Friday, February 24, 2012

Casey Back at Bat, by Dan Gutman

A fun "second chance" story that references by inference the well-known poem "Casey at the Bat: a Ballad of the Republic Sung in the year 1888" first published in 1888 in the San Francisco Examiner. Baseball star Casey's team, Mudville, lost, when he let his ego dictate his critical opportunity at bat, then failed at his last and only attempt to hit the ball.

This colorful picture book in poetic form chronicles the journey of a high-flying baseball hit by that hard-luck batter, Casey, taking the fans' hopes, dreams, and imagination to the limitless skies of the world, only to come back down to reality, literally, when the ball returns to the park, landing in the hands of a player's glove. Sometimes, there is no skirting past failure, and disappointment is an unchangeable part of the folklore for this character. Doesn't mean it wasn't fun along the way, though!

Bright illustrations by Steve Johnson and Lou Fancher capture the imaginations of youngsters aged 4-9. Astute listeners who've been filled in on the history of the original poem won't take long to hone in on the newspaper clippings that appear as background for characters' outfits. Clever ruse to keep them carefully looking at each page, though the settings and situations are humorous and appealing all on their own.         

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