MUDBALL

Did Babe Ruth really point to the bleachers and then proceed to hit a home run to that spot? This question has been argued ad infinitum since 1932. Andy Oyler’s exploits of 1903 are also part of baseball lore, if somewhat more obscure. Oyler is the shortest player in the league and he can’t buy a hit. He comes to bat in the ninth inning with two out and the bases loaded. Suddenly there’s downpour, turning the field to a muddy mess. Somehow, he hits the ball. As the opposing team scrambles through the rain and mud, the three runners score and so does Andy. Thus, Andy Oyler has hit the shortest grand-slam home run ever. Tavares employs short, simple sentences spiced with players’ confused shouts. Pencil illustrations washed with pale watercolors are filled with humorous details and delightfully expressive faces. Did it really happen? It doesn’t matter. Play Ball! (author’s note, bibliography) (Picture book. 6-10)

Pub Date: March 1, 2005

ISBN: 0-7636-2387-3

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Candlewick

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2005

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Make space for this clever blend of science and self-realization.

A PLACE FOR PLUTO

If Pluto can’t be a planet—then what is he?

Having been a regular planet for “the better part of forever,” Pluto is understandably knocked out of orbit by his sudden exclusion. With Charon and his four other moons in tow he sets off in search of a new identity. Unfortunately, that only spins him into further gloom, as he doesn’t have a tail like his friend Halley’s comet, is too big to join Ida and the other asteroids, and feels disinclined to try to crash into Earth like meteoroids Gem and Persi. Then, just as he’s about to plunge into a black hole of despair, an encounter with a whole quartet of kindred spheroids led by Eris rocks his world…and a follow-up surprise party thrown by an apologetic Saturn (“Dwarf planet has a nice RING to it”) and the other seven former colleagues literally puts him “over the moon.” Demmer gives all the heavenly bodies big eyes (some, including the feminine Saturn, with long lashes) and, on occasion, short arms along with distinctive identifying colors or markings. Dressing the troublemaking meteoroids in do-rags and sunglasses sounds an off note. Without mentioning that the reclassification is still controversial, Wade closes with a (somewhat) straighter account of Pluto’s current official status and the reasons for it.

Make space for this clever blend of science and self-realization. (Picture book. 6-8)

Pub Date: Aug. 1, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-68446-004-5

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Capstone Young Readers

Review Posted Online: April 25, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 15, 2018

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A starscape filled with visual drama and brilliance.

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  • Coretta Scott King Book Award Winner

FIREBIRD

A dancer offers encouragement to those who dream of following her onto the stage.

Copeland, a soloist with American Ballet Theater, is a rara avis, an African-American ballerina. In this, her first book for children, she establishes a dialogue with an imaginary young girl, also black, who is full of doubts. Copeland assures her that she too was “a dreaming shooting star of a girl” who worked very hard in class. Likewise, the young girl can “become a swan, a beauty, a firebird for sure.” The text is untrammeled by capital letters or periods, and the language soars into dizzying heights of lyrical fancy that barely contain her message of inspiration. Myers’ artwork, a combination of textured paintings and collage, is the true standout. His vibrant reds, golds and blues, set into the sharp-edged patterns of the backgrounds, evoke the intense drama of the Firebird ballet and pulsate with kinetic synergy. Double-page spreads depict the young girl maturing from loneliness to uncertainty to accomplishment as the ballerina practices at the barre and provides a one-on-one display of bravura technique. The New York City skyline sparkles as Copeland does jetés over a jeweled Brooklyn Bridge.

A starscape filled with visual drama and brilliance. (author’s note) (Picture book. 6-10)

Pub Date: Sept. 4, 2014

ISBN: 978-0-399-16615-0

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Putnam

Review Posted Online: June 18, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2014

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