Best of the Best



Tween baseball book provides tips for sports and friendship.

What parents need to know

Educational value

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.

Positive messages

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.


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.


Josh's dad smooches his new girlfriend, who is also filmed kissing and hugging her ex-husband.


Kids are teased and belittled; gross fart and booger jokes pop up here and there. Josh calls his dad's new girlfriend a tramp. 


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.

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.  

Parents say

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What's the story?

Josh is feeling pretty good since his travelling baseball team won a national tournament, especially after he's asked to play in the Little League World Series. But then he finds out his father is seeing another woman, and his parents are heading for divorce. Luckily he has baseball, and two very supportive friends -- a goofy teammate and an aspiring journalist who uses her investigative skills to help him try to unravel his father's relationship. As Josh's team works its way through the tournament, the friends encounter other problems -- they have to handle an obnoxious teammate and even uncover a scam being worked on his dad. And as Josh deals with his emotions both on the field and off, the friends help him learn to find the focus he needs.

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. 

Families can talk about...

  • Families can talk about the way Josh and his friends use cell phones and computers to tape conversations and examine behaviors. Jaden makes the point that recording people in public is different from recording them in private situations. When is recording OK and when does it cross the line?  Do you know of kids who use their phones to embarrass other kids?

  • Can you think about other books or movies about baseball? Why do you think it's such a popular backdrop for stories -- and what do these stories have in common? 

Book details

Author:Tim Green
Topics:Sports and martial arts
Book type:Fiction
Publisher:HarperCollins Children's Books
Publication date:March 22, 2011
Number of pages:272
Read aloud:9
Read alone:11

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Learning ratings

  • Best: Really engaging; great learning approach.
  • Very Good: Engaging; good learning approach.
  • Good: Pretty engaging; good learning approach.
  • Fair: Somewhat engaging; OK learning approach.
  • Not for Learning: Not recommended for learning.
  • Not for Kids: Not age-appropriate for kids; not recommended for learning.

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Kid, 12 years old November 18, 2011

oj's thoughts

it's about a kid that is kind of like going through a tough time in his life - similar to a lot of kids -what he finds is he is not alone.
What other families should know
Great messages


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