A high-school freshman in Chicago learns some strong life lessons about personal and community values as he struggles with the moral dilemma of keeping a pair of ill-begotten Air Jordan basketball sneakers that make him feel extra confident, while the price tag
of keeping them becomes far too high for him to manage.
This is the premise of Like 10 Feet Tall, a compelling contemporary YA novel to come off the writing desk of NY Times Best-selling Author Omar Tyree, which I am pleased to submit to you today for your consideration. In Like 10 Feet Tall, pint-sized freshman, Antonio Dyson, of West Chicago Charter High School, receives a dream pair of Air Jordan basketball shoes that make him feel 10 feet tall every time he wears them. Problem is, the high-priced pair of sneakers are a gift from Shadow, an infamous crime lord, who pulls off a bank truck robbery right in front of his eyes. But Antonio refuses to identify the man in a police investigation. He was only minding his own business, like his mother always told him to. It wasn't his fault the neighborhood bank machine was robbed.
Against his better judgment, Antonio knowingly benefits from the heist by secretly stashing the high-dollar pair of sneakers in his room to avoid his mother's questions about where he got them. In fact, the poor kid can't even wear the shoes outsidein a neighborhood rife with tough guys, superficial appearances, personal theft and plenty of robberies. Antonio wouldn't last one day there in an expensive pair of new Jordan's. That's when Shadow's young followers step in to protect him.
Before Antonio knows it, his new association with neighborhood tough guys elevates his own status amongst his peers, making him feel even tallerwith no basketball, football or baseball needed to propel him into celebrity status at his school. In his world of inner-city Chicago, personal status is everythingfrom the shoes that a kid wears to the people who know him, respect him, revere him and fear him. That so-called status revolves around the values of money, athleticism, and personable desirableslike his Jordan's.
But as the spoils from the bank robbery begins to create new partnerships, loyalties and confidence for Antonio and his wayward friends of West Chicago, the loss of economic faith, stability and safety in their commercial area begins to impact the hard-working people of the communitywho still need the bank's support for housing, small businesses, education and neighborhood development. Antonio and his friends are then forced to make some very hard and dangerous decisions about their association with Shadow, while losing the personal and neighborhood status that they've all dreamed so hard to attaina decision that continues to impact the lives of thousands of professional athletes, college graduates and successful business owners who are forced to navigate their way through the inner-city paradox.
Omar Tyree is a New York Times bestselling author, a 2001 NAACP Image Award Recipient for Outstanding Work in Literary Fiction and a 2006 Phillis Wheatley Literary Prize Winner for Body of Work in Urban Fiction. He was also awarded a Citation from the City Council of Philadelphia, Pennsylvaniahis hometownfor his work in urban literacy in 2009. Tyree established the nonprofit Urban Literacy Project in 2008, and he has written and published more than twenty-five books, selling more than two million copies worldwide. Like 10 Feet Tall is his second children's book, including 12 Brown Boys.