging LaShonda out of the door. Bobbi McCall was in tears. Yes, tough-as-nails Bobbi was on the verge of a major boo-hoo. "What's going on?" I asked Bobbi in the hallway. "I thought LaShonda was doing great." "She was," Bobbi said. "Until they told her that if she took the scholarship they would have to separate her from her brother. No way she's doing that, Zander. And the Cruisers have to back her up!" I knew the play we were going to put on again would put the Cruisers on the map big-time, especially with all the noise about LaShonda's costumes. But if we blew it after all the press coverage they wouldn't be able to dig a hole deep enough for us to crawl in! I was getting nervous. Excerpted from A Star Is Born 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.