SCHOOL VISITS AND SKYPE CONFERENCES

Contact Paul Volponi at pavolpo@cs.com for an author visit to your school, library, or classroom. Or bring him to your students via Skype.

I am currently doing two types of wonderful Skype conferences with classes around the country. The first is my traditional type of conference in which I tell about the background of my ALA award-winning novels (Black and White, Rikers High, The Final Four, etc.), discuss the writing process, answer questions about my work (I was a non-reader in high school), ask the students questions about themselves, and encourage students in their own writing. The second is a creative writing conference in which I actually read a single page of work by each student beforehand (be it a novel, short story, poem, play or song lyrics) and give them positive feedback during the actual conference, as well as realistic game-plan on how to get their work published in the future. This type of conference can be held with either creative writing classes or students with an interest in writing. Both types of conferences can last anywhere between 45-60 minutes depending on a school's schedule. Contact Paul for current honorariums.

Game Seven

My name is Julio Ramirez Jr. and baseball is my whole life.

Since he was ten, Julio has lived in the shadow of his famous father. Not just because Julio Senior is a pitcher for the Miami Marlins, but because he fled Cuba to play professional baseball, leaving his Julio and his mother and sister branded as the family of a traitor. Now sixteen, Julio dreams of playing for Cuba's national team–until he finds out his father's defection may destroy his chances. When he's given the opportunity to flee Cuba, he has to make the toughest choice of his life.

Can he abandon his family, just like his Papi did? Will freedom be worth the perilous journey and risking prison if he's caught? Will his Papi be waiting for him on the other shore–or, with the Marlins in the World Series against the Yankees, has Julio Senior forgotten about his son? Set against the backdrop of the Series on which everything depends, Game Seven is a suspenseful story of loyalty, survival, and baseball.

"Volponi once again delivers top-notch sports fare coupled with a deeper story of family and fidelity."Booklist

"An entertaining tale of baseball, family and loyalty."Kirkus

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Game Seven



   
 

The Final Four

Four players with one thing in common: The will to win.

Malcolm wants to get to the NBA ASAP. Roko wants to be the pride of his native Croatia. Crispin wants the girl of his dreams. And M.J. (Michael Jordan) just wants a chance.

March Madness is in full swing, and there are only four teams left in the NCAA basketball championship. The heavily favored Michigan Spartans and the underdog Troy Trojans meet in the first game in the semifinals, and it's there that the fates of Malcolm, Roko, Crispin, and M.J. intertwine. As the last moments tick down on the game clock, you'll learn how each player went from being a kid who loved to shoot hoops to a powerful force in one of the most important games of the year. Which team will leave the Superdome victorious? In the end it will come down to which players have the most skill, the most drive, and the most heart.

"Volponi nails it when it counts in this dynamic story."*Starred Review Booklist

"This gritty, realistic, and riveting novel deserves the wide audience it will no doubt attract."*Starred Review School Library Journal

"A thought-provoking discussion of the pros and cons of student athletes vs. professional college players."*Starred Review BCCB

"The Final Four serves as a reminder that the college game is played by young people, each with their own unique story. The Final Four does a terrific job of capturing the emotion of March Madness." –Coach Mike Krzyzewski (Coach K.), Duke

"This is a great story about how one sport can transcend different experiences, backgrounds, and beliefs." –Coach Jim Calhoun, Connecticut

"Inspirational." –Coach Jamie Dixon, Pittsburgh

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Homestretch



   

Rikers High

Martin Stokes could hold his own in the tough New York City neighborhood where he grew up, but that’s nothing—nothing—compared to Rikers Island. Martin’s been in the Rikers Island jail for five months and counting, locked up for a crime he didn’t even mean to commit. After his court date is delayed yet again, Martin gets caught in a razor attack between two warring inmates. Now his face will forever be marked with a jailhouse scar. But one good thing comes from this attack: Martin is transferred to a different part of Rikers where adolescent inmates are required to attend high school. There he meets a teacher who genuinely wants to help Martinturn his life around. Will he see the light, or be consumed with getting revenge on his attackers?

From a master of urban fiction comes a raw, contemporary, and wholly authentic story of high school behind bars.

