It's Jumper's first year at Langston Hughes Middle School, but he's right in the middle of things already.
Summer is over, baseball camp is behind him, and Jumper's in the Sixth Grade at Langston Hughes Middle School in Harlem, just a block from home. Best of all, he's got his friends from last summer to hang with. His best friend Kelvin, and Nia, Dakota, Sabrina, Juston, Eddie, Lilli, Callie, and even Nia's brother Marcus, who'd made Jumper's life miserable last summer till they learned to work together.
It looks like it's gonna be a good year. Mr. Wright, the school security guard, is going to coach a boys' basketball team, and Miss King will coach a girls' team. They'll have to play outdoors till the gym floor is fixed, but they'll still have ball teams.
And at the same time that she makes the announcement about the ball teams, Principal Young makes another one-student council elections are coming up October 1st, and every class will elect a class representative. Candidates are expected to have slogans, platforms, posters, and everything else that goes into a real campaign.
At lunch, Jumper, Kelvin and the rest sit together to talk about the election. "We need someone who's a leader," said Eddie.
"Oh, come on," said Nia, "it's just a popularity contest. The person with the most friends wins."
Jumper said slowly, "I'd like to run. I'm a leader and I'm good at listening."
"Right on!" said Kelvin. "I think Jumper should run. He's smart. He's got good ideas. He's a good friend, and he works hard."
"Hold on," Nia broke in. "I have good ideas too, and lots of friends. So I'm definitely running!"
"So am I," Jumper shouted back at her. And right then and there the party lines were drawn-the boys against the girls.
In basketball and in student council elections, there were two teams, the boys' team, and the girls'. How would it all end up? Would the sixth graders decide to go with "Hi, I'm Nia, vote for mea." Or with "Jump up for Jumper"? And what will happen when the girls challenge the boys to a basketball game to see who the best players at Langston Hughes really are?
This booktalk was written by university professor, librarian and booktalking expert Joni Richards Bodart.