Joy in Mudville

illus. by Glin Dibley. 32p. Carolrhoda. Apr. 2014. RTE $17.95. ISBN 9780761360155; ebk. $12.95. ISBN 9781467709538. LC 2013018619.
K-Gr 3—The day after Mighty Casey's infamous strikeout, the Mudville Nine has fallen to second place and in the late innings of the game struggles to hold onto its lead. Rookie Joy Armstrong is brought in to save the game as the startled fans boo. Lanky, pink bubble-blowing Joy is unfazed by the fans' reaction: "She'd show them soon enough that girls/excel in many sports." Joy faces Jackson, a lumbering giant, and surprises him with a football snap thrown between her legs and a high tennis lob. With Jackson behind in the count, Joy's last pitch is a basketball jump shot that the batter bunts, but she uses her soccer skills to make the play at the plate. Sometimes the rhymes sound forced and awkward, but the appealing broad humor wins out. Cartoon illustrations complement and add to the silly goings-on. For example, the umpire's attire changes to a football referee, a tennis line judge, and as he calls the runner out at home, he's wearing soccer shorts and waving a red card. There's a not-so-subtle message here, but it's delivered with pitch-perfect tone. This playful retelling wins a place for itself alongside the many iterations of Casey's tale.—Marilyn Taniguchi, Beverly Hills Public Library, CA
When the Mudville Nine drop to second place, a (gasp) female pitcher is called in. Readers will correctly predict that Joy will triumph on the mound, but the innings hold many pleasures, including rat-a-tat-tat rhymes (well, a few are missing their second "tat") and Joy's innovative methods: she employs techniques from other sports that Dibley captures in his caricaturish illustrations.

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