How Oscar Indigo Broke the Universe, by David Teague

Do you ever enjoy a book so much that upon finishing it you immediately wish you could sit down with the author and have a drink of, well, something hot ’cause it’s cold outside, because you want more of their words? The newly-published How Oscar Indigo Broke the Universe (And Put It Back Together Again) by David Teague (2017, 246 pages), is that kind of book. David Teague is the co-author of another time travel tale,  Saving Lucas Biggs (my review).

From the Goodreads summary:

Oscar Indigo has never been good at baseball, so naturally he’s nervous when he has to fill in for his team’s injured All-Star, Lourdes. Luckily, Oscar has a mysterious gold watch that can stop time, which he uses to fake a game-winning home run. Now Oscar’s the underdog hero of his town and even Lourdes wants to be his friend.

But the universe is a precarious place, and you can’t just steal time without any consequences. If Oscar doesn’t find a way to return the time he stole, the universe will unwind completely.

Oscar wants nothing more than to ask Lourdes for help, but what would a baseball star like her think of a guy whose fake home run actually destroyed the universe? But as he and Lourdes grow closer, Oscar understands that it isn’t always what you do that makes you special—but who you are. And that confidence just might be the key to fixing the universe.

This is a very light and fun story, and main character Oscar is irrepressible. I’ve read heaps of time travel stories, and usually the protagonist is more tense when they think they have imperiled the world. It was refreshing that Oscar remains optimistic throughout all the chaos. I appreciated that the author makes Oscar live with some disappointments–an absent father, corruption in the Little League that allows the other side an unfair advantage–yet Oscar doesn’t dwell on the negative things he cannot change.

Friendship is a big theme in this story. Oscar has been friends for years with an octogenarian in his neighborhood, and he is exploring a new friendship with Lourdes, the newest and strongest player on their multi-ethnic baseball team who happens to be a girl. Even though Oscar stinks at hitting the ball, she appreciates his team spirit. She says,

It’s one thing to keep trying when you think you’re going to succeed. And it’s a totally different thing, and a hundred times better, to keep trying even when you know your chances are one in a thousand. Your spirits keep everyone else’s up!

It was so funny how Oscar heard his favorite sports announcers in his head, “Looks like a walk-off home run from young Oscar Indigo, Suzy.” “Quite a feat, Vern.” It became hilarious when the commentary shifted to a play-by-play of a social interaction. “Already, Oscar has let the silence between himself and his teammate become painfully awkward, Suzy.” “Whoever decides to start talking first is going to have to pretend like everything is fine and jump right in, Vern.” Too great.

The time travel in this book is of the simple sort: just a couple of brief episodes of “freezing” time and a couple short trips to ballgames in the past.

If you like time travel books with a baseball theme, you might also like the Baseball Card Adventures Series, by Dan Gutman. (my review of Willie and Me: A Baseball Card Adventure.)

For more Marvelous Middle Grade Monday book reviews, follow the links at Greg Pattridge’s blog Always in the Middle.

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