#292 – The Best Basketball Player EVER by Heather Payer-Smith, author

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The Best Basketball Player Ever

Heather Payer-Smith, author

Charina Tolentin, illustrator

Lily Ruth Publishing

3 Stars

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.

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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.


The Best Basketball Player Ever

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





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8 thoughts on “#292 – The Best Basketball Player EVER by Heather Payer-Smith, author

  1. I can shoot (badly), dribble (badly) and pass (OK-ly). I know I can get better, but I am not interested in basketball that much. But I also understand the message of “Go out and play!” 😎


  2. Yeah – I was waiting for the kid to step up, too! And basketball’s not really my game. The Mom Person LOVES it. But that ball is too big for me. Give me a good tennis match! Thanks for the insightful review!


    • I’m with you. I prefer tennis over basketball. Actually, I prefer nearly everything over basketball. I don’t play video games that much either. But if you count time on the computer, I need to get my butt up out of the chair and go remind myself what the outdoors looks like. 😦


  3. I knew you’d get to the part about the Mom solving the problem. I read along patiently knowing I wasn’t the only one who knows the kids have to find their own solutions. I was hoping the kids who teased him would somehow either end up helping him, or making him angry enough to improve just to show them he could. That being said, I agree. This is an important message. “Go play outside!”


  4. Pingback: interview – Q & A with Author Heather Payer-Smith | Kid Lit Reviews

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