An egotistical giraffe pitcher ultimately strikes out when his competitive spirit places his own self-interest above his teammate.
Boyd dominates baseball games with his athletic pitches, but his supportive teammate Arnold Armadillo's natural instinct to retreat for cover whenever the ball draws near starts a losing streak. Boyd faces a moral and spiritual dilemma after he scares the skunk groundskeeper (causing quite the stink) and fails to communicate the change in practice location to his uncoordinated friend. Boyd's ego initially overrides his conscience, but Coach's biblical lecture quickly sets him straight. Boyd welcomes Arnold back to the fold, and the armadillo clinches the score, though whether by chance or God's intercession remains unclear. The narrative's unlikely outcome, in which winning remains the reward, seems to stunt the characters' growing humility. The bland illustrations seek to project humor in the details. Boyd wears a clothespin to stifle the skunk's fumes, for instance. Unbelievable, earnest dialogue expresses Boyd's beliefs: “Thank you, God, for a great game!” Coach's redirection fails in both subtlety and developmental appropriateness in one fell swoop. “Well, I know a great umpire that will help you make good decisions in life. That umpire's name is PEACE.” Boyd's immediate change of heart fails to address the realistic complexities of Christians' walk in faith.
The heavy-hoofed message stomps any legitimate sense of serenity. (Picture book. 4-7)