Sitomer, Alan Lawrence
SITOMER, Alan Lawrence
Born in NY. Education: University of Southern California, B.A., 1989; M.A.
Office—Milk Mug Publishing, 9190 West Olympic Blvd., Ste. 253, Beverly Hills, CA90212. E-mail—[email protected]
Educator and writer. Lynwood High School, Los Angeles, CA, teacher of English; Milk Mug Publishing, Beverly Hills, CA, founder; Loyola Marymount University, Los Angeles, professor. Has worked as a screenwriter, playwright, and greeting-card author.
Teacher of the Year Award, California Literacy Program, 2003; Award for Classroom Excellence, Southland Council Teachers of English, 2004.
FOR YOUNG ADULTS
The Hoopster, Milk Mug Publishing (Los Angeles, CA), 2002.
(With Michael Cirelli) Hip Hop Poetry and the Classics, Milk Mug Publishing (Los Angeles, CA), 2004.
Hip Hop High School, Hyperion Books for Children (New York, NY), 2006.
The Hoopster was adapted for audio-cassette, read by J.D. Jackson, Recorded Books, 2005.
Alan Lawrence Sitomer is the author of a group of young-adult books that are aimed at urban teens. A high-school English teacher as well as a writer, Sitomer was working in a Los Angeles innercity high school when he penned his first novel, The Hoopster. The book—about a high-school basketball star—was written in order to give his more reading-averse students a literature they could identify with. In an interview with the University of Southern California's Trojan Family Magazine, Sitomer recounted his students' introduction to literary classics: "We were asking them to read Pride and Prejudice, The Scarlet Letter. … they didn't have anything they could relate to." To solve the problem, Sitomer created a contemporary novel that focuses on the issues of modern teens.
The popularity of Sitomer's unpublished novel spread throughout the high school where he worked and it soon prompted the writer to market his novel through his own publishing company, Milk Mug Publishing. In the published version of The Hoopster, Sitomer also included a teacher's study guide. His first novel caught the attention of educators as well as publishers. In 2003 the California Literacy Program named Sitomer Teacher of the Year; Disney also recognized Sitomer's appeal and offered the author a three-book publishing deal.
Critics have acknowledged The Hoopster for its straightforward approach to racial issues and for its ability to engage young, reluctant readers. John Peters, writing for Booklist, regarded the novel as "unvarnished" and noted that Sitomer's tale "will engage unpracticed older readers, and … may prompt them to reexamine some of their own racial attitudes."
The Hoopster focuses on talented young athlete Andre Anderson. Besides being the high-school basketball star, Andre is also a skillful journalist. The teen's writing skills are put to the test, however, when the editor of the magazine where Andre is interning assigns the high schooler an article about racism. Andre's articles stir the public's attention, so much so that a local hate group attacks Andre for voicing his opinions. The Hoopster follows Andre as he struggles to overcome his racist attitudes and reveals the effect of racism not only on Andre, but also on his family and friends. Sitomer utilizes lively dialogue and exciting scenes to engage teen readers, and a Kirkus Reviews critic observed Sitomer's "strong prose, humor and well-described basketball scenes [that] support a larger tale of a writer who, even after his injuries to his hand says, 'I will type with my goddamned nose if I have to.'" School Library Journal reviewer Francisca Goldsmith acknowledged Sitomer's use of "gritty images, clever banter, and a genuine consideration of the facets of race and racism." Goldsmith also deemed The Hoopster "good literature, and a stellar read [that] … is bound to attract both student and teacher fans."
BIOGRAPHICAL AND CRITICAL SOURCES:
Sitomer, Alan Lawrence, The Hoopster, Hyperion Books for Children (New York, NY), 2005.
Booklist, June 1, 2005, John Peters, review of The Hoopster, p. 1792.
Kirkus Reviews, March 1, 2005, review of The Hoopster, p. 296.
School Library Journal, November, 2005, Francisca Goldsmith, review of The Hoopster, p. 75.
Alan Lawrence Sitomer Home Page,http://www.alanlawrencesitomer.com (October 6, 2006).
USC Trojan Family Web site,http://www.usc.edu/ (October 6, 2006).*