Randy Riley's Really Big Hit

( 3 )

Overview

Randy likes space, robots, and baseball, but he can't ace everything . . . or can he? Chris Van Dusen knocks one out of the park with a comical ode to ingenuity.

Randy Riley loves two things: science and baseball. When it comes to the solar system, the constellations, and all things robot, Randy is a genius. But on the baseball diamond? Not so much. He tries . . . but whiffs every time. Then, one night, Randy sees something shocking through his Space Boy telescope: it’s a ...

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Overview

Randy likes space, robots, and baseball, but he can't ace everything . . . or can he? Chris Van Dusen knocks one out of the park with a comical ode to ingenuity.

Randy Riley loves two things: science and baseball. When it comes to the solar system, the constellations, and all things robot, Randy is a genius. But on the baseball diamond? Not so much. He tries . . . but whiffs every time. Then, one night, Randy sees something shocking through his Space Boy telescope: it’s a fireball, and it’s headed right for his town! Randy does the math, summons all of his science smarts, and devises a plan that will save the day in a spectacular way. Once again, Chris Van Dusen winds up his visual humor, dizzying perspectives, perfect pacing, and rollicking rhyme and delivers a hit to make readers stand up and cheer.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
In this retro rhyming tribute to mind over batter, Van Dusen (King Hugo’s Huge Ego) casts a wide net: anyone who’s a fan of nerds, “Casey at the Bat,” classic science fiction, or mid-century design should find something to like in these eye-popping pages. The bespectacled hero is a kid who adores baseball but can’t hit the side of a barn; his real talent lies in astronomy and astrophysics (“He studied all the planets./ He memorized their tilt./ He researched how the thrusters/ on the rocket ships were built”). When Randy spots a “massive fireball” hurtling toward Earth, a geek’s gotta do what... well, you know: he invents a giant robot that hits a homer that saves the entire world. Van Dusen ramps up the action by having the goofiness unfold in the shiny, candy- colored suburbia of the early 1960s. For young readers, it’s an opportunity to encounter a strange civilization where coffee tables are kidney-shaped and mothers wear skirts even when they’re not at work; they’ll appreciate hitching a ride on Van Dusen’s time machine. Ages 4–7. Agent: Writers House. (Feb.)
From the Publisher
Van Dusen’s tale is inventive and humorous. Randy is a lovably nerdy genius who is admired for his brains and is part of a team that doesn’t seem to mind his poor batting average. Gouache paintings use clean crisp lines and sharp, bright colors in a variety of perspectives. Everything from the cars in the driveways to the living-room décor places the events in pre-computer, mid-20th-century America. A cunning twist on the heroic home run that wins the game.
—Kirkus Reviews

With all the bases covered-musical text, entertaining artwork, and surefire subject matter-this title bats 1,000 for group or lapsit read-alouds.
—School Library Journal

Children's Literature - Ken Marantz and Sylvia Marantz
Randy Riley may be a genius, but he just cannot hit a baseball. Rollicking rhymes describe his fascination with and knowledge of outer space, however. Depressed by his failure at baseball, Randy sets up his robots to play instead. One night, through his telescope, he spots a fireball that he calculates will crash into his town in nineteen days. His parents will not listen, so Randy decides it is up to him. While others play, he works away. When the arrival of the fireball is officially announced and panic erupts, Randy is ready with a huge robot carrying an old smokestack. The robot hits his first home run, knocking the fireball "out of sight." From then on, Randy's baseball playing is just fine with his friends. The large, double-page gouache scenes are filled with naturalistic details; the characters are a bit exaggerated. We watch Randy create his giant robot and see the "booming CRASH!" as it hits the fireball, filling the pages with bright yellow flashes. The momentary scare is quickly and humorously dispelled on the subsequent pages, as our young hero again swings at the pitch, and misses. Reviewer: Ken Marantz and Sylvia Marantz
School Library Journal
K-Gr 3—Rhythmic, rollicking verse tells the tale of a young science geek, whose hapless efforts on the baseball field cause his teammates to hang their heads. Randy just can't help it. Both on and off the diamond, his thoughts turn more instinctively to planets, scientific equations, and robots: "…something beyond baseball/brought a smile to Randy's face/What Randy Riley really loved/was stuff from outer space!" Spying a giant fireball hurtling toward Earth through his Space Boy telescope one night, the boy frantically warns his parents—only to be sent back to bed. Undeterred, he secretly proceeds to construct a massive, top-secret robot in the backyard shed, which he unveils after the local news finally warns of the fireball's approach. The citizens watch in amazement as Randy guides the gargantuan robot to a deserted old mill, where it cracks off a smokestack and bats the fireball back into space. Randy's engineering talents have clearly saved the day. The crisp cartoon illustrations, rendered in brightly colored gouache, impart a retro small-town world with many expressive and amusing details. Full-bleed spreads delight readers with their varied and exaggerated perspectives, from under the catcher's mitt to bird's-eye views of the town. With all the bases covered—musical text, entertaining artwork, and surefire subject matter—this title bats 1,000 for group or lapsit read-alouds.—Kathleen Finn, St. Francis Xavier School, Winooski, VT
Kirkus Reviews
Randy's first and only home run saves his town from disaster. Thinking about gravity and probability generally prevents Randy from hitting the ball. He likes baseball, but his real love is science. He researches information about planets, calculates light years, studies the night sky and has a collection of robots. One night he sees the glimmer of a huge fireball headed straight for Earth. He plots its trajectory and realizes that it will hit his own town in 19 days. No one believes his warnings, so he contrives a plan that utilizes all his scientific and mathematical skills. He constructs a giant robot, precisely times the entry of fireball and, whoosh, the robot swings his smokestack bat and hits the fireball back into space. Told briskly in the rhyme scheme and cadence of "Casey at the Bat," Van Dusen's tale is inventive and humorous. Randy is a lovably nerdy genius who is admired for his brains and is part of a team that doesn't seem to mind his poor batting average. Gouache paintings use clean crisp lines and sharp, bright colors in a variety of perspectives. Everything from the cars in the driveways to the living-room décor places the events in pre-computer, mid-20th-century America. A cunning twist on the heroic home run that wins the game. (Picture book. 5-9)
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780763649463
  • Publisher: Candlewick Press
  • Publication date: 2/14/2012
  • Pages: 32
  • Sales rank: 94,263
  • Age range: 4 - 8 Years
  • Lexile: 660L (what's this?)
  • Product dimensions: 9.90 (w) x 11.40 (h) x 0.60 (d)

Meet the Author

Chris Van Dusen

Chris Van Dusen is the author-illustrator of King Hugo's Huge Ego and The Circus Ship, and the illustrator of the best-selling Mercy Watson books by Kate DiCamillo. He lives in Maine.

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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 5
( 3 )
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Sort by: Showing all of 3 Customer Reviews
  • Posted June 22, 2014

    Fun and amusing!

    This is my grandson's forth most favorite book. Chris Van Dusen's books are the only books he wants me to read. All his other books are just gathering dust. Spiderman and Bat Man are no longer his first choice.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted September 13, 2013

    I sent this book to my 3 year old great-nephew for his birthday

    I sent this book to my 3 year old great-nephew for his birthday and he loved it!
    It was his favorite book from the library. His reaction to my niece was, " Mom, the library book, I'm soooooooo happy!" If it made a 3 yr old that happy, it must be good! From Luvthebogo

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  • Anonymous

    Posted March 16, 2013

    Outstanding book! So far I have liked all of his books....my son

    Outstanding book! So far I have liked all of his books....my son is 5 and daughter 7 and they love it. 

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