cover image The Red Ball

The Red Ball

Joanna Yardley. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt P, $14.95 (0pp) ISBN 978-0-15-200894-9

In pursuit of her favorite red ball, Joanie comes across a box of old photographs in the attic. She soon finds herself entering the world captured in the pictures, still trying to retrieve her ball, which appears in the photos first in the hands of a baby, then in those of a progressively older girl and woman. The figure in the photos is, in fact, Joanie's grandmother, who had given Joanie the toy from her own childhood. Yardley's treatment of the timeless theme of the generations' continuity is neither distinctive nor inventive; her text plods forward (``In and out of the pictured past Joanie followed the red ball''). Despite the technical accomplishments of the illustrations--sepia tones replicate the feeling of aged photographs, and light and shadow are used to good effect--their composition is wooden, and even the characters that are not depicted as photo images seem frozen in posture and expression. Ages 4-8. (Sept.)