Double Dutch by Sharon Draper

Double Dutch

Sharon Draper, Author

Atheneum Books, YA Fiction, 2003

Suitable for: Grades 5 to 9

Themes:  Dyslexia, Bullies, Friendship, Secrets, Sportsmanship

Synopsis:  Three eighth-grade friends prepare for the International Double Dutch Championship jump rope competition  to be held in their hometown, Cincinnati.  Delia, who is the main character, loves Double Dutch.  She is the fastest and best jumper on her team, and  has a shot at the championship.  But, Delia, has a secret she has kept from everyone, including her mother.   She can’t read.  In order to compete, she must pass the state proficiency tests.  This could jeopardize her chance to participate in the competition.  Even her best friend and team member, Yolanda, “Yo Yo” doesn’t know for a while.  Yo Yo, specializes in telling very tall tales, and no one can believes a word she says — she’s the comic relief in the story.

Delia isn’t the only person with a secret.  Randy, whose father is a truck driver, has been missing for weeks.  Randy is close to his Dad and can’t understand why he can’t reach him.  Randy assists the Double Dutch coach, Bomani, and helps with practices — a great distraction for Randy.  He also has a crush on Delia.  Randy is running out of money to pay the rent and electricity.   He doesn’t have enough to buy food.  He’s afraid to tell anyone because he’s doesn’t want to be put into a foster home.  He always makes excuses to Delia about his dad, but deep inside he’s scared and worried.

One thing is for sure, all three friends share a fear of the new Tolliver Twins, the school  bullies.  Especially Yo Yo, who is shoved into a locker when the Tolliver’s pass her in the hall.  They dress in black, wear skull caps, only interact with each other and angrily storm the halls.  They seem to follow Yo Yo around at Double Dutch meets and practices.  Out of fear, she spreads a rumor that the Tolliver twins are going to blow up the school.  Even the teacher’s are intimidated when the twin’s mother goes onto a television program and asks for help for her sons.   This causes a stir at the middle school.  Will there be violence?

What I like about this book This is a good novel for 6th graders, and not too young for eighth graders.  There are no inappropriate scenes and the language is clean.  Author Sharon Draper has skillfully woven together the lives of three middle grade students and all the angst that accompanies their drama-filled teenage years.  She has created a diverse group of characters, a great theme about friendships, and a strong plot with a few twists and turns.  I enjoyed reading Double Dutch, because I used to jump it as a girl.  But not at the competitive level of the characters in the book.  I was amazed at what athletic skill, talent and focus is required of its jumpers.  This book was a great read and will certainly appeal to middle grade girls.

Sharon Draper has also won the Coretta Scott King/John Steptoe Award for New Talent for Fears of a Tiger.  She won the Coretta Scott King Literary Award for her novels Copper Sun, and  Forged by Fire, and the Coretta Scott King Author Honor for The Battle of Jericho.  For more information about all the books she’s published, resources, activities, interviews and information on school visits, click here to visit Draper’s website.  I reviewed Draper’s latest novel, Out of My Mind,  Jan. 23, 2012, and Copper Sun on Mar. 12, 2012.

About Patricia Tiltonhttps://childrensbooksheal.wordpress.comI want "Children's Books Heal" to be a resource for parents, grandparents, teachers and school counselors. My goal is to share books on a wide range of topics that have a healing impact on children who are facing challenges in their lives. If you are looking for good books on grief, autism, visual and hearing impairments, special needs, diversity, bullying, military families and social justice issues, you've come to the right place. I also share books that encourage art, imagination and creativity. I am always searching for those special gems to share with you. If you have a suggestion, please let me know.

30 thoughts on “Double Dutch by Sharon Draper

  1. That sounds like a super read, Pat. There’s loads going on to keep the reader interested. Thanks for sharing!

    • Catherine, it is a fun read. But realistically shows the Middle Grade issues. I also like that is shows there are dyslexic kids wjp slip through the cracks pretending they can read and faking it through school.

