Will there ever be joy in Mudville now that mighty Casey has struck out? It is the day after that awful game, and now there is a chance for redemption.
But it’s not really about Casey. He actually redeems himself when he hits a home run that puts the team ahead, but the Mudville pitcher falters by walking three straight batters in the ninth inning with two out. They don’t need Casey right now; they need a solid relief pitcher. In comes Joy, a female rookie pitcher whom the crowd greets with mistrust, boos and catcalls. Her technique is extremely unusual. She variously emulates a football snap to the quarterback, a tennis serve and a basketball dribble and jump shot. Finally, Joy kicks a bunt back to home plate for the out to save the game. And the crowd goes wild. Raczka’s sequel echoes Ernest Lawrence Thayer’s original, which appears in full following the victory. Although many of his lines are choppy, and unfortunately, the rhymes are too often tortured, the repartee between the whining batter and the umpire is delightful, as is Joy’s highly imaginative, definitely rule-breaking pitching style. In Dibly’s bright illustrations, the umpire steals some of the spotlight, as his attire and mannerisms match Joy’s other-sport pitches, and all the characters’ expressions and actions are perfectly suited to this very odd game.
The old ball game is still great fun. (Picture book. 5-9)