Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
Best's (Taxi! Taxi!) nostalgic paean to the Spaldeen, the pink rubber ball that was once a playground staple, has ample bounce at its start, yet its one-note narrative stretches the concept a bit thin. Fortunately, Palmisciano's (previously teamed with Best for Getting Used to Harry) oil pastel pictures keep these busy pages fresh; she endows the animated, amusingly exaggerated characters with plenty of silly antics and facial expressions. City gal Annie would rather play ball with her "lucky Sky-High Super Pinkie" than do anything else, much to the chagrin of her teacher (who would prefer that she focus on the spelling lesson) and her aunt, father and mother (who wish that she shared their respective interests in knitting, bugs and exercise). Annie and her friends play punchball with her Pinkie only on Sundays, when the superintendent of their apartment building is away; he has already confiscated all the other kids' balls. Though Annie's ball meets the same fate, its journey there takes a surprising twist, and the girl becomes somewhat of a neighborhood celebrity. Best writes in a cheerful, colloquial voice, but the repeated bouncing, squeezing and smelling of Annie's balls here grows tiresome, and seasoned ballplayers may find her easy parting from her beloved Spaldeen suspect at story's end. Ages 6-up. (Mar.)
Children's Literature - Gisela Jernigan
Annie loves playing with her Sky-High Super Pinkie ball, also known as a Spaldeen, better than anything. After all, its "perfect for everything: punching and catching, throwing and smelling." Its also great for games of stickball and punchball, as long as it does no hit the Super's window, and become part of his collection. Bright, active illustrations help bring out the humor and fun of the picture book, which could inspire readers to buy their own Spaldeens and start bouncing, throwing and hitting.
School Library Journal - School Library Journal
K-Gr 4-Young Annie loves everything about her Spaldeen, a small, pink ball that is great to squeeze, smell, and play with. She lives for Sundays when the kids from her New York City neighborhood gather in a field to play punchball. Annie's biggest fear is that the building's superintendent will get his hands on her Pinkie and add it to the collection he's garnered from kids who have broken his written rule, "No Ball Playing or Else!" One Sunday, Annie gets "last licks" during the game and belts a tremendous drive that soars out of the playground and over trees, cars, and her apartment building and is finally caught by the super. Though he offers to return it to her, Annie decides that he should keep it for his collection. The next day, a thank-you note and a new Sky-High Super Pinkie arrive at her apartment. Brightly colored oil-pastel paintings dance across the pages mimicking the tone of the zany text. The endpapers contain quotes from a number of people, including Sandy Koufax and William Steig, about their youthful experiences with these balls. A fun read for all, Last Licks will be especially popular in areas where playing with Spaldeens is, or was, a favorite pastime.-Tom S. Hurlburt, La Crosse Public Library, WI Copyright 1999 Cahners Business Information.
Best (Top Banana, 1997, etc.) salutes the glory of the ubiquitous pink ball in a story of Annie, a ball-playing enthusiast. With her Sky-High Super Pinkie in tow wherever she goes, the thrill of playing ball is never far from Annie's thoughts. She bounces it in the classroom, at home, while brushing her teeth, and even tucks her lucky ball into her pajama pocket at bed time. The only place she doesn't let loose with her beloved Pinkie is near the building superintendent's window, which houses his collection of pink trophies confiscated from other players. When the weekly punchball game is winding down, Annie is determined to have her final shot, or "last licks," and it is a sensational hit, soaring beyond her wildest dreams. A surprise catch by the super leads to a sense of fellowship between the two. With consummate skill, Best captures the unbridled energy of a good ball game and the camaraderie of a neighborhood united in a timeless activity. Palmisciano's bright illustrations convey the suspense of the tale as well as a view of life in a bustling cityscape. (Picture book. 5-9) .