Tuesday, September 1, 2015


A Whole New Ballgame
It is not often that a book marketed for an elementary/middle grade audience also strikes a chord with the teachers who offer it to their students.  Author Phil Bildner has written such a book.  A WHOLE NEW BALLGAME may be intended for kids ages 8-12, but it speaks to educators just the same.

Rip and Red are starting fifth grade in the elementary school they have attended since kindergarten.  When they arrive at school on the first day, they are greeted by unfamiliar faces.  Where is Ms. Hamburger, the usual fifth grade teacher?  Where is Ms. Darling, the principal?  Where is Waldon, the parent coordinator? 

Upon entering their classroom, Rip and Red come face to face with a man who introduces himself as Mr. Acevedo.  A new teacher?  How can this be? 

As the days pass, all the students realize that Mr. Acevedo is not a usual kind of teacher.  He encourages reading and writing and starts the students on a research project, but he doesn't believe in worksheets and he doesn't believe in TESTS.  Another surprise comes along after school when Rip and Red discover that Mr. Acevedo is also going to be their new basketball coach.

Will the fifth graders learn what they need to to pass the district-required standardized tests?  Will they actually learn anything at all?  And, will their mixed up basketball team ever win a game?  Mr. Acevedo doesn't seem to be worried at all.

Phil Bildner's fast-paced style and illustrator Tim Probert's great sketches are sure to capture the attention of young readers, but that's just the beginning.  Mr. Acevedo's bold approach and dedication to helping kids learn to think and not just regurgitate facts for some mandated test will speak to and encourage teachers to do what is best for their students.  A WHOLE NEW BALLGAME truly has something for all audiences!

No comments: