Young Derek, like so many eight-year-old boys, dreams of playing shortstop for the New York Yankees. He has talent and the will power to work hard, but his parents know that any goal requires perseverance. They encourage Derek to pursue this ambition while asking him to sign a contract with them. The contract makes playing baseball contingent on good behavior and study habits and offers rewards like attending major-league baseball games. Derek agrees, trusting in his parents’ wisdom and guidance.
Derek faces many challenges that year. Distractions in class, a coach who clearly favors his son over the other boys on their baseball team and classmates who consider his dream out of reach. In spite of all this, Derek pursues his goal with enthusiasm. He remains humble when he succeeds, redoubles his efforts when he falls short and consistently remains loyal to family and friends.
Based on Derek Jeter’s childhood experience, The Contract demonstrates how integrity and hard work eventually pay off. Although Derek does not always live up to his side of the agreement, he quickly makes amends for his mistakes and is always willing to admit when he is wrong. Most impressive is his relationship with his parents who prove to be a guiding light for Derek and his sister. They maintain high standards for their children without becoming overbearing and clearly are on the same page when it comes to priorities and values. Mother and father work as a team to give Derek the grounding he needs to respect them and have faith in himself. This self-confidence enables Derek to be a role model for his younger sister as well as his peers. Filled with blow-by-blow accounts of young Derek’s action on the field, Jeter’s first children’s book is sure to appeal to sports fans.
Jennifer Minicus is a mother and teacher living in Ridgewood, NJ.