    • Michlle, Sharon is one of my favorite authors. She lives in Cincinnati, less than an hour from me. She is very gracious and so devoted to kids. My favorite Draper books so far ar Out of My Mind and Copper Sun. This book was a fun book — more MG.

  2. Sounds like a book with lots of plot twists and turns that will keep kids engaged. We’ll add this one to our tween/teen section. Thanks for letting the world know about it.

    • Craig, see it as a great middle grade book. I enjoyed reading it. Sharon Draper is one of my favorite YA and MG authors. You should check out her blog and see what she writes.

  3. As a young boy, I used to play with the girls that did double dutch. That was before I realized I was gay. I always enjoyed playing more with the girls than with the boys. This looks like a good book.

    • Michael, it is a good book. There are boys who jump double dutch in competitions. I hadn’t realized what a challenging sport it is. It involves so much concentration and talent.

  4. If this book is half as intriguing as your review it will be a great read for kids this age. All the topics touched play heavily in the lives of many kids today. Sharon Draper obviously knows her audience. So huge congrats Sharon, and to you too, Patricia, for introducing her and this wonderful book to us.

    *Books for Kids – Manuscript Critiques

    • Margot, I am glad you enjoyed Sharon Draper’s novel. After reviewing your picture book on dyslexia, I was happy to find Sharon had addressed the subject as a “secret” for the middle grade age. Yes she knows her audience. I reviewed two other of her YA novels, which I linked to in my post yesterday. One about cerebral palsy and the other about slavery. Both powerful novels. Thank you for commenting.

  5. Sounds like another great book by Sharon Draper. I really enjoyed Out of My Mind–I remember I bumped it to the top of my tbr pile after your review Patricia 🙂
    Thanks again!

    • Coleen, I’m glad you liked Double Dutch — she really showed the emotions of the tween world. Draper is outstanding. I’m glad you want to read Out of My Mind — powerful book. And so, is her Copper Sun.

  6. Dyslexia is a hard thing. I see how my little sister has trouble reading because of it. This book has a good message because I think more kids should know about dyslexia so they understand it more.

    • Erik, I’m glad you found the book helpful. After publishing a 2 picture books on dyslexia, I was happy to find on for middle grade kids. A lot of kids have dyslexia, but there are so many good teaching methods to help kids. Maybe it’s a coincidence, but I have known many people with dyslexia who are very artistic. My review of Patricia Polacco’s book “The Art of Chew,” shows Patricia had a learning disability — and I would guess it was dyslexia. Her art teacher explains to her that “when you see a word, I think you don’t see letters at all at first. I think first see the space around them. The pattern they make. No wonder your reading takes you so much time!” And then the art teacher recommends a reading specialists. Just thought you might like to hear the comment. Now she’s written and illustrated over 50 books.

    • What age is your little sister? The younger they receive help, the easier it is to learn the skills to read better – and enjoy it! I wrote a grade school rhyming book for dyslexic children., but if your sister is older, Double Dutch would be a much better fit.

      *Books for Kids – Manuscript Critiques

      • Thanks Margot. I let Erik know you commented. His sister is young. I’m going to insert the info about your rhyming books in my review of Horatio. People are always searching my blog for special books and Horatio will be reviewed by many other people. You are so thoughtful. — Pat

      • My sister is 8. She has dyslexia and some other special needs. She’s been getting a lot of help since she was real young. My mom said we can get the Horatio Humble book Ms, Tilton reviewed. It is good that people write books about things like dyslexia! Thanks! 🙂

  7. Eric, thanks for the info about your sister. It does sound like she would benefit from someone reading Horatio Humble to her. If you like, I could send you a special autographed book plate to go inside the cover. eMail me for it here:

    And give your sister a hug from me. Tell her she CAN do anything with a little help from family and others who love her.

    Margot Finke

  8. Oh my! This is a very special story and one that possibly happens everywhere.
    Love to, the above comments between Margot and Erik, she is so thoughtful and caring. What a treasure to have among us. Thankyou Pat.

  9. Pingback: “Panic” by Sharon M. Draper – Giveaway | Children's Books Heal

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