Bildner, Phil A Whole New Ballgame, 243 pgs. MacMillan (Farrar Straus Giroux), 2015. $15.99. Language: G (0 swears, 0 “f”); Mature Content: G; Violence: G.
Rip and Red are best friends. They have a lot in common - they both play basketball, their moms are best friends, and they are going into 5th grade together. But the teacher they expect isn’t there, (she retired) and the new teacher is very unexpected - he does everything differently. He doesn’t look like a teacher with his dreadlocks and tattoos, he wears jeans everyday, teaches without worksheets and homework and refuses to do “test prep”. He’s the coach of the 5th grade basketball team and has “guaranteed them a win.” The parents, and even some of the kids are worried. But Rip and Red aren’t worried. Mr. Acevedo even knows how to help Red, who is on the autism spectrum.
This story about an innovative teacher trying to challenge the system will probably go over the heads of the intended audience, but the characters are great, someone each reader can identify with - the angry girl in a wheelchair, the autistic kid, the athlete etc. Lots of sports action will make this a fun read, and the message that good teaching doesn’t always look the same is a bonus.
EL - ADVISABLE Lisa Librarian