Matt and his two friends get the chance to travel back in time to 1951 so he can try to help his grandfather become a major league baseball player.
Grandpa Joe was ready to join the New York Giants when he hurt his leg dancing. Now he trains 12-year-old Matt to pitch but still regrets missing his chance. Happily, the librarian at Matt’s middle school, a nice but quirky lady, turns out to be a time traveler, and she helps Matt and his friends Luis and Grace travel back to July 4, 1951, to attend Uncle Alex’s party and try to save Grandpa Joe. Once there, the children are amazed by the different styles and the awful green gelatin mold that nobody wants to eat. But Grandpa Joe turns out to be at a double header in Ebbets Field, and Matt cannot resist the opportunity to see the historic baseball park and to watch heroes Jackie Robinson and Willie Mays play. Concerns about meddling with time emerge: if they can save Grandpa Joe from his accident, will that cause something much worse to happen? And will the children make it back to the present or be stuck forever in the past? Slapstick moments abound, but the focus remains mostly on Matt’s wonder at seeing his grandpa as a young man and actually being present at Ebbets Field. Matt and Grace are white; Luis is Latino.
This series kickoff is a pleasant glimpse of popular history for graduates of the Magic Tree House. (Science fiction. 8-12)