Just Read: A Whole New Ballgame (Rip and Red) by Phil Bildner, Illustrated by Tim Probert (MG, Contemporary, Humor)
Rip and Red are best friends on their fifth grade basketball team. Their new teacher and coach Mr. Acevedo challenges the easy-going Rip to be more social with an angry differently-abled student. While Red, a boy with autism spectrum disorder, is challenged to play a game without the orderly rules he is used to.
I grabbed this book because I loved the illustrations and I was working on a book about boys who love basketball (Misadventures of Marvin Miller). Even though our books are totally different in theme and style, I learned a lot from Phil Bildner's novel.
His characters are well-drawn and have both humor and heart, a balance which is difficult to find. The illustrations are practically perfect and mirrored my visions of the boys and girls of the story.
As a teacher, I appreciated the story line of Mr. Acevedo as he struggled to creatively challenge his students while also fulfilling new testing requirements. As a reader and writer of middle grade fiction, I completely appreciated this book, particularly its accurate but sensitive depiction of pre-teens with autism... and of course the exciting and realistic basketball scenes!
Buy it HERE on Amazon