This tale of education and life on the Island will keep readers locked to the page. - Kirkus

Volponi, himself a teacher on Rikers Island for six years, brings to life a believable range of teachers, COs, and inmates and portrays power, hierarchies, and race relations both outside and inside the jail walls with unflinching realism. –School Library Journal

Rare is the reader who won’t find his narrative sobering. – Booklist

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Homestretch



   

Black and White

Marcus and Eddie are the stars of Long Island City High School’s basketball team. Marcus is black and Eddie is white, but they got past all that “racial crap” and have been best friends for years. Both boys are looking forward to great futures in college basketball and are waiting to see where they’ll land their scholarships. Then one cold night, something goes wrong and they make a big mistake. Now they can’t turn back and one of them will have to pay. Told in their two voices, BLACK AND WHITE is the gripping story of two good boys who make a bad mistake. It’s also a heartbreaking look at the realities of the urban criminal justice system.

BLACK AND WHITE is the winner of the International Reading Association’s 2006 Young Adult Novel of the Year, an American Library Association Best Book Young Adult and Quick Pick (inspiring non-readers to read) Top Ten selection, and a New York City Public Library Book for the Teen Age selection. It is also a selection of the Texas Library Association for the TAYSHAS 2006-2007 high school reading list.  The work received starred reviews from Publishers Weekly, Booklist, and The Bulletin of the Center for Children’s Books.

“Teens will want to discuss the story’s layered moral ambiguities, heartbreaking choices, and ‘the line that separates black and white’.”-Booklist

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Black & White



Hurricane Song

Miles has only been living with his musician father in New Orleans for two months when Hurricane Katrina hits—and they haven’t really been getting along. His dad lives for jazz, while Miles’ first love is football. But father and son must set aside their differences when they seek refuge in the crowded Superdome. What begins as a safe haven from the storm soon turns into a nightmare as the power fails and gangs of thugs compete for turf. When his father decides to rebel, Miles must make a choice that will alter their relationship—and both of their lives—forever.

From award winning author Paul Volponi comes this tale of how low humanity can sink in desperate times and how loudly hope can sing against the howl of tragedy.

"A brilliant blend of reality and fiction, this novel hits every chord just right. If it is not the best teen book of 2008, it is certainly one of the most important." --highlighted review by VOYA

“A riveting and readable exploration of the effects of race in today’s world”.—Kirkus Reviews

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Hurricane Song



Rooftop

Addison was like the big brother Clay never had.  Separated for years by a family argument, the two cousins are finally back together at Daytop, a drug treatment program.  Clay’s parents caught him smoking pot; Addison was arrested for dealing crack. Now they’re at the same place at the same time, trying to work out their problems together.  But Addison never gets a chance.  One night he and Clay are on the rooftop of one of the buildings in the projects where Addison lives, and Addison is fatally shot--by the police--as Clay stands just a few steps away. Addison wasn’t armed.  He didn’t deserve to die. But was he completely innocent?  And what will prove more difficult for Clay-living a lie or facing the truth?  The text is an unflinching look at justice, honesty, and what it means to be a man.

ROOFTOP won an American Library Association's Best Book Young Adult and Quick Pick Award (inspiring non-readers to read). It is a selection of the Texas Library Association for the TAYSHAS high school reading list, and a New York City Library's Book for the Teen Age. Rooftop received a start review from Booklist, and is a 2006 selection of the Junior Library Guild.


"This thoughtfully crafted, deceptively simple story knits together a high-interest plot, a readable narrative crackling with street slang, and complex personal and societal issues that will engage teen readers." –Booklist

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Rooftop



Rucker Park Setup

Best friends Mackey and J.R. have waited their whole lives to win the basketball tournament at Rucker Park, where some of the sports greatest pro ballers squared off against street legends. Then the day of an important game, J.R. is fatally stabbed. Mackey didn’t wield the knife, yet he feels responsible. Now he has a score to settle, but the killer is watching his every move.
     Mackey is caught between two opposing forces, but he’s determined to finish the final game of the Rucker Park Tournament on his own terms.
     This gripping story of friendship and basketball from award-winning, critically acclaimed author Paul Volponi explores the true meaning of loyalty and greed, while powerfully exposing the painful truth that some wrongs can not be made right.


"The most demanding hoops fanatic will love the descriptions of the action, and those looking for suspense will hang in for the whodunit aspect. A slam dunk!"–Kirkus Reviews

Rucker Park Setup is an American Library Association Quick Pick winner, a Junior Library Guild and TAYSHAS reading list selection.

