Friday, May 25, 2018

Most Valuable Players

35791912Bildner, Phil and Probert, Tim. Most Valuable Players
May 29th 2018 by Farrar, Straus and Giroux (BYR)
E ARC from Edelweiss Plus

Rip and Red are sad that 5th grade is ending, and more than a little apprehensive about what middle school will bring, but looking forward to the big celebration that will take place. Not only is there a graduation, but there is a school fund raiser that will include the Hoops Machine, an humorous exhibition team. Rip has been selected to go on the court with him and is very excited. However, when required tests are scheduled to be administered during the last week of school, the students start to rebel. They have enjoyed their quirky teacher, Mr. Acevedo, and feel that the tests are not a true test of what they have learned in fifth grade. Unfortunately, the school board decides that the entire fifth grade will be kept from participating in the fundraiser (and the Hoops Machine game) since they refused to take the test. Can the parents prevail one final time at the boys' school?
Strengths: Anything involving basketball is great, and the ensemble cast is full of appealing characters. Mr. Bildner works in a lot of fun activities and school events for the characters, and they all seem to have supportive (and diverse) family structures. Circumstances are portrayed realistically, and there are consequences for actions.
Weaknesses: Testing is here to stay. It always has been around, and polemics against are largely futile. This was the one part of the book that struck me as unrealistic-- we have had any number of students opt out of testing, and there are never any negative consequences for the students. I don't think we are allowed by law to assign any. There are, of course, negative consequences for teachers and the school when students who are doing well in school don't take the state tests, but it doesn't really help students to belabor that point.
What I really think: I was hoping this series would circulate more, but it hasn't. Perhaps the cover illustrations are more appealing to elementary school students? I think I will pass on purchase unless circulation picks up on the other books.
Ms. Yingling

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