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Toby Wheeler, eighth-grade benchwarmer
Book
2007
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  Booklist Review

Eighth-grader Toby Wheeler is happy being a gym-rat playing pickup basketball games with his friends, so when the newly hired coach suggests he try out for the team, Toby is tempted. For one thing, it might bring him closer to his best friend, JJ, who is already a star. Lately, JJ has  been ignoring Toby and treating him like a little kid. So Toby signs up, but the experience is not quite what he had in mind. Instead of being a player, he's the twelfth man, the benchwarmer. Moreover, his budding relationship with recent arrival Megan becomes bumpy when he finds out the coach is Megan's dad. This debut novel hits most of the right notes. Only the subplot about Toby's parents and the conflict between his job in the lumber industry and hers as a conservationist seems unwieldy; otherwise, there's plenty of basketball and the requisite amount of girl-boy interaction. With so much written about the friction between girl friends, it's good to have a book that acknowledges that left-out feeling happens to boys, too.--Cooper, Ilene Copyright 2007 Booklist
Summary
TOBY WHEELER LOVES basketball and playing pickup games at the local rec center. No coaches, no practices, just nonstop action with his best friend, JJ, at his side. But lately JJ's been acting like he's too busy for Toby, and Toby knows it will only get worse once basketball season begins at their junior high. That's because JJ is the star of their school team, while Toby is just an ordinary gym rat.<br> <br> When Coach Applewhite offers Toby a chance to join the team, Toby's eager to prove he can keep up with JJ. But then the coach announces the lineup, and Toby's hopes of playing ball with JJ are history: he's an eighthgrade benchwarmer! Befriending the coach's daughter only makes matters worse. Now the only way Toby will get in the game is if he starts thinking like a team player, on and off the court.
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