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Rocker Park Setup



 

Crossing Lines

Adonis is a jock. He's on the football team and he’s dating one of the prettiest girls in school. Alan is the new kid. He wears lipstick and joins the Fashion Club. Soon enough the football team is out to get him. Adonis is glad to go along with his teammates... until they come up with a dangerous plan to humiliate Alan. Now Adonis must decide whether he wants to be a guy who follows the herd or a man who does what's right. From award-winning author Paul Volponi comes this discussable and finely wrought story of bullies, victims, and the bystanders caught in between.

Volponi’s latest novel is a moving story of bullying and courage…This quick-reading, tightly constructed novel will provoke substantive questions, making it a great choice for group discussion. - Booklist

This is an effective book on a very timely topic. –VOYA

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Homestretch



 

Response

Noah and his friends go to a nearly all-white neighborhood with a plan: steal a car, sell it to a chop shop, and make some fast cash. But that never happens. Instead, Noah, a teen father, is the victim of vicious beating that leaves him with a fractured skull. Was the attacker protecting his turf, or did he target Noah just because he’s black?

Award-winning author Paul Volponi, known for his brutally honest portrayals of the moral complexities of urban life, uses alternating perspective and a range of narrative styles to give readers a fascinating and chilling insight into the timeline of a hate crime, from the first shocking blow to the jury’s final decision.

Writing in an authentic voice, Volponi balances sensitivity and rage, but his most subtle achievement is the multi-generational family drama. When Noah suddenly feels the promise of his future at the exact moment he stands at his go-nowhere fry cook job, it gives us hope that he will pass on his hard lessons to his own child. –Booklist Review.

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The Hand You're Dealt

When Huck Porter's dad suddenly dies, it feels like nothing will ever make sense again. Huck's "best friend" thinks that Huck should just get over it, the girl he likes won't give him the time of day, and his mom now works all hours at a roadside diner to make ends meet. The only thing that still makes sense for Huck is the game his dad taught him, the game they spent hours playing together: Texas Hold'em. Worse than all of that, though, is Huck's math teacher, Mr. Abbott -- a hungry card shark with an ego to match his appetite. He now wears the local poker tournament's first prize, a silver watch that Huck's dad wore proudly for three years. So Huck hatches a plan to knock Abbott off his throne and win back the watch. Only, bluffing his way into the tournament will mean lying to everyone Huck knows. But as Huck gets deeper in the tournament and starts to lose himself in the cards, he begins to wonder who he'll be when the last hand is played. Raw and gritty, Paul Volponi's novel about grief, family, and poker is an adrenaline rush that starts with a bang and doesn't let up until the final page is turned. A coming-of-age story set at a card table, The Hand You're Dealt will leave readers wondering what they would risk in a game.

A high-stakes thriller, particularly for those elusive young adult male nonreaders- School Library Journal

Fast-paced, with a riveting opening… the book has an odd quality of the fairy tale, with an unrelentingly evil villain, a fairy-godfather figure in the priest, a beautiful princess for the prom and never any doubt about the abilities of the hero-Kirkus Reviews

The writing is terse in this absorbing book that is a fine choice for boys, girls, and reluctant readers-VOYA

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The Hand You're Dealt



 

Homestretch

Gas never figured himself for a runaway. But when his mother dies in a car accident, hit head-on by a sheriff’s deputy chasing an illegal Mexican who jumped the border, Gas’ dad becomes abusive. Call it grief, call it alcoholism, whatever it is, Gas knows his dad will not be able to keep his promise to never hit him again. Without a plan, Gas hitches a ride out of state, and ends up working at a racetrack stable with a family of Mexicans—the kind of people his dad always taught him to hate, the kind of people who got his mother killed. What will Gas learn about himself and the true meaning of family? And what will Gas do when his small stature causes an unscrupulous horse trainer to promise him glory and riches as a jockey, even if he can’t ride well?

HOMESTRETCH is a quick and exciting coming of age story full of mud, blood, speed, sleaze, and danger.”—Richie Partington/Richie’s Picks.

“Volponi continues his streak of well-written novels in this simply written, coming-of-age story about a boy who learns that he cannot generalize about an entire ethnic group.” –VOYA.

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Homestretch



   
Paul Volponi is represented by Rosemary Stimola of the Stimola Literary Agency. 
Ms. Stimola can contacted at ltrystudio@aol.com