A lonely baseball superstar finds a new friend and rethinks his priorities.
He’s talented, popular and very rich, but something is missing that he just can’t name. On a visit to the zoo, he is fascinated by a walrus’ antics. He decides to buy it, but he meets with great resistance from the worried zookeepers. He is so determined to demonstrate his ability to care for the walrus that he completely reconfigures his huge backyard with all the accouterments a walrus could possibly need. He’s ecstatic when the zoo authorities finally agree to let the walrus go. He grooms the walrus, reads him stories and even plays catch. He is so happy that he quits baseball, but eventually he runs out of money and the walrus must go. Of course there’s a happy ending, and the two friends are reunited. It’s not really a baseball story, for the unnamed hero could just as well be a rock star or actor or business mogul. The important part is that he gives it all up for friendship and companionship. Loory builds the tale nicely with sympathetic portrayals of the hero’s loneliness and the walrus’ endearing traits. Young readers will find it all sweetly believable. Latimer’s computer-enhanced cartoons carefully follow the text and add an extra touch to the characters’ emotions. The denouement could come straight out of Field of Dreams, if that film were set in a zoo.
A bit treacly but wistful and charming. (Picture book. 4-7)