Tournament of Champions - a Rip and Red book
written by Phil Bildner
illustrated by Tim Probert
published by Farrar Straus Giroux
June 6th, 2017
Goodreads summary:It's spring of their fifth-grade year and Rip and Red have a thrilling opportunity to participate in a weekend basketball tournament with a few other members of Clifton United. While the tournament is only a short bus ride away, both boys will travel outside their comfort zones. Ultra-competitive Rip must play on a team with kids he doesn't like. But he faces an even bigger hurdle when someone from his past returns, someone he hasn't seen in years, someone who just may derail the entire weekend. As for Red, because of his autism spectrum disorder, he's never traveled anywhere without his mother. Will he muster the courage to take the trip? Fortunately for both boys, also on the team is an unlikely addition, a source of inspiration who helps everyone discover the true meaning of the word champion.
My quick thoughts:
I remember reading my first Rip and Red book a couple of years ago. I read it on my phone via NetGalley while standing in line at Disney World. Reading books on the Kindle app is hard for me, much less on my phone. I find an emotional disconnect while reading electronically. However, after reading A Whole New Ballgame, I knew I had found a special book. I knew this book would connect with readers. I knew this book would make a great read aloud. It has characters you can emotionally relate to. It has situations that kids find in real life. It has a diverse cast of characters. It has a really fun teacher and classroom.
Now a couple of sequels later, readers still find the things they loved and enjoyed in the first book in the rest of the series. When I first read the premise of Tournament of Champions, I didn't know where Bildner was going to take the story. I know tournaments can be complicated and full of potential drama, but I didn't know if either it would last a whole story or get boring for readers. But as usual, the story is in good hands as Bildner weaves a story that is sure to captivate young audiences. I love the way the multiple story stands weave together. I think most readers are going to see something within the story that reminds them of themselves. It also quietly teaches a message to its readers - that the word champion may not necessarily mean finishing in first place but how you approach challenges in your own life.
Look for this next addition to the Rip and Red series on June 6th!