Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
The Big Brother of this dystopian tale is Boss, a former baseball star so embittered by a run of bad luck that he vows to outlaw baseball forever. Amassing piles of money, buying control of the media and declaring himself head of the country, he realizes his aim and then some: even the use of baseball slang (``screwball,'' ``hit'') becomes grounds for arrest by his Factory Police. Without the game, America sinks into a literal perpetual winter, until young Georgie Radbourn beats Boss at a winner-take-all contest on Boss's old turf, striking him out neatly and thus returning the game, and the warmer seasons, to a grateful nation. Even Shannon's ( The Rough-Face Girl ) art is gloomy, sometimes oppressive--heavy oils in muted, dark colors and with mostly blurred expressions, save for the grotesquely outsized Boss. The central conceit--that life without baseball is scarcely worth living--may strike all but the most avid fans as precious and thin, and adult points of reference are needed to clarify the story. A ponderous and disappointing outing. All ages. (Apr.)
Children's Literature - Susie Wilde
Imagine a future where we've lost the American tradition of baseball. This picture book features Boss Swaggart, a nasty ballplayer who is caught in a slump and decides to end baseball forever. He convinces the American people that everyone will make money if they build factories instead of baseball parks The public buys the idea and Boss Swaggart forbids baseball, plunging the country into depression and an endless winter. However, when Georgie Radbourn begins to speak, everything that comes out of his mouth is a forbidden baseball term. The book ends as he strikes out Boss and saves baseball. The world then breaks out in spring. I think children wish for a world like Georgie's where right and wrong, hero and villain are crystal clear, and children feel powerful and triumphant.
School Library Journal
K-Gr 4-Baseball fans of many ages will revel in this story. After being booed and jeered by the home crowd during a terrible slump, Boss Swaggert storms off the field never to play baseball again, vowing that someday the sport would be declared illegal. Becoming rich and powerful over the years, he buys up the media and extols the evils of the game. Eventually, having all of America believing him, he has the president arrested for ``Conspiracy to Commit Baseball'' for throwing out the first ball of the season, declares himself Chief Executive Officer of America, and outlaws the game. Without baseball, spring never comes and the winter months turn slowly into freezing years. Enter Georgie Radbourn, who inexplicably utters sayings about baseball every time he opens his mouth and ends up on trial before his 10th birthday. This eventually leads to a showdown between him and Swaggert, and a happy ending ensues. Shannon's dark, somber paintings, somewhat reminiscent of William Joyce's work, dramatically portray the mood of the story, brightening at the end while illustrating Georgie's triumph. A home run!-Tom S. Hurlburt, La Crosse Public Library, WI
From the Publisher
"What would a world without baseball be like? Shannon gives us a glimpse of it in this...picture book, complete with echoes of an Orwellian future that might make it a discussion starter for kids well beyond picture-book age."--BOOKLIST
"children wish for a world like Georgie's where right and wrong, hero and villain are crystal clear, and children feel powerful and triumphant."--CHILDREN'S LITERATURE
"fans will enjoy the many baseball references cleverly inserted here; Georgie, for instance, recalls Charles ("Old Hoss") Radbourn, the 19th century's greatest pitcher."--KIRKUS REVIEWS
Children's Literature - Suzanna E. Henshon
George Radbourn was born in a snow-filled world. It was winter everywhere in America, from Los Angeles to New York. Baseball was recently declared illegal, and spring no longer exists. Many years ago, baseball was the American pastime. One fatal day, a young ball player named Boss Swaggert struck out. Soon Boss storms off the field and begins a campaign to make playing baseball illegal. He forces America to outlaw its beloved sport, and winter falls throughout the land. Boss confiscates baseball equipment. Then bulldozers plow through baseball fields. Around this time, George Radbourn is born. The baby sprinkles baseball jargon into his everyday speech. One day George is caught making a baseball reference, and the trial of the century begins. George challenges Boss to a baseball game. For the first time ever, George steps on the pitcher's mound, and immediately feels at home. Then Boss strikes out, and wonderful things start to happen. The snow melts, revealing a beautiful green baseball diamond. Spring returns to the land, and people start playing baseball again. In this delightful and entertaining story, David Shannon takes readers on a wonderful adventure, with well-crafted text and illustrations. Reviewer: Suzanna E. Henshon, Ph.D.