Rip and Red are excited about starting 5th grade until they realize how many changes have happened in their school district due to budget cuts. First, they have a new first-year teacher named Mr. Acevedo who refuses to follow school rules. He believes students should write about things they want to write about and not have to do lessons that prepare them for taking tests. Second, their basketball team is now for boys and girls and they are going to have to play games against other, more competitive schools.
I love the relationship between Rip and Red. Red is autistic so he has a hard time dealing with change. Rip is Red's longtime friend, who knows when Red is about to meltdown and does all he can to keep his friend calm and focused. The basketball games are exciting and very realistic. My one problem with the book is that it ends very quickly and we never find out whether Mr. Acevedo gets in trouble for his "no rules" teaching. This book is the beginning of a series so perhaps more of the issues get resolved in the next book, Rookie of the Year.