Cover image for Suitcase
Walter, Mildred Pitts.
Personal Author:
Publication Information:
New York : Lothrop, Lee & Shepard Books, 1999.
Physical Description:
107 pages : illustrations ; 22 cm
Despite his love of drawing and his feelings of inadequacy as an athlete, sixth-grader Xander "Suitcase" Bingham works to become a baseball player to win the approval of his father.
Reading Level:
550 Lexile.
Program Information:
Accelerated Reader AR MG 4.8 2.0 34674.

Reading Counts RC 3-5 3.5 3 Quiz: 18566 Guided reading level: N.
Added Author:
Format :


Call Number
Material Type
Home Location
Item Holds
X Juvenile Fiction Open Shelf
X Juvenile Fiction Open Shelf

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Despite his love of drawing and his feelings of inadequacy as an athlete, sixth-grader Xander Suitcase Bingham works to become a baseball player to win the approval of his father.

Reviews 3

Booklist Review

Gr. 3^-6. Mocked by classmates as "See-more" because of his height and drawing ability, sixth-grader Xander "Suitcase" Bingham is a tall African American boy who cannot play basketball. His athletic father is disappointed and worries about a son who "sits in a room drawing all the time." The coach, however, encourages Xander to develop his coordination by jumping rope and suggests that he may be better suited for a different sport. Xander becomes a skillful baseball pitcher and draws closer to his father, even as his team loses an important game. He also enters a city art contest and wins, realizing that now he can have it all, sports and art. Unfortunately, his father accepts Xander's artistic talent because he can also play baseball. There are flaws here, including patches of wooden dialogue and inconsistent plotting. Xander, however, is a special character and may encourage other artistically talented but athletically challenged students. --Linda Perkins

Publisher's Weekly Review

Xander's fellow sixth-graders and his perfect older sister Brandy taunt the artistic 11-year-old by calling him "Suitcase" and "See-more" because he's a gangly six feet two inches tall and wears a size 13 shoe. But his father's disappointment in a son who loves to draw and is always picked last at basketball stings more than his peers' jabs. With the exception of the likable Xander, the adult characters prove more compelling than the roundup of usual suspects in the elementary school cast. Into this mix, Walter (Justin and the Best Biscuits in the World) injects two powerful mentors: Mrs. Cloud, the fine arts teacher, and Jeff, the insightful coach who ultimately helps him find his own game. Although Walter maintains a buoyant tone, she also delivers some painful family truths in an authentically offhand way, such as when Xander's mother jokingly tells him that his father "thinks you're lazy and don't want to ruin your long, slender artist's fingers." Flavin's black-and-white drawings softly chronicle Xander's transformation into confidence and ease. Readers will cheer for Xander as he develops his talents, manages to please both his father and himself, and sends his self-doubt packing. Ages 8-up. (Oct.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

School Library Journal Review

Gr 3-6-An 11-year-old African-American boy struggles to gain self-esteem and to earn his father's love and respect. Xander is tall for his age and his dad expects him to excel at basketball, but the boy's passion in life is for art. Xander's peers, and even his sister, ridicule him because of his height and his clumsiness on the basketball court. However, he works hard to gain mastery over his awkward body, and finally achieves a degree of success as an athlete. In the process, he discovers that his father loves him and supports his artistic endeavors as well. Walter does a splendid job of drawing readers into Xander's mind and heart, and of creating characterization and setting. The plot moves well, and the sports action and the child's personal struggles should sustain the interest of even reluctant readers. The prose successfully brings the emotions of the young protagonist to life. The author develops the novel's theme with skill and subtlety, showing that persistence and being true to oneself ultimately bring success.-Paul Kelsey, East Baton Rouge Parish Public Library, LA (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.



Suitcase Chapter One "Hey, Suitcase! Wait up," Ronnie called. The other boys with Ronnie laughed. Xander didn't respond. He pretended he didn't know Ronnie was speaking to him, but he knew. Brandy, his sister, had taunted him with that same nickname at breakfast this morning. "Hey, you hear me." Ronnie was not to be ignored. "Are your suitcases so heavy you can't talk?" There was loud laughter. Why couldn't they leave him alone? One nickname was enough. And as if he could read Xander's mind, Steve said, "He likes the name See-more better." Xander's skin felt tight and tingly. He removed his backpack and held it close in front of him to help control the rage rising in his chest. He was so tense he thought he would break apart. "You like See-more better?" Ronnie asked."Man, your feet are bigger than you're tall. Because your feet so big, I'm gonna, call you Suitcase." Xander stopped. He glared at Ronnie and said in a low seething voice, "You better back off, man. I mean it, right now!" "Hi, Alexander," Mrs. Cloud called. Xander was relieved to hear the fine-arts teacher calling to him. His name was really Alexander. Only his family and friends called him Xander. Mrs. Cloud continued, "I was hoping for someone nice. And here you are. Come, help me, please." Xander did not respond to her happy greeting as she loaded him down with books and papers. "Is something wrong?" Mrs. Cloud asked. "No, ma'am." He spoke just loud enough for her to hear. He said nothing more as he walked behind her to her room. "There is something wrong," Mrs. Cloud said when Xander had deposited the things on her desk and was standing with his head down. He looked up. She smiled and said, "You can tell me." Xander remembered the conversation between his mama and daddy that had also taken place that morning. "Why can't he be like his sister?" Daddy had asked, "We never have to wake her up. And when she was eleven she was interested and active in a lotta things. I don't know what"s wrong with that boy. Hes interested in nothing but fooling around with that drawing. " "I see nothing wrong with drawing if that's what he wants to do," Mama said. "And he's good at it. "It's not likely he'll make a living out of drawing. And artists don't get college scholarships as easily as ballplayers. He needs to mix with boys and men morel not sit in that room drawing all the time. " Still feeling the hurt from his daddy's words, Xander couldn't bring himself to confide in Mrs. Cloud. He said with a tinge of agitation, "It's nothing." Yet he was grateful when Mrs. Cloud asked him to stay and help her change her bulletin board. And he was glad that she didn't make him talk while they worked. He measured the bulletin board and placed borders for students' paintings. As he gathered his things to leave, she said, "You know you're still my favorite artist, don't you?" Xander did not know what to say. He just stood with his head down. "Don't you?" she asked. "Yes, ma'am." He looked at her and smiled. He remembered being voted best artist in the whole school last year when he was in the fifth grade. Ronnie, who had entered the competition, too, had said after the ceremony, "You don't draw that good, you just so tall you see more than the rest of us." Now, he could still hear the laughter from his classmates. "Doing much drawing these days?" Mrs. Cloud asked. "Right now I'm trying to draw animals, Xander said softly. "You're very good with people. I wish more of my students had your eye, Alexander," she said. "Thank you for doing the bulletin board, it looks great." He rushed out of her room not minding at all that he was six feet two inches tall, wearing a size thirteen shoe. Suitcase . Copyright © by Mildred Walter. Reprinted by permission of HarperCollins Publishers, Inc. All rights reserved. Available now wherever books are sold. Excerpted from Suitcase by Mildred Pitts Walter All rights reserved by the original copyright owners. Excerpts are provided for display purposes only and may not be reproduced, reprinted or distributed without the written permission of the publisher.