Joy in Mudville

Bob Raczka, illus. by Glin Dibley. Lerner/Carolrhoda, $17.95 (32p) ISBN 978-0-7613-6015-5
The Mudville Nine are looking for redemption after Mighty Casey’s disheartening strikeout the day before. It arrives in the form of a relief pitcher who, as Raczka puts it, also happens to be “a she.” Her first name, Joy, alludes to the beloved baseball poem’s last line, and her last name, Armstrong, proves an accurate description of her pitching skills, which also showcase her talents for football, tennis, and basketball. Raczka’s versifying lacks the mock-heroic cheekiness and confident lilt of Thayer’s original (reprinted at the end); the clunky rhymes (“confidence” with “cleared the fence”) and obvious messaging (“She’d show them soon enough that girls/ excel in many sports”) are the poetic equivalent of bunts. But Dibley is a visual power hitter. His settings conjure up a beautiful day on a dusty, small-town field, while his characters’ broad, red noses (an artistic signature) and imperturbable miens feel right on the mark. Ages 4–9. (Apr.)
Reviewed on: 02/10/2014
Release date: 04/01/2014
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