Mindy Hardwick's Blog

Author Mindy Hardwick Muses about Writing

Chess Rumble

on April 15, 2008

I’ve been wanting to read Chess Rumble, a young adult novel written in verse by G.Neri and illustrated by Port Townsend artist, Jesse Joshua Watson, since I heard Jesse speak at the Seattle SCBWI Fall Inside Story. Last night, after dropping off a few of the Denney Juvenile Justice Center Poetry books at the Snohomish Library, there was a copy of the book waiting for me!

The story, told in verse, is about Marcus whose sister has died and his father has left. He’s an angry kid, and is about to be kicked out of school when he meets CM, a chess master who teaches him to think about his next three moves.

I loved the book for numerous reasons.

1). The story telling structure works. As a writer, it’s a good example of how to build a character based story with a satisfying resolution. Plus, it’s told in verse and is a great example of a story told in verse.

2). The characters are real. Marcus is angry and this covers his feelings of loss. The story is about him trying to find power and self-identity. It’s a story I could easily recommend to the teens in juvie and know that they would “get” each other.

3). Similar to Chris Crutcher’s sports books dealing with troubled teens and sports, Chess is being used as a way to help Marcus find a way out of his troubles. Chess is original and works.

4). We see a positive adult character….CM who has had some trouble himself in the past, but shows up as an adult mentor who understands kids like Marcus.

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