A boy is named captain of his baseball team and learns to navigate a variety of personalities and problems in the children’s chapter book Baseball Buddies: Building a Team.
Luis, 11, is joining a new baseball team in a new town. Most everyone seems nice enough. But when Luis is named team captain, he faces an array of problems and personalities—including Jimmie, the team’s “loud and obnoxious” star power hitter. Through the process, Luis learns leadership skills and helps to build a happy, ever-improving team.
A few writing stumbles result in confusion right out of the gate. The first words from the coach are: “Hey boys, everybody say ‘hi’ to Luis,” but the accompanying illustration reveals that two of the players are girls. The beginning also establishes a framing device in which Luis recounts the season to the rest of the team, but characters interrupt his story, speaking in the present and blurring the distinction between time frames.
The first chapter also establishes that the teammates are all friends in the present, which lessens the suspense for the trials and tribulations Luis recounts during the story. Throughout, the baseball action is often summarized matter-of-factly —“The Manatees won their next game 6-4. Then they lost the game after that.” — rather than told in vivid detail.
The book’s strength lies in its insight into player personalities and interactions. When Luis is named captain, it causes hard feelings with Aliyah, who thinks she deserved the title. Luis’s relationship with Jimmie is prickly from the start. But with effort, Luis becomes a model of understanding and capable leadership, and the team chemistry begins to gel.
The illustrations, two or three for each of the book’s 13 short chapters, are appealing in a classic, cartoony style.
Despite a rough start, Baseball Buddies is a largely enjoyable story about getting along with others and finding ways to have fun while pursuing larger goals.