The New York Times - Pamela Paul
Told in hilarious and nearly wordless panels…and a subdued palette, Ball is one long joke, but a good one.
Illustrator Sullivan (Field of Peace) makes a hilarious debut as an author by touring the brain of a ball-obsessed dog. The dog’s googley eyes, droopy snout, and oversize midriff provide comedy of their own, and he’s even funnier when paneled sequences show him charging after his red ball, complete with puffs of smoke to signal blazing speed. “Ball!” he thinks (or sometimes “Ball?”); it’s the book’s only word. The dog’s curly headed owner is delighted to play with him, but after she leaves for school he’s stuck with her meditating mother and a squalling baby. He tries listlessly to amuse himself, then dozes off. His dreams are a parade of mad, creative whimsy. A tiered cake dotted with balls, a monstrous baby, and an interstellar game of chase climax with a journey down the toilet and through a maze of pipes. It’s a paean to the neurotic single-mindedness of dogs, and a brilliant study of boredom. Readers will greet the moment when the girl arrives home with almost as much relief as the dog—and they’ll eagerly await Sullivan’s next book. Ages 4–8. Agent: Justin Rucker, Shannon Associates. (Apr.)
From the Publisher
"Illustrator Sullivan makes a hilarious debut as an author by touring the brain of a ball-obsessed dog. . . . It's a paean to the neurotic single-mindedness of dogs, and a brilliant study of boredom."
—Publishers Weekly, starred review
"A humorous portrait of a dog with a one-track mind. . . . A fine choice for independent readers and dog lovers everywhere."
—School Library Journal
"Deceptively simple little winner for dog lovers."
"Everything from the dog's brief encounter with a cat to his extended, ball-centric dream, told in full-page drawings, will make viewers giggle along with the story. Even those who have never had or wanted a dog will find themselves pining for a canine companion with similarly irresistible exuberance."
"Sullivan deftly captures doggy poses that run the spectrum from ecstasy to dejection. . . this will be a natural decode-alone for kids who are accustomed to parsing pictures, and they'll delight in the ability to read it all themselves."
"Ball is one long joke, but a good one. . . . Get this dog a frisbee and a follow-up."
—The New York Times Online
Children's Literature - Cailin Hostad
In this sweet story about the day of a dog and the little girl he loves, only one word is ever written: “ball.” But with punctuation and illustration, the dog’s emotions are evident. His day begins by waking up and playing fetch with his girl before she leaves for school. Left at home and lonely, the dog tried to find someone else to play with him, starting with the girl’s mother, the baby, the cat, and even the laundry basket. Eventually he falls asleep and dreams of a cake decorated with the same red ball, a tense tennis game, and even flying through space chasing his ball, along with other adventures! At the end of the day, his friend returns home to play again. Parents and children alike will find the dog’s antics entertaining, and young readers will enjoy using their imaginations to fill in the rest of the story. Even though there is just one word used, the story comes through loud and clear. Reviewer: Cailin Hostad; Ages 4 to 7.
School Library Journal
K-Gr 2—A humorous portrait of a dog with a one-track mind. Ball is a day-in-the-life portrait of a rumpled canine who lives and breathes to play fetch with his favorite human companion. When the girl goes to school, the dog is bereft; his beloved ball is lifeless. He tries to find other companions to fill the ball-throwing gap, but the adult is meditating, the baby isn't even mobile, and the cat is, well, a cat. The dog tries hiding the ball and then "finding" it, and eventually falls asleep and experiences an amusing ball-themed dream sequence that turns into a nightmare. At long last the pup's anguish is relieved as the girl comes home from school and they resume their happy rapport. The only text is the word "ball" repeated on every page; however, Sullivan adroitly infuses the canine with a wide variety of emotions, and a great deal can be read into that single word. The book uses a comic-strip layout for most of the pages, with a few spreads during the dream sequence. The digitally colored pencil drawings are full of action and energy and employ a muted palette dominated by yellows and oranges that give the book a warm 1970s feel. The proliferation of extra textures and flourishes that break the panels creates a lived-in, disheveled look to the drawings, which suits the bug-eyed, warts-and-all style used for the figures. A fine choice for independent readers and dog lovers everywhere.—Anna Haase Krueger, Ramsey County Library, White Bear Lake, MN
The single word "ball" comprises the text of this visual chronicle of a day in the life of a dog and his ball. An unnamed, roly-poly pooch lies curled on a little girl's bed with a ball in his mouth. As the girl wakes up, she yells, "BALL," and enthusiastically tosses it. To the dog's utter joy, the girl continues tossing the ball while she dresses, but, alas, she leaves him alone with his ball when she heads off to school. Failing to entice the meditating mother, the puzzled baby and the freaked-out cat to play ball, the dog finally takes a nap on the girl's bed, dreaming wild dreams about his ball until the girl returns from school--just in time to play ball all over again. As the day progresses, the word "ball" reappears in bubbles above the dog's head with variations in punctuation, size and typeface, reflecting his mood and emphasizing his obsession with the round toy. Subdued illustrations, executed in pencil and digitally colored in pale hues, carry this story, allowing the eye to zero in on that all-important bright red ball and the endearingly droll dog, whose comic facial expressions and exaggerated body language convey bewilderment, determination, frustration, disappointment, boredom, anticipation, fear and euphoria as he spends a day with his ball. Deceptively simple little winner for dog lovers. (Picture book. 4-8)