Parents' Guide to

A Whole New Ballgame: Rip and Red, Book 1

By Darienne Stewart, Common Sense Media Reviewer

age 8+

Fun, gentle story about kids gaining confidence and empathy.

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Change can be unsettling, even scary, but this sweet, engaging book helps point out the way upheaval can churn up new possibilities. Written by a former teacher, this first book in the Rip and Red series is about empathy, creativity, and learning to roll with the unexpected. A WHOLE NEW BALLGAME is set against a backdrop of budget cuts and test-prep culture, but the heart of the story is the friendship between Rip and Red, who's on the autism spectrum. The boys were thrown together due to their mothers' friendship, but they've forged a close bond that helps bring out the best in each other -- and in others.

If it all feels too sweet, don't worry: A plot line about a competitive basketball season and a class project on gross stuff will keep young readers hooked. Author Phil Bildner writes with a keen sense for the daily ups and downs of a fifth grader, and lively illustrations by Tim Probert add to the fun.

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