In their seventh book, Hidden Valley Junior High’s star footballers Tiki and Ronde Barber keep busy in the offseason by playing basketball.
There is one spot open on the basketball team, and a teammate’s dad has offered either twin 20 hours a week of work at his warehouse. In keeping with the book’s generally light tone, which teen will play ball and which will work is decided in a feel-good, amicable competition, with only a bit of friendly trash talk as each twin tries to outshoot the other. Tiki joins the team, only to discover that his teammates have low morale, thanks to ball-hogging star player Sugar Morton and the well-meaning but ineffective coach who won’t stand up to him. Ronde’s lesson comes in the form of his economically struggling co-worker, Ralph Ramirez, whose mom’s illness reminds Ronde that “[w]hatever problems he and Tiki had, other people had harder things to deal with, by far.” Meanwhile, Tiki addresses his problems with Sugar in the advice column he writes for the school newspaper, which—in the book’s least convincing plot point—helps Sugar see the error of his ways.
Lively basketball action and life lessons aplenty, some more realistic than others. (Fiction. 8-12)