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'New Kid'

Travis wished his friends didn't live so far away.

"Why don't you get to know Sammy, the new kid who just moved in next door?" Mom asked.

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But Travis didn't think he and Sammy would like to do the same things. He went outside and practiced throwing his basketball into the hoop by himself. He tried to make some baskets, but it wasn't easy.

At dinner Mom told him, "Sammy will be in your class at school." But Travis didn't care.

At school he and Sammy were both picked for the same team in kickball. He was impressed to see that Sammy was a really good player, almost the star of the team.

The next day they played volleyball. This time Sammy was on the other team. Travis was sorry about that because again Sammy was really good, always leaping high in the air and socking the ball over the net time after time.

That afternoon Travis was outside in his driveway shooting baskets again.

"Hi," a voice said behind him.

He turned. It was Sammy.

"Could I shoot a few hoops with you?"

What could he say? He shrugged. "OK. Your turn."

Sammy scooped up the ball, held it lightly and tossed. Swish. Through the hoop it went.

Then Travis grabbed the ball. He tried hard but it missed the hoop completely.

"Look," Sammy said. "Don't hold it in the palms of your hands. Hold it with your fingertips."

Travis took the ball and held it with his fingertips, then tossed it. Whoo-o-sh, the ball sank through the hoop.

"Good," Sammy exclaimed.

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They played together for quite a while and had a lot of fun. Then Sammy said, "Wish I could stay longer, but I have to go now."

"Come back later," he said.

He was glad now that Samantha had moved in next door.

Hear this story read aloud at latimes.com/kids or by calling 1-800 LATIMES, Ext. 4KIDS (1-800-528-4637, Ext. 45437).

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