Isaac is a great pitcher, but his father thinks he can be even better. "Practice doesn't make perfect. PERFECT practice makes perfect," is his mantra. In order to make the Thunderbolts team, he thinks he needs to pitch a perfect game, and is visibly dismayed when he doesn't. His coach asks if he knows anything about basketball, and asks if he will come and help with a team he coaches. This turns out to be a Special Olympics team. Isaac isn't thrilled about working with "retards", but the coach's daughter, Maya, quickly discourages from using this derogatory term and shows him the dedication to the game that the players exhibit. Isaac and Maya play on the team and help the others to make plays. One of the boys, Kevin, has been reluctant to work with the team, although he is quite a good shot. He warms to Isaac, and the two work on getting Kevin ready to play with the others. On the baseball front, Isaac's dad is still pressuring him to pitch perfect games, but Isaac is learning from both his baseball and basketball experiences that helping the team to win is really what is important.
As with all of Fred Bowen's books, this had lots of details about games and tables of statistics that I don't quite understand, but that my readers love. Interwoven with this is the more serious topic of Isaac's unrealistic drive and his slow acceptance of the players on the Special Olympics team. This portrayal is almost painfully realistic-- as often as teachers and parents tell children not to use the term "retard", they still do. Seeing Isaac use this term out of ignorance and then learn why it is hurtful is more helpful than all the lectures adults can deliver. Bowen also writes strong female characters, and includes helpful information at the end of the book both about historical perfect games, Fragile X syndrome, and the Special Olympics.