Athlete vs. Mathlete

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Athlete vs. Mathlete
Author(s)
Genre(s)
Age Range
10+
Release Date
February 05, 2013
ISBN
978-1599908588
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Owen Evans lights up the scoreboards. His brother, Russell, rocks the school boards. These twin brothers couldn't be more different. They've long kept the peace by going their separate ways, but all that is about to change. The new basketball coach recruits Russell for the seventh grade team and a jealous Owen has to fight to stay in the game. When someone tries to steal Russell's spot as captain of the mathlete team, will the two be able to put aside their differences in order to save his position? Or will they be sidelined?Perfect for fans of Matt Christopher and Andrew Clements alike, this is a lighthearted and hilarious look at what happens when brains meets brawn meets basketball.

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(Updated: February 28, 2013)
Overall rating 
 
4.0
Plot/Characters/Writing Style 
 
4.0
Illustrations/Photos (if applicable) 
 
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The title says it all!

Owen and his friends are really annoyed because the new basketball coach is requiring them to try out for the team even though they were on it last year. Not only that, but when the coach sees Owen's twin brother, mathlete Russell, he asks Russell to try out for the team because he's tall. Unfortunately, Russell is uncoordinated and prefers to spend his time working on a Masters of the Mind team. When the twins' father finds out that Russell might finally be interested in a sport, he gets so excited that he takes Russell to buy athletic gear. Russell enjoys his father's enthusiasm, and feels uncharacteristically cool in the gear. He puts in some effort to train for tryouts, and actually makes the team. Owen isn't thrilled, but Russell has even more problems. Basketball practice conflicts with his Masters of the Mind ones, and gives him very little time to do homework. When Russell finds that he has more basketball abilities than he thought, Owen feels threatened. His performance on the team is clouded by his anger at his brother, and the boys no longer get along. Russell backs off from the team a bit, but is that really the answer?

Good Points
I really liked it because I think my students will. Russell and Owen are both successful in their own circles, but not as successful in other areas. The tension between the boys is realistic, and neither are overly stereotypical. Not enough middle grade books touch on time management and exploring other activities. What I liked best was Russell's struggle with personal identity. He was perfectly happy with who he was, but would he be even happier including basketball?

W.C. Mack did a great job at moving the story along, too. It never bogs down, even when the boys are struggling with homework. The descriptions of the basketball games are great, too, and a lot of my readers like to read game descriptions, so this adds a lot to the book.

I can't wait to see if this author comes out with another book about these characters! I would love that.
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