CASEY AT THE BAT

A BALLAD OF THE REPUBLIC SUNG IN THE YEAR 1888

Of the making of Caseys there seems no end, but here the illustrator of John Lithgow’s Remarkable Farkle McBride (2000) delivers the chestnut with such broad, satirical panache that only the dourest of spoilsports will be able to resist going along for the ride. From the rows of bowler-topped gents in the stands to the well-groomed hairs in Casey’s handlebar, every detail is both larger than life, and painted with crystal clarity. A mighty figure indeed, Casey strides to the plate with lordly assurance, casually takes two strikes, then gears up for the next pitch; Payne zeroes in on Casey’s suddenly-choleric face—steam blasting from his ears—then pulls back to depict a whiff so prodigious that the batter’s whole body disappears into a swirling blur. But a whiff it is, and a view of a deserted, muddy street captures the forlorn tone of the final verse. Finished off with a detailed account of the poem’s history, this may not supercede Christopher Bing’s Caldecott Honor–winning rendition (2000) for period flavor, but it does capture the episode’s epic scale and perfectly tuned melodrama. (Picture book/poetry. 7-10)

Pub Date: March 1, 2003

ISBN: 0-689-85494-3

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: June 24, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 15, 2002

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Deliberately inspirational and tinged with nostalgia, this will please fans but may strike others as overly idealistic.

STICKS AND STONES

Veteran picture-book creator Polacco tells another story from her childhood that celebrates the importance of staying true to one’s own interests and values.

After years of spending summers with her father and grandmother, narrator Trisha is excited to be spending the school year in Michigan with them. Unexpectedly abandoned by her summertime friends, Trisha quickly connects with fellow outsiders Thom and Ravanne, who may be familiar to readers from Polacco’s The Junkyard Wonders (2010). Throughout the school year, the three enjoy activities together and do their best to avoid school bully Billy. While a physical confrontation between Thom (aka “Sissy Boy”) and Billy does come, so does an opportunity for Thom to defy convention and share his talent with the community. Loosely sketched watercolor illustrations place the story in the middle of the last century, with somewhat old-fashioned clothing and an apparently all-White community. Trisha and her classmates appear to be what today would be called middle schoolers; a reference to something Trisha and her mom did when she was “only eight” suggests that several years have passed since that time. As usual, the lengthy first-person narrative is cozily conversational but includes some challenging vocabulary (textiles, lackeys, foretold). The author’s note provides a brief update about her friends’ careers and encourages readers to embrace their own differences. (This book was reviewed digitally with 11-by-18-inch double-page spreads viewed at actual size.)

Deliberately inspirational and tinged with nostalgia, this will please fans but may strike others as overly idealistic. (Picture book. 7-10)

Pub Date: Oct. 6, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-5344-2622-1

Page Count: 48

Publisher: Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: Aug. 18, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 2020

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DINOSAURS GALORE!

A dozen familiar dinosaurs introduce themselves in verse in this uninspired, if colorful, new animal gallery from the authors of Commotion in the Ocean (2000). Smiling, usually toothily, and sporting an array of diamonds, lightning bolts, spikes and tiger stripes, the garishly colored dinosaurs make an eye-catching show, but their comments seldom measure up to their appearance: “I’m a swimming reptile, / I dive down in the sea. / And when I spot a yummy squid, / I eat it up with glee!” (“Ichthyosaurus”) Next to the likes of Kevin Crotty’s Dinosongs (2000), illustrated by Kurt Vargo, or Jack Prelutsky’s classic Tyrannosaurus Was A Beast (1988), illustrated by Arnold Lobel, there’s not much here to roar about. (Picture book/poetry. 7-9)

Pub Date: March 1, 2005

ISBN: 1-58925-044-3

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Tiger Tales

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2005

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