cover image The Pizza Pie Slugger

The Pizza Pie Slugger

Jean Marzollo, Blanche Sims. Random House Books for Young Readers, $3.99 (62pp) ISBN 978-0-394-82881-7

Billy is one of the best hitters on his Little League team, Castle Pizza, sponsored by his father's pizza parlor. But Billy has been in a batting slump, which he blames on Lily, his 18-month-old half sister, who calls out ``hit-a-hit-a-hit-a-hit'' whenever he's at bat. His father and grandfather have suggestions for Billy, but the most practical one seems to come from his mother. She and her new husband, and their daughter Lily, will simply stay away from the games. At first Billy is delighted, but he soon misses Lily's chatter and his mother's support. And it isn't until the last play-off game that Billy realizes that families--and baseball--are like pizza, and each person (or piece) helps to make up the whole. Marzollo deftly uses baseball and pizza to probe the inner workings of families and friends. Billy's worries about his hitting, his love/hate feelings for his half sister and his confusion about his family are realistically and sensitively portrayed. The black-and-white illustrations are fresh and funny, scoring a home-run combination with the text. Ages 7-9. (June)