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We hope this review was both interesting and useful. Please share it with family and friends who would benefit from it as well.

Book Review

This book has been reviewed by Focus on the Family’s marriage and parenting magazine. This is the first book in the “Skinnybones” series.

Positive Elements

Spiritual Content

Sexual Content

Violent Content

Crude or Profane Language

Drug and Alcohol Content

Other Negative Elements


Pro-social Content

Objectionable Content

Summary Advisory

Plot Summary

Alex Frankovitch may be small for his age, but he has a big mouth that often gets him into trouble with teachers, coaches, parents and classmates. The story begins with Alex writing a joking, less-than-complimentary letter to the makers of Kitty Fritters cat food for their TV commercial contest. He spills the cat food all over and lies to his mom about how it got there. Meanwhile, the cat overeats and throws up on Alex’s shoe.

Every year, Alex wins an award for being the most improved in baseball. He knows this is the league’s way of telling him he’s not very good. His nemesis, a bully named T.J. Stoner, is an amazing athlete. When he gets tired of hearing T.J. brag, Alex pretends to be a great pitcher and challenges T.J. to a pitching contest. Alex later tries to get out of the contest, then attempts to diffuse the situation using humor. Ultimately, he loses badly.

When T.J.’s team is playing Alex’s much-worse team during the Little League season, T.J. lets the entire school know about the upcoming game. T.J. is set to break a league record, so even the media show up. When Alex is finally able to bunt and head for first, T.J. stands waiting on the base. Alex distracts T.J. by yelling “Booga Booga,” and T.J. drops the ball. Alex heads to second, but the umpire throws him out for unsportsmanlike conduct. He tries to argue that he hasn’t broken any rules, but his efforts fail.

At school the next day, the kids continue to tease Alex for saying “Booga Booga” at the game. Alex knows T.J. broke the record and will get a lot of publicity. Feeling miserable, Alex is called to the office. He learns he has won the Kitty Fritters contest and will be in a TV commercial. Suddenly, he will have some fame of his own.

Christian Beliefs

Alex’s family attends church. He thanks God when he thinks people have come to the field to attend a graduation ceremony rather than watch his ballgame. When he realizes this isn’t the case, Alex tells God it would be a nice gesture for God to make it up to him. He suggests several ways in which God could cause the people to leave or to cancel the game. He promises God he will go to Sunday school for the rest of his life without a fight if God will help him out. When God doesn’t give him what he wants, Alex concludes that God is not the pushover some people believe Him to be.

Another time, Alex is concerned that the coach is going to get upset. He asks God for help. He asks God if he’s done something to upset Him, like when he wore a gorilla suit in last year’s Christmas play. After Alex learns he’s going to be in a commercial, he tries to make a deal with God. If God will help him not have to dress up like cat food, he promises to stop singing achoo instead of amen at the end of hymns in church. He tells God if they have a deal, God should make the wind blow. He sees a leaf move a little and determines that God took the deal. He tells God if He ever needs a favor, He can count on Alex.

Other Belief Systems


Authority Roles

Alex’s mother doesn’t fall for his lies. Both of his parents are proud and supportive. They are used to his antics and aren’t especially shaken or surprised by them.


The words butt, geez, heck and crap appear.



Discussion Topics

Get free discussion questions for this book and others, at FocusOnTheFamily.com/discuss-books.

Additional Comments/Notes

Lying: Alex lies to his mother about a mess he makes with cat food. Alex asks his friend to lie and say that T.J.’s pitches are balls when they’re actually strikes.

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Book reviews cover the content, themes and worldviews of fiction books, not their literary merit, and equip parents to decide whether a book is appropriate for their children. The inclusion of a book's review does not constitute an endorsement by Focus on the Family.

Episode Reviews



Readability Age Range

8 to 12




Barbara Park






Record Label



Yearling, an imprint of Random House Children’s Books, a division of Penguin Random House LLC. (Original publishing, 1982; Reprint 2016)


On Video

Year Published



Texas Blue Bonnet Award, 1985


We hope this review was both interesting and useful. Please share it with family and friends who would benefit from it as well.

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