Monday, September 01, 2014

MMGM- The Contract

Jeter, Derek and Mantell, Paul. The Contract.
September 2nd 2014 by Simon & Schuster
E ARC from Edelweiss Above the Treeline

Third grader Derek is given an essay by his teacher. He is to write about his dreams and goals, and he states that he will one day be a shortstop for the Yankees. His classmates jeer at him a little, even his friend Vijay, who is on his baseball team, but that doesn’t stop Derek from working toward his goal by doing well in school and working hard on the baseball field. Derek’s parents support him, but make it very clear that he can have lofty dreams, but has to put in the effort to achieve them. To help him, they draw up a contract for him to sign that delineates their expectations for his behavior. The Tigers Little League team is fun for Derek and Vijay, but when the new coach, Kozlowski, favors his son Pete, it is a test of Derek’s character. Not only is Pete given the coveted role of shortstop, but his bratty tactics are mainly ignored by his father. Derek is very concerned about the team, sometimes at the expense of his schoolwork, but he knows that he not only has to do his best despite obstacles on the baseball field, he has to keep his focus on doing well in school.
Strengths: Paul Mantell always does a great, well-balanced sports story, and this is no exception. There’s enough baseball play-by-plays to confuse me, some interpersonal turmoil, and a lot of information about being a good person cloaked in an interesting story. I loved the supportive and hard working parents—the father was in graduate school. This is supposed to be a series of ten, based on the principles of Jeter’s Turn 2 Foundation.
Weaknesses: I will buy this one even though Derek is portrayed as being in 3rd grade; he acts much older, especially with the homework discussed! Perhaps the plan is for the character to get older in each book, which would be fine. There was one slight historical inaccuracy if this book is indeed based on the life of Jeter, who was born in 1974. An eight track tape player is lauded as the newest thing, but by the time Jeter would have been 8, they would have already been dinosaurs.

It's Marvelous Middle Grade Monday at Ramblings of a Wannabe Scribe and What Are You Reading? day at Teach Mentor Texts and Unleashing Readers. 


  1. Interesting idea to base a series around an iconic baseball great. Hope they get their technology tie-ins matching the time period in future stories. Should hook quite a few young male readers.

  2. Anonymous10:48 AM EDT

    I guess I can appreciate this book for it's intended audience. Sports, a famous athlete, relatable situations make it sound even a reluctant reader will pick this up. Thanks for sharing!

  3. I know there is more than one young boy in our school who will like this book, will share with the middle grade teachers. Thanks!

  4. Honestly, I'm not so interested in sports stories, but it's always great to see a book where kids are encouraged to have big dreams and to (more importantly) be willing to put in the effort to achieve them. Thanks a lot for reviewing this!

  5. Thanks for sharing this title. Doesn't sound like one that I personally would ever want to read, but it is one that I want to tell my students about and perhaps purchase for my lending library. I know a lot of kids who would enjoy this story.

  6. Love Jeter's Turn 2 Foundation, so I support anything that will spread its philosophy.
    (The historical inaccuracy you found would very much bother me. Seems weird that they missed that...)

    Happy reading this week! :)

  7. I am always glad to hear about good sports stories. That is another of my book gaps. Thanks!

  8. I am a huge Yankees fan, so I am looking forward to this book. Regardless of team affiliation, I think many people support Derek's work in the Turn 2 foundation. Thank you for this honest review. I appreciated reading it---particularly the historical inaccuracy you picked out. :)

  9. My reading gap has to do with sports stories - so I'm glad to hear about titles like this one. Hope you're having a great reading week!