Quill and Quire

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Dare to Be Different

by Quincy Mack with Robyn Burnett

Quincy Mack is a professional basketball trickster from Brantford, Ontario, who uses more than 100 Harlem Globetrotters-style tricks to grab kids’ attention so they’ll listen to his inspirational lectures. Part memoir/part Chicken Soup for the Teenage Soul, Dare to Be Different is a motivational tract for the baggy pants set.

It’s also pretty much a 154-page Nike commercial. The cover photo of a hip-hop-style Q Mack shows him holding a basketball bearing the distinctive Nike swoosh; Nike-inspired illustrations are peppered throughout; and the last chapter describes how following his own advice enabled him to become a professional Nike spokesman. Nike sponsors his school shows and he gives away Nike products as prizes and gifts.

The first 10 chapters of the book each tell a lesson illustrated from events in Q Mack’s life: the value of hard work learned from his mother; the importance of setting reachable goals, of perseverance and positive thinking; and how bullying isn’t cool. The lessons are stated clearly in language that has just enough bite to be edgy without running the risk of offending anybody’s parents. However, it’s hard to escape the impression that the real message of the whole book (other than to buy Nike) is to look cool while conforming to expectations: Be different, but not too different.

Dare to Be Different is aimed at young boys, and will appeal mostly to basketball fans or skateboarders who might be encouraged by Q Mack’s profile to pick up a book rather than lace up their high-tops.