Saturday, May 27, 2006

Hit The Ball Duck by Jez Alborough

Hit The Ball Duck
by Jez Alborough
Ages 3-6
Topics: baseball, problem-solving, teamwork

Here's a great picture book that will appeal to the tiniest baseball fans! In Hit the Ball Duck, Duck, Goat, Sheep, and Frog go to the park to play baseball. On the first pitch, Duck
"swings the bat - they hear a SWOOSH!
Then with a C-R-A-C-K the ball goes WHOOSH!
Up and up and up it flies.
"Catch it Sheep!" the pitcher cries.

But the ball gets stuck in a tree. The friends suggest various ways to get it down, but Duck decides to use the bat to knock it down:
SWISH goes the bat. But where does it fall?
On a branch in the tree. Now its stuck like the ball.

When Duck spies the glove, his friends try to stop him, but up it goes too. So Frog, who was "much too small" to catch, comes up with a team-building solution to retrieve their equipment and even catches an out!

This picture book does a great job of telling a story that's non-stop action! It's rhyming couplets and lively style will keep the attention of very young children and its use of onomatopoeic words (words that sound like the thing they describe) in large bold fonts makes this a great read aloud story. Duck is a very recognizable child - full of enthusiasm, all action, anxious to be the leader- and Frog, the brains of the group, is an amusing little hero (he carries the huge cooler out of the car while his friends say he's too small to catch).

The illustrations are brightly colored and the pages include a wide variety of rectangular vingettes, both horizontal and vertical, that keep the action flowing and keep the single park scene visually interesting. The friends are often oversized and step outside the illustration's lines. (Alborough uses this oversizing very cleverly in the last two panels so that Frog and Duck seem to be the same size.) The animal friends are goofy and rambunctious and will make children laugh.

A great little book for your favorite little slugger!

Jez Alborough has written and illustrated many wonderful children's books including Hugand My Friend Bear. There are many other Duck books including Duck's Day Out and Fix It Duck.