Heather Payer-Smith, author
Charina Tolentin, illustrator
Lily Ruth Publishing
Back Cover: Tommy is the best basketball play when playing his video games. He wins every time! However, when his mother tells him to go outside and pay he finds that playing with the real basketball doesn’t come so easy for him. He can’t dribble, pass or even shoot! To make matters worse the neighborhood kids laugh at his attempts. He decides to give up and only play video games until his mother challenges him to keep practicing. Before long, he finds himself improving and on his way to becoming the best basketball player ever!
Tommy Parker loves to play basketball . . . video game style. He sees himself as the “best basketball player” but mom his quick to correct him.
“You mean you are the best video game basketball player,” his mother corrected.
Tommy did not like hearing this. In his mind, the video basketball was the real thing. He showed his disdain at his mother’s correction by throwing the video game controller to the ground and stomping his foot. Mom insisted he go outside and play, saying he can’t call himself the best if he doesn’t play the real game.
“Just you wait. I’ll show you!” Tommy huffed.
Tommy didn’t show anyone. He could not dribble, pass, or shoot the ball. First, Tommy gave up on dribbling and concentrated on shooting the ball. Two kids riding by told him he was the worst basketball player ever. Disgusted, Tommy decided to stick with his video game. Mom reminded her son that he was once bad at the video game version but with lots of practice became very good. Then Mom came to the rescue and showed Tommy how to pass the ball, dribble, and shoot. She taught him more about the game in the following days.
The Best Basketball Player EVER is a nice short story for all those kids hooked on video games; staying indoors on sunny days to make those virtual three-pointers or kill the intruder. The story encourages kids to play outdoors like their parents did a generation or two ago. For any video game, that has a real life version kids can play, the story does a good job encouraging them to put down the controller. Not all kids will believe playing outside is better than a video game, especially if their favorite game does not have an outdoor equivalent. Still, the author has made an admirable attempt at getting kids away from video games and outside playing. Score one for anti-obesity and physical exercise.
The illustrations are quirky. Mom has a flat face that looks like a witch from the side. Tommy stays close to the same in each picture, but Mom is all over the place. Oddly, they are dressed alike. All the character faces are, at best, quirky. The best illustration, by far, is the composite of mom teaching Tommy different moves. The illustration below has great perspective.
In children’s books, the child is the one who figures out how to solve his problem and grows from the experience. Here, Mom solves the problem and is the catalyst to Tommy’s change in attitude and ability. The book’s form is incorrect, looking like a post in a blog rather than a book. Books still use correct formatting including paragraphs, spacing, and indentation. Where was the editor? Seems they also dropped the ball.
The Best Basketball Player EVER would normally appeal to boys. Having mom teaching Tommy how to play basketball, regardless how good she may have been when younger, will not appeal to many boys. If the story had to have an adult in it, this should have been dad. Call this sexist if you want, but it is still the reality of the day. Add in quirky illustrations and I believe this is a one-time read for most kids and parents. The good news: The author knows how to construct a story. She gave each character distinctive voices, and tried to add a conflict with the addition of the taunting boys. With lessons on formatting—that both author and editor should know—the author will do well in the future.
Heather Payer-Smith, author website blog facebook twitter Charina Tolentin, illustrator website Lily Ruth Publishing website blog Re-Released March 30, 2013 (original November 24, 2012) ISBN: 978-0982300985 44 Pages Ages: 6 to 8 . Copyright © 2013 by Lily Ruth Publishing, used with permission. Text: Copyright © 2012 by Heather Payer-Smith Illustrations: Copyright © 20912 by Charina Tolentin
- interview – Q & A with Author Heather Payer-Smith (kid-lit-reviews.com)
- How to Select the Best Instructional Video Games for Your Kids (epicagames.com)