Jeter, Derek. (Mantell, Paul) Change Up (Derek Jeter #3)
April 26th 2016 by Simon & Schuster/Paula Wiseman Books
E ARC from Edelweiss Above the Treeline
Young Derek is excited because his father is finally coaching his baseball team, but is not happy because Gary, his academic archnemesis, is on the team. Gary is an idiot, and doesn't want to be on the team. His mother wants him to get into shape, and thinks that baseball is a good way for him to accomplish this. He doesn't, and comes late to practice, lies to the coach about having asthma, and constantly bedevils Derek, who then gets into trouble with his father when he reacts. Most importantly, Gary upsets the team, and they don't play well or gel as a group. Derek tries to be nice to Gary and help him improve his skills so that the team does well. His friends Dave and Vijay help a little, but his father tells him he has to solve his own problems.
Strengths: I love that Derek has a contract with his parents about grades, behaviors, and sports, and they hold him accountable for his own actions. He occasionally tries to make excuses, but they basically just have to quirk their eyebrows and he retreats with an apology and takes ownership of the problem. Since I used to "accuse" Picky Reader of things just to circumvent her "But I didn't...", I really appreciated this! The ensemble cast is strong, and the books have good lessons and lots of baseball.
Weaknesses: Dave's parents finally show up, but I think it is weird that usually Dave is cared for by the family chauffeur, who is also a coach. That just seems so unlikely to me! Maybe it's like the East Coast nannies that I don't understand.
What I really think: Paul Mantell does a fabulous job. This looks like it will go to ten books, and each book will address a certain tenet of Jeter's philosophy. I would rather they be stand alones, but they are serviceable baseball books, if a bit preachy.