A fun-loving, age-appropriate look at America’s favorite pastime.

Nick's Very First Day of Baseball

A young boy is thrilled to attend his first day of baseball practice in this colorful children’s book.

Nick’s mom has just signed him up to play America’s pastime, and Nick couldn’t be more excited. In fact, he can barely wait for the first practice on Friday. His dad buys him a mitt and fits and molds it to Nick’s hand, and as the boy practices throwing by tossing crackers to his dog, Yogi, he’s consumed by thoughts of the game. When Friday finally arrives, all of Nick’s friends are on the field waiting for practice to start. Each player receives a new uniform, complete with a hat and their very own special number. (Most of the players can’t remember their numbers, though.) Coach explains the warm-up exercises that the team will do, such as jumping jacks and toe touches. He promises that they’ll start playing real baseball during the next practice, and then he sends each player home with a new baseball card. Christofora (The Hometown All Stars’ Magic Bat Day, 2013, etc.) is a Little League coach in real life, so he knows a thing or two about shaping young minds to play ball. This book is a great place for potential Joe DiMaggios to start. It would be a wonderful read for a child who, like Nick, is just about to begin playing baseball as it explains how practices are run, from donning uniforms to stretching to carousing with a team. In addition to portraying the sport as an exciting way to spend an afternoon, Christofora also focuses on the camaraderie and support that comes with being in a group. Team building is an important skill in baseball and in life, and this fact shines through in this work. The friendly cartoon baseballs in the corners of some pages are lovely additions, as well; they offer fun questions, riddles, tips, and explanations that will keep both young and old readers engaged with the story. There’s even a section at the end for children to write down their answers to questions, lest they forget. Tangeman’s illustrations, meanwhile, are splashy and vibrant, piquing readers’ interest and making the story feel even more alive.

A fun-loving, age-appropriate look at America’s favorite pastime.

Pub Date: Feb. 1, 2014

ISBN: N/A

Page Count: -

Publisher: N/A

Review Posted Online: Feb. 9, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2015

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Little Blue Truck keeps on truckin’—but not without some backfires.

LITTLE BLUE TRUCK'S VALENTINE

Little Blue Truck feels, well, blue when he delivers valentine after valentine but receives nary a one.

His bed overflowing with cards, Blue sets out to deliver a yellow card with purple polka dots and a shiny purple heart to Hen, one with a shiny fuchsia heart to Pig, a big, shiny, red heart-shaped card to Horse, and so on. With each delivery there is an exchange of Beeps from Blue and the appropriate animal sounds from his friends, Blue’s Beeps always set in blue and the animal’s vocalization in a color that matches the card it receives. But as Blue heads home, his deliveries complete, his headlight eyes are sad and his front bumper droops ever so slightly. Blue is therefore surprised (but readers may not be) when he pulls into his garage to be greeted by all his friends with a shiny blue valentine just for him. In this, Blue’s seventh outing, it’s not just the sturdy protagonist that seems to be wilting. Schertle’s verse, usually reliable, stumbles more than once; stanzas such as “But Valentine’s Day / didn’t seem much fun / when he didn’t get cards / from anyone” will cause hitches during read-alouds. The illustrations, done by Joseph in the style of original series collaborator Jill McElmurry, are pleasant enough, but his compositions often feel stiff and forced.

Little Blue Truck keeps on truckin’—but not without some backfires. (Board book. 1-4)

Pub Date: Dec. 8, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-358-27244-1

Page Count: 20

Publisher: HMH Books

Review Posted Online: Jan. 19, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 2021

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Readers can still rely on this series to bring laughs.

WRECKING BALL

From the Diary of a Wimpy Kid series , Vol. 14

The Heffley family’s house undergoes a disastrous attempt at home improvement.

When Great Aunt Reba dies, she leaves some money to the family. Greg’s mom calls a family meeting to determine what to do with their share, proposing home improvements and then overruling the family’s cartoonish wish lists and instead pushing for an addition to the kitchen. Before bringing in the construction crew, the Heffleys attempt to do minor maintenance and repairs themselves—during which Greg fails at the work in various slapstick scenes. Once the professionals are brought in, the problems keep getting worse: angry neighbors, terrifying problems in walls, and—most serious—civil permitting issues that put the kibosh on what work’s been done. Left with only enough inheritance to patch and repair the exterior of the house—and with the school’s dismal standardized test scores as a final straw—Greg’s mom steers the family toward moving, opening up house-hunting and house-selling storylines (and devastating loyal Rowley, who doesn’t want to lose his best friend). While Greg’s positive about the move, he’s not completely uncaring about Rowley’s action. (And of course, Greg himself is not as unaffected as he wishes.) The gags include effectively placed callbacks to seemingly incidental events (the “stress lizard” brought in on testing day is particularly funny) and a lampoon of after-school-special–style problem books. Just when it seems that the Heffleys really will move, a new sequence of chaotic trouble and property destruction heralds a return to the status quo. Whew.

Readers can still rely on this series to bring laughs. (Graphic/fiction hybrid. 8-12)

Pub Date: Nov. 5, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-4197-3903-3

Page Count: 224

Publisher: Amulet/Abrams

Review Posted Online: Nov. 19, 2019

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