Batter Up, Charlie Brown!

Batter Up, Charlie Brown! illus. by Charles M. Schulz. 64p. Fantagraphics. 2014. Tr $9.99. ISBN 9781606997253.
Gr 2–5—With baseball season gearing up, Charlie Brown steps up to manage his ragtag team of players. Schulz was perhaps one of the greatest ambassadors of the game, and who better than his iconic character to depict the fickle winds of fame and glory. Three short stories comprise this collection of tales from the field as Charlie tries to instill some discipline into the always distracted Lucy, some hustle into the blanket-dependent Linus, and some compliance from his comic foil, Snoopy. Despite best efforts, the boy hits rock bottom after losing a game with 600 to zero. Just as he hopes to rally his downtrodden players, his mother makes him push Lucy in a stroller instead. How can he be expected to manage his team? Good grief! The genius of Schulz is the pathos of Charlie Brown. When he laments, "Life is just too much for me," readers will understand. The author doesn't patronize the difficulties of the young. This gift book is a departure from the publisher's collective volumes of Schulz's work, in an attempt to reach other audiences. The only problem with this edition is that it contains no original copyright dates. Comic aficionados will be frustrated with not having a sense of where and when to place these strips in the overall scope of the cartoonist's oeuvre. Save up for Fantagraphics's complete volumes instead.—Meg Allison, The Moretown School, VT

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