Thumb on a Diamond

Book review by
Matt Berman, Common Sense Media
Thumb on a Diamond Book Poster Image
Charming fish-out-of-water baseball story.

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

Positive Messages

Everyone in this story is kind, friendly, and cheerful.

Violence & Scariness

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that there's nothing to be concerned about here, and the characters have an easy-going camaraderie that's admirable.

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What's the story?

In this sequel to Thumb in a Box, Leon (called Thumb) and his friends live in an isolated coastal village surrounded by mountains in British Columbia. They have no road or cars, and no way in or out except by boat or seaplane. Most of them have never been anywhere else. They would like to see a city, and Thumb's father, the school principal, wants to take them on a field trip to Vancouver. But the school district won't pay for it.

The district, however, does pay for sports teams to travel to championships. So they decide that if they form a baseball team, they can go to the championships, since no other school in their district plays baseball. The fact that they've never played baseball either won't be a problem -- once they're in Vancouver, a couple of them can pretend to be sick and they'll forfeit the game, and still get to see the city. It's a good plan ... if only they didn't want to actually try playing.

Is it any good?

And, aside from some rather ugly cartoon illustrations, this book is a lovely experience. THUMB ON A DIAMOND is just for fun -- no great issues (other than "Why can't we all live a little more like this?"), no mystery to solve, just pleasure.

If you take a writing class, you may be told that the essence of fiction is conflict, and that there can be no story, or at least no interesting story, without it. This is one of those books that dispels that notion. There is no conflict here, no drama, no tension, very little suspense -- and it's absolutely delightful. Your kids will be grinning ear-to-ear throughout. There isn't even (gasp!) a villain. The world in this book is a world filled with smart, kind, if eccentric, children and adults -- easy-going, humorous, friendly, and utterly charming. The pleasure in the story comes from watching them hatch and carry out their dingbat plan (hanging up fishing nets so they can practice throwing and hitting without losing the ball in their village teetering on the edge of the sea), and then seeing the city through their eyes.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about the scenario of the book. What would your town or city look like to someone who had never seen anything but their own home? What assumptions might they make?

Book details

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