A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this book.
What 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.
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.
Talk to your kids 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?
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