Book review for “The Batboy and the Unbreakable Record”

I have a confession to make. I’m not a baseball fan. I actually didn’t allow any of our kids to join baseball because the games could go on and on and on (especially when they’re little). I needed the kids involved with games that had hard(-ish) start and stop times. So no baseball for us. But even given this perspective about myself, I really enjoyed Robert Skead’s book, “The Batboy and the Unbreakable Record!”

More than just baseball

This book definitely revolves around baseball and the famous pitcher from Midland Park, NJ (WOOT WOOT! Shoutout to our stomping grounds!), Johnny VanderMeer. But it’s about much more than that. The story centers on a boy named Richie Goodwin. He had to sacrifice his summer break and go to work since his father had had an accident which left him unable to work. Although he was only twelve years old and still in elementary school, he obediently went with his mother to a job interview. He initially thought he would be working with wood somehow (according to the job description), but it was actually a job interview to be the ball boy for the Cincinnati Reds.

Richie was thrilled about this turn of events and wanted to tell everyone about this stroke of luck! However, there was one particular bully that he had to face off with – Brad. They proceeded to have different races against each other, leaving Richie on the losing end of things. I really appreciated that Skead did not stick a bow on the situation by having Richie win every competition against Brad. Instead, Richie was left disappointed, angry, and confused, which more often than not, is much more true to life.

Later in the book, Richie finds himself dealing with another difficult person, his boss with the Reds named Red. Richie couldn’t seem to get a break. He even loses his beloved job at one point because of a few foolish choices he made. To top it off, he has to go home and tell his parents.

Great Life Lessons

But Skead was able to weave in some really great lessons. First, the principal talked to Richie about choosing to be encouraging to others, even those who he had disagreements and/or tension with. Later in the story, Richie’s father also spoke to him about getting along with tough people. He had also been bullied when he was younger, and his father wisely invited the bully to lunch one day. Although awkward at first, they started talking. Richie’s father was given a different perspective about that bully over lunch, and clearly, so was the bully. They ended up becoming friends.

Obviously, that doesn’t always happen. But it’s good for kids to understand that people are complicated and we can’t always understand why they behave the way they do. That doesn’t excuse bad, hurtful behavior, but we can learn to have compassion and forgiveness towards others who we may not initially feel inclined to do.

Eventually Richie gets hired back for the Reds and is given a second chance. He also apologizes to his boss, Red, for his own bad decisions. Here again is another great life lesson! We can’t control what others do or say (Red was far from gracious and kind to Richie), but we can control ourselves. And if there’s something we need to apologize for, we should (Romans 12:18).

Later in the book, Richie goes on a two-week road trip with the Cincinnati Reds and has an incredible time. Fun descriptions of VanderMeer’s shut out games were included. Even I could appreciate them!

An overall great read!

Overall, I thought this was a great book! Although I think that baseball fans will more fully resonate with some of the story, the book still is able to communicate a relatable story that can be appreciated by any elementary/middle school aged kids. Check it out!

©2024 Mud Hen Mama


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