Zander Scott and his friends Kambui, LaShonda, and Bobbi are in trouble. Even though they're students at DaVinci Academy for the Gifted and Talented in Harlem, their grades are slipping, and Mr. Culpepper, the assistant principal and "chief executioner", is ready to be rid of them.
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In this second book of The Cruisers series, the term "gifted and talented" takes on a whole new meaning for Zander, Kambui, LaShonda, and Bobbi - a group of misfits who attend Da Vinci Academy, a school in Harlem for only the brightest kids. Their friend Sidney Aronofsky is considered one of the best chess players in the city. When Sidney is arrested for trying to buy drugs, it comes as a shock to those who know him, especially the Cruisers. Sidney loves chess, but the pressure never lets up.
The Cruiser, the alternative newspaper published by Zander and his crew of middle school misfits, is alive and well. And now there's plenty to report on when LaShonda, one of the Cruisers, steps into the spotlight with her costume designs for an upcoming play. LaShonda's designs get rave reviews, but she soon learns that show business is filled with challenges and choices. LaShonda is forced to consider what's more important - fame or loyalty to her autistic brother.
The Cruisers are in trouble - again. The freedom of expression they've enjoyed by publishing their own school newspaper, The Cruiser, has spread all the way to England, where kids from a school "across the pond" are now contributors to their own school's most talked-about publication. When photos start to go alongside the articles written by kids, things get suspicious. Zander, Kambui, LaShonda, Bobbi - and a bunch of students from Harlem's Da Vinci Academy and London's Phoenix School - come to learn that words and pictures in a newspaper don't always tell the whole story.