A Lot or a Little?
What you will—and won't—find in this book.
Besides learning a few baseball strategies, readers will find a few ethical issues to talk about -- including what conversations can be recorded. And they will see some great examples of what it means to be good friends.
When Josh's family falls apart, he has to work hard to keep his own life together. He is able to do this with the help of his two loyal, supportive friends.
Positive Role Models
Josh has talent but he also works hard, listens respectfully to his coaches, and works with his team. That is what makes him a star. He has supportive friends -- including a smart, loyal girl -- who help him make sense of things. However, most adult characters (except for Josh's mom) bend the rules, and cheat, scam, manipulate and so on. One mother doctors the books to get Benji on the all-star team, and that act of cheating is never fully addressed.
Violence & Scariness
Two teammates come to blows over loyalty to their mothers, though their egos are more bruised that their bodies. Josh's father fights the guy who is scamming him, and Jaden sprays hairspray in his face.
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Sex, Romance & Nudity
Josh's dad smooches his new girlfriend, who is also filmed kissing and hugging her ex-husband.
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Kids are teased and belittled; gross fart and booger jokes pop up here and there. Josh calls his dad's new girlfriend a tramp.
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Products & Purchases
Kids use Skype and cell phones to set up traps.
Drinking, Drugs & Smoking
Mention is made of steroids, and one obnoxious baseball player smokes on the sly. When he is caught smoking, Josh and his friends almost blackmail him.
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Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that this is a baseball book -- and is packed with real baseball hints -- but it's also about a 12-year-old boy dealing with the disappointment and pain when his family falls apart. Josh has talent but he also works hard, listens respectfully to his coaches, and works with his team. That is what makes him a star. He has supportive friends -- including a smart, loyal girl -- who help him make sense of things. This book brushes up against some intense issues, from divorce to blackmail, but it's mostly about dedication, friendship, loyalty, and just what makes a team work.
Is It Any Good?
Though this is not exactly great literature, it will definitely appeal to kids who love baseball. It will also impart some gentle lessons about being honest, focusing amid distractions, and what it means to be a good friend. The dialogue amongst the friends is realistic, as are the plans they come up with to get back at a bully, destroy Josh's dad's new romance -- and save him from a scam. Even the gross-out humor is right on target for tweens. These genuine characters will make it easy for young readers to care about these three friends, and learn something from their adventures and struggles.
Did we miss something on diversity?
Research shows a connection between kids' healthy self-esteem and positive portrayals in media. That's why we've added a new "Diverse Representations" section to our reviews that will be rolling out on an ongoing basis. You can help us help kids by suggesting a diversity update.