Texas Bluebonnet Award 2014-2015

Resources for the TBA Nominees

Athlete vs. Mathlete


Athlete Vs. Mathlete
by W.C. Mack

Scroll down to find Related Activities & Resources, Book Talk Teasers, Read Alikes, and Book Reviews.

Readers Theater Script – Athlete Vs. Mathlete (PDF)


Background Information

About the author:
Website for author W. C. Mack (aka Winnie Mack):

Website for author Winnie Mack (aka W. C. Mack):

Print interview with Winnie Mack:

Simple basketball rules for kids:

More in depth basketball rules:

Differences between girls and boys basketball:

Sibling rivalry:



Facts about fraternal twins:

How twins are formed:

Related Activities

Miscellaneous ideas for activities:
Some ideas for curriculum related to the book:

Covers and titles for Athlete vs. Mathlete #2 in series have different covers and titles in U. S. and Canada. Suggested activity: Show both covers with both titles. Ask students which cover and which title they like best for the sequel and why. (Scroll down to see covers and titles):

Have an “Athlete Mathlete” day: Students dress up as either an athlete or a mathlete (or some combination of the two) and compete in “brawn and brain” activities. (A few links to ideas for this are listed below.)

“Brain” games:
Odyssey of the Mind program (Similar to Masters of the Mind in the book). Note “Practice problems” and “Classroom activities” links on the left-hand sidebar of the homepage:

Jeopardy game with brain and brawn questions:

Brain buster online games:

Lots of examples of games to develop thinking skills:

Lots of fun brain games:

“Brawn” games:
Grades 3-5 fitness lesson plans:

Physical games and activities for groups:

Online basketball game:

Basketball fun facts (would make good “brawn” questions):

Online basketball quiz for kids:


Read the inside front flap of the book.

Read the first chapter up to the page divider on page 9.


Some other books by W. C./Winnie Mack (Author appeal):

Mack, W. C. Athlete vs. mathlete: double dribble (#2 in series). Fraternal twins Russ and Owen’s domination of the seventh-grade basketball team falters when Mitch and Marcus Matthews, identical twins, arrive and prove their skill on the court and in the classroom. (WorldCat.org)

Mack, W. C. Athlete vs. mathlete: time-out (#3 in series, published July 1, 2014). Owen wins the last spot at the local basketball camp, leaving his twin Russ to join the “Multi-Sport Sampler” camp, but while Russ is inspired to study various sports and make sense of them, Owen is frustrated by not being the star. (WorldCat.org)

Mack, Winnie. After all, you’re Callie Boone. Runaway ferrets, former BFF drama-trauma, and one gigantic (and very, very public) belly flop. No doubt about it, Callie Boone’s summer is crummy. The only things keeping her afloat are dive practice with her dad and a top-secret Olympic dream. Then a boy named Hoot–who is not her boyfriend!–moves in next door and turns her world upside down and right-side up. (WorldCat.org)

More fiction books about basketball (Subject appeal):

Peirce, Lincoln. Big Nate: game on! (#9 in series – graphic novel). Nate Wright, all-time record holder for detentions in school history, approaches sports with swagger, from fine-tuning his trash talk on the basketball court to his attitude on the soccer field. (NoveList)

Lupica, Mike. Travel team (and other titles by this author). After he is cut from his travel basketball team–the very same team that his father once led to national prominence–twelve-year-old Danny Walker forms his own team of cast-offs that might have a shot at victory. (NoveList)

Harkrader, Lisa. Airball: my life in briefs. Uncoordinated Kansas seventh-grader Kirby Nickel braves his coach’s ire and becomes captain of the basketball team in order to help him prove that NBA star Brett McGrew is the father he has never known. (NoveList)

Abdul-Jabbar, Kareem. Sasquatch in the paint. Eighth-grader Theo Rollins’ growth spurt has Coach Mandrake trying to transform him into a basketball star, but training time is hurting the science club’s chances of winning the “Aca-lympics,” and being accused of stealing could mean Theo is off both teams. (NoveList)

Hirschfeld, Robert. Slam dunk (Matt Christopher sports fiction series). When a new school year starts, and thirteen-year-old basketball star Julian feels a lot of pressure as he realizes he is the only remaining player from last year’s winning team, a friend’s health crisis helps him regain perspective. (NoveList)

Nonfiction books about basketball (Subject appeal):

Kaplan, Bobby. Bball basics for kids: a basketball handbook. Provides instructions and skills for developing essential basketball skills, covering ball handling, shooting, passing, defense, and rebounding. (WorldCat.org)

Hareas, John. Basketball (Eyewitness series). Presents a comprehensive history of the game of basketball and includes full-color and vintage photographs of early teams and players along with information on equipment and uniforms used over the decades, stadiums, and the birth of the NBA. (WorldCat.org)

Salzmann, Mary Elizabeth. Basketball by the numbers (Team sports by the numbers series). Learn how numbers are used in basketball. (WorldCat.org)

Schaller, Bob.The everything kids’ basketball book: the all-time greats, legendary teams, today’s superstars, and tips on playing like a pro. Presents an introduction to the game of basketball, in simple text with illustrations, providing information on the rules and the game’s history, and describing playing techniques, skills, and related games. (WorldCat.org)

More fiction books about twins (Character appeal):

Avi. Never mind!: a twin novel. Twelve-year-old New York City twins Meg and Edward have nothing in common, so they are just as shocked as everyone else when Meg’s hopes for popularity and Edward’s mischievous schemes coincidentally collide in a hilarious showdown. (NoveList)

Barber, Tikki. Jump shot. When Tiki and Ronde make the junior high school basketball team, they see that they each have their own skills and the most important skill is teamwork. (NoveList)

Cleary, Beverly. Mitch and Amy. The adventures of a nine-year-old twin brother and sister who, despite constant bickering, support each other loyally at home and at school. (NoveList)

Clements, Andrew. Lost and found. Twelve-year-old identical twins Jay and Ray have long resented that everyone treats them as one person, and so they hatch a plot to take advantage of a clerical error at their new school and pretend they are just one. (NoveList)

Gutman, Dan. Mission unstoppable (#1 in The Genius files series). On a cross-country vacation with their parents, twins Coke and Pepsi, soon to be thirteen, fend off strange assassins as they try to come to terms with their being part of a top-secret government organization known as The Genius Files. (NoveList)

Richardson, Charisse K. The real lucky charm. Thinking that luck–rather than hard work–has helped her succeed on the court and at school, ten-year-old Mia panics and turns to her twin brother for help when her lucky gold basketball goes missing from her charm bracelet. (NoveList)

Spinelli, Jerry.  Jake and Lily. Jake and Lily are twins. Despite their slightly different interests and temperaments, they feel exactly the same–like two halves of one person. But the year they turn eleven, everything changes. (publisher’s website)

Weiner, Ellis. The Templeton Twins have an idea (#1 in The Templeton twins series). Abigail and John, the Templeton twins, and their dog Cassie, foil a pair of inept kidnappers intent on stealing one of their father’s newest inventions. (NoveList)

Nonfiction books about twins (Character appeal):

Jussim, Daniel. Double take: the story of twins. An introduction into the lives of twins, multiples, and conjoined twins. (WorldCat.org)

Rotner, Shelley. About twins. Examines the different kinds of twins and discusses the delights, difficulties, and complexities of being a twin. (WorldCat.org)

More books told in first person from multiple perspectives (Writing style):

Angleberger, Tom. The strange case of Origami Yoda (#1 in Origami Yoda series). Sixth-grader Tommy and his friends describe their interactions with a paper finger puppet of Yoda, worn by their weird classmate Dwight, as they try to figure out whether or not the puppet can really predict the future. Includes instructions for making Origami Yoda. (NoveList)

Konigsburg, E. L. The view from Saturday (Newbery Award winner). Four students, with their own individual stories, develop a special bond and attract the attention of their teacher, a paraplegic, who chooses them to represent their sixth-grade class in the Academic Bowl competition. (NoveList)

Korman, Gordon. Schooled. Homeschooled by his hippie grandmother, Capricorn (Cap) Anderson has never watched television, tasted a pizza, or even heard of a wedgie, but when his grandmother lands in the hospital, Cap is forced to move in with a guidance counselor and attend the local middle school. While Cap knows a lot about tie-dyeing and Zen Buddhism, no education could prepare him for the politics of public school. (NoveList)

Lorenzi, Natalie Dias. Flying the dragon. When Skye’s cousin Hiroshi and his family move to Virginia from Japan, the cultural differences lead to misunderstandings and both children are unhappy at the changes in their lives–will flying the dragon kite finally bring them together? (NoveList)

Palacio, R. J. Wonder. Ten-year-old Auggie Pullman, who was born with extreme facial abnormalities and was not expected to survive, goes from being home-schooled to entering fifth grade at a private middle school in Manhattan, which entails enduring the taunting and fear of his classmates as he struggles to be seen as just another student. (NoveList)


Athlete vs. Mathlete. By W. C. Mack. 2013. 208p. Bloomsbury, $16.99 (9781599909158); Bloomsbury, paperback, $6.99 (9781599908588). Gr. 5–7. (Booklist, March 15, 2013).

Twins Owen and Russell have followed different paths. Owen loves playing basketball, while Russell takes pride in leading the school’s Masters of the Mind team. When the new basketball coach spots Russ in the hallway (“Hey, you! . . . Tall kid!”), he recruits him for the seventh-grade team. Russ hopes that sharing basketball will help him grow closer to his twin, but Owen responds to him as an invader on his territory. The experience shifts the dynamics of their relationship and leaves them both shaken, yet more aware of their fundamental bond. The first-person narrative alternates between the brothers, a technique that works well, showing each one’s emotional makeup as well as individual points of view on the problems at hand. There’s wit as well as painful reflection in the novel, which shows both boys developing unrecognized talents behind their cool jock and proud nerd facades. A promising first volume in the Athlete vs. Mathlete series.— Carolyn Phelan

Bulletin of the Center for Children’s Books:
Mack, W. C. 2013. Athlete vs. Mathlete. New York: Bloomsbury. Hardback: 9781599909158, Paperback: 9781599908588, eBook: 9781599909370.

Fraternal twins Owen and Russell have coexisted in a state of general amity, with basketball star Owen staking his ground as the family jock and Russell holding forth as the acknowledged brainiac. This year, though, the new basketball coach throws everything off balance by insisting that all former players try out again for the seventh-grade team and recruiting tall, lanky, uncoordinated Russell to try out as well. Russell would rather put his energy into the Masters of the Mind team egg-drop competition, but he’s good-natured enough to comply with the coach, certain a tryout will promptly prove his ineptitude. It turns out Russell’s got some decent blocking skill and a natural jump shot and now a spot with Owen on the team. The brothers take turns at narration, with Owen airing first his pride and then his outrage over Russell’s theft of the limelight, while Russell frets over his dereliction of team leadership duties at MotM, even as he revels in shedding his reputation as a nerd. Mack evokes empathy for each boy, with honest attention to the fact that Russell can steal Owen’s thunder as a player, but Owen will never match Russell at academics. The middle-school dynamics are too innocent and polished to be completely credible, however, and the supporting cast of friends and parents step straight out of an afterschool special. This could nonetheless be a good choice for younger kids who haven’t personally gnashed on the grit of middle school and still have reason to hope that family and school problems can be reconciled in a few hundred pages.

Review Code: Ad — Additional book of acceptable quality for collections needing more material in the area. Grades 4-6. Elizabeth Bush (The Bulletin of the Center for Children’s Books, March 2013)

Horn Book:
Mack, W. C. Athlete vs. Mathlete

199 pp. Bloomsbury (Bloomsbury Publishing) 2013. ISBN 978-1-59990-915-8 PE ISBN 978-1-59990-858-8
(3) 4-6 “Owen was the jock. I was the brains. And that was how it was supposed to be.” Seventh-grade twins Russell and Owen are content with their brains/brawn labels, until Russell inadvertently makes the basketball team and threatens Owen’s athletic stardom. The brothers’ alternating voices are humorous and insightful, allowing the shakeup of their family dynamic to really resonate. (Fall 2013 Guide) Reprinted from The Horn Book Guide by permission of The Horn Book, Inc., www.hbook.com


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