cover image Randy Riley’s Really Big Hit

Randy Riley’s Really Big Hit

Chris Van Dusen. Candlewick, $15.99 (32p) ISBN 978-0-7636-4946-3

In this retro rhyming tribute to mind over batter, Van Dusen (King Hugo’s Huge Ego) casts a wide net: anyone who’s a fan of nerds, “Casey at the Bat,” classic science fiction, or mid-century design should find something to like in these eye-popping pages. The bespectacled hero is a kid who adores baseball but can’t hit the side of a barn; his real talent lies in astronomy and astrophysics (“He studied all the planets./ He memorized their tilt./ He researched how the thrusters/ on the rocket ships were built”). When Randy spots a “massive fireball” hurtling toward Earth, a geek’s gotta do what... well, you know: he invents a giant robot that hits a homer that saves the entire world. Van Dusen ramps up the action by having the goofiness unfold in the shiny, candy- colored suburbia of the early 1960s. For young readers, it’s an opportunity to encounter a strange civilization where coffee tables are kidney-shaped and mothers wear skirts even when they’re not at work; they’ll appreciate hitching a ride on Van Dusen’s time machine. Ages 4–7. Agent: Writers House. (Feb.)