It is springtime in Pleasant Valley, home of Albert the duck, the hero of several previous books by Leslie Tryon, including Albert's Thanksgiving and Alberts Alphabet. What is the industrious Albert involved in this time? Springtime is the opening season for America's favorite pastime. It's time to play ball, and Albert turns his energies to coaching the local team. There are beanballs and knuckleballs, fly balls and foul balls and maybe even a home run in a game full of the ...
It is springtime in Pleasant Valley, home of Albert the duck, the hero of several previous books by Leslie Tryon, including Albert's Thanksgiving and Alberts Alphabet. What is the industrious Albert involved in this time?
Springtime is the opening season for America's favorite pastime. It's time to play ball, and Albert turns his energies to coaching the local team. There are beanballs and knuckleballs, fly balls and foul balls and maybe even a home run in a game full of the joys and mishaps that all such games entail. Leslie Tryon's artwork is full of Spring Valley's familiar friends as well as heartwarming detail that places the reader smack in the middle of the park. An outing to be cherished.
As springtime comes to Pleasant Valley, everyone who is anyone, which is of course everyone, plays ball.
Easily eclipsing her brief narrative, Tryon's (Albert's Alphabet; Albert's Thanksgiving) rollicking gouache art scores the biggest hit here, displaying the nattily clad animal residents of Pleasant Valley engaged in their favorite rite of spring: playing and watching baseball. Albert, cast as team manager, is curiously absent from most of Tryon's busy illustrations, an omission that may bewilder the amiable duck's fans. But panels and full-page pictures depict plenty of good-natured mayhem, and tracking the capricious "beanballs," "knuckleballs" and "chuckle balls" pitched in the riotous game will keep kids on their toes. The teammates' facial expressions are especially comical as batters try to outwit fielders by sending "stray balls and spray balls, curve balls and swerve balls." Some visual highlights: spectators balance a beach ball as they perform the "wave"; and a frog and an ostrich who have collided in the outfield stare forlornly at a fly ball that has fallen to the ground. Perky. Ages 5-8. (Apr.)
- Armin A. Brott
It's springtime in Pleasant Valley and that means it's time to dust off the old bats and gloves and play ball! Albert the duck, hero of several previous books by the same author is managing two rag-tag teams of animals as they throw beanballs, mean balls, low balls and toe balls at each other in the season opener. A great way to introduce kids to the fun and excitement of baseball.
- Susie Wilde
Tryon's animals bring humor to a stadium game where the monkey pitcher throws "bean balls and mean balls." There is a bunny who shags a ball in his trumpet. The beaver fans rise in the stands to become part of a wave. Albert the goose stars here in his fifth book. This introduces the sport of baseball in a way younger children can understand and appreciate. This may lead to home run reading in your house.
School Library Journal
PreS-Gr 2-A light, breezy, feel-good book. It's spring, and, for the animals of Pleasant Valley, that means baseball season has begun. Albert the duck, who appeared in Tryon's earlier books, is the team manager. Rather than substance, the rhyming text and art provide color, brightness, and well-behaved fun. "They pitch beanballs and mean balls, knuckleballs, and chuckleballs." Imaginative and charming gouache illustrations complement the frolicking verse. A few unusual perspectives add interest. Albert's Ballgame is for group reading or one-on-one sharing. Don't start spring training without it.-Liza Bliss, Worcester Public Library, MA
Readers new to the series may puzzle over the title, since it is hard to figure out which animal character is Albert unless you have met him in a previous volume. No matter. The real star of the book is baseball, and this celebrates fun in the old ballpark. The fine-line drawings brightened with colorful washes make the most of the comic possibilities in the lilting, rhymed verses: "They hit fly balls / and sky balls, / slow balls, / and toe balls, / They hit foul balls way back or too wide." Don't expect a story here, just action and a bit of slapstick as the hometown amateurs put on their caps and take to the field for the entertainment of their enthusiastic friends and neighbors.
The assortment of squirrels, kangaroos, monkeys, and ostriches running the bases is not to be confused with replacement players for major leaguers on strike. It is actually the Pleasant Valley Ducks, coached by Albert (Albert's Thanksgiving, 1994, etc.) who has little more than a cameo role here. Everyone at the park has a rollicking good time amid the "stray balls and spray balls, curve balls and swerve balls." While the chaotic illustrations may be a strain on the adult eye, they exactly convey the pandemonium of a hard-fought little league contest. The ending is mildly disappointing, when the focus shifts to winning and losing, in contrast with the previous concentration on the joys of the game itself. Still, as long as baseball continues as the national pastime, this delightful offering should have a life on the shelves.
Leslie Tryon is the author of the Albert books and several others for young readers. She is also the illustrator of Alma Flor Ada's Dear Peter Rabbit and With Love, Little Red Hen. She lives in Carmel Valley, California.