The Contract

Book review by
Kyle Jackson, Common Sense Media
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Fun tale of Jeter in Little League mixes action, messages.

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The parents' guide to what's in this book.

Educational Value

Young Derek's dedication to his schoolwork is a prerequisite for him being allowed to play sports, and the value and necessity of taking his education is emphasized throughout. Baseball beginners and enthusiasts alike also will appreciate the clear and detailed descriptions of Little League games and scenarios.

Positive Messages

Jeter stresses family values, the importance of discipline and focus, and how determination and ambition can lead to success in sports and life. He lays out his "10 Life Lessons" at the onset and goes to great lengths to ensure every event in the story contains a teachable moment.

Positive Role Models & Representations

Derek Jeter was respected and admired as much for his sportsmanship, philanthropy, and personality off the field as he was for his incredibly accomplished career as a ballplayer. In The Contract, we get a fictionalized retelling of his upbringing in Kalamazoo, revealing how his supportive and loving parents, solid friendships, and dedication and sacrifice helped him achieve his life's dream. 

Violence & Scariness

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that The Contract is the exciting, positive, and meaningful story of Yankee legend Derek Jeter's Little League experience as an ambitious 8-year-old in Kalamazoo, Michigan. This is Jeter's first book for children (written with veteran children's book author Paul Mitchell) and the first installment in a planned 10-part series documenting young Derek's journey from small-town recreational ball to the Major League.

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What's the story?

THE CONTRACT is the first book in a series of middle-grade novels based on Derek Jeter's childhood and early baseball career. Eight-year-old Derek is determined to be the starting shortstop of his favorite team, the New York Yankees, but he has to get through Little League first! Derek's parents are behind him 100 percent, drafting a contract for him to sign, with him promising to maintain good grades, be a role model for his little sister, and always act with respect and integrity. As he and his ragtag group of suburban teammates go through the season and school year, Derek has to deal with the responsibility of adhering to his contract, being a leader on and off the field, and striving to be a champion. 

Is it any good?

The Contract is a winner for kids who love baseball, and Jeter is a perfect role model for any competitor, the embodiment of class and leadership. Derek learns -- as all kids do, eventually -- that talent isn't enough to succeed; it requires hard work, a support system, and the ability to balance different challenges at the same time.

Though the writing definitely hits the reader over the head with the morals and messages, it's inspirational nonetheless to see how crucial a role Jeter's family played in his development, especially knowing that in the end young Derek does succeed, beyond even his wildest dreams. The baseball scenes are when the book gets fun, capturing the intense psychology and ups and downs of Little League accurately and with pizzazz. 

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about the value of setting goals and guidelines. How does having rules help us stay focused on what we need to do?

  • Derek always puts his schoolwork first, even ahead of sports. Why do his parents make sure he makes his academic performance a priority?

  • What do you think makes a good teammate? How can playing sports help build friendships?

Book details

Our editors recommend

For kids who love sports and competition

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