I cracked open A Sky Full of Stars by Rene Saldana, Jr., hoping for some eye-popping action that would appeal to boys. After all, it's about a kid who gambles on his best friend in an underground boxing match. The front flap promised Spanglish, fight scenes, card sharps, prize money and 1964 Fold Galaxies. Unfortunately, I couldn't get past the first chapter, because of lines like this: "What kind of friend pops a buddy in the schnozz for no good reason?" (2).
OK. No self-respecting person under the age of 50 says schnozz. My Dad says schnozz. I actually remember him accusing this high school friend of mine, CJ, of leaving a "schnozz print" on the windshield of his car. And it's OK for my Dad to say schnozz, because he's a 1950s boy straight outta Stand By Me. He sounds good saying schnozz. But not the pre-teens of today, people. They say, "Yo, I thought you was my boy. Why you trying to get dumb?" They don't even mention schnozzes.
I'm not bringing this up so I can hate on Saldana. (He's in Guys Write for Guys Read. I'm sure he has a lot going for him.) I have the same problem with Carol Gorman, who, in her recent effort, Games, has one kid trash-talk another by comparing him to Yosemite Sam. Yosemite Sam? Really? And I see this in alot of books for boys. I guess it's OK for girls to talk in Standard English (always hated the caps on that), but guys are supposed to use slang and sound tough. So authors give it their best shot, but they're not even on the court.
I mean, if you don't know any kids, you can at least watch TV, right?