"Egan's picture books tend to be characterized as offbeat, and this one certainly qualifies, but here the quirkiness doesn't overwhelm a rewarding story of friendship, fulfilling one's potential, and discovering one's best self."Horn Book Horn Book
"The expressions on Egan’s tubby George and Martha–like figures add tongue-in-cheek undertones to this tale of friendship surviving adversity. . . . This story will elicit chortles from young readers as well as an appreciation for the loyalty the differently talented buddies display." —Booklist Booklist, ALA
"...It is the perfectly paced narrative arc and fully satisfying conclusion...that will guarantee it wide audience appeal." Bulletin of the Center for Children's Books
"Egan's story...offers universal lessons about loyalty, persistence, and other character traits that make someone a real winner...It's a homerun." Christian Science Monitor
Egan's (Serious Farm) animal characters' small-town reticence and sly sidelong glances suggest a Keillor-esque wit at work. This homespun story introduces best friends