Tuesday, September 23, 2014

The Contract by Derek Jeter with Paul Mantell

The Contract by Derek Jeter with Paul Mantell
Published by  Simon & Schuster Books For Young Readers/Jeter Publishing ISBN 9781481423120
Hardcover, $16.99, 160 pages

Baseball fans across the country have been watching with interest and sadness as New York Yankees captain and baseball icon Derek Jeter is playing out his last year in baseball. Many people wonder what he will do next, and his answer is : become a publisher.

Jeter has his own publishing imprint with Simon & Schuster, where he will publish books by authors he finds have an something interesting to say. The first book under the Jeter Publishing imprint is for children ages 8-12 titled The Contract. Jeter wrote it with Paul Mantell, and it is based on his own life as a Little Leaguer.

Young Derek Jeter, called 'old man' by his mom because he went to school in a suit and carrying a briefcase, is a talented baseball player and a serious student. When his classroom teacher assigns the students an essay describing their realistic future dreams, Derek really wants to write that his future plans include playing shortstop for the New York Yankees.

He discusses this with his parents, who encourage him to realize how difficult it will be, but with his excellent work ethic and determination and practice, he can do just that.

Derek signs up for Little League and ends up playing on a team with his best friend Vijay. He wants to play shortstop, but the coach's son is the star shortstop with a bad attitude.

Much of the book describes in detail many of the Little League games, and children who love baseball will so enjoy the thrilling play-by-play. But this book is also one parents should read to or with their children.

Derek would not be the great player he is today were it not for his parents. They created a contract for Derek, detailing what he needs to do to set himself on a path to achieving his dream. The items include respecting himself and others, doing his chores, being a good role model for his younger sister, maintaining good grades and the number one rule is family comes first.

The Contract not only teaches children how to be responsible, it can help parents with their own parenting skills. The Jeters are good role models for their two children, and hold them both to high standards, knowing that it is the key to raising good citizens.

I liked how important school is to Derek, how he works as hard at school as he does at baseball. And Derek is not a perfect child here; he gets frustrated and angry, but when he makes a mistake, he tries to be better.

The final scene is a sweet one, with Derek playing catch with his grandma, with whom he and his sister spend their summers. They clearly have a loving relationship, as many young children do.

I highly recommend The Contract for both children who like baseball, as well as their parents. It would make a wonderful gift for the young baseball fan in your life, and it would be a terrific addition to your child's school library.

5 of 5 stars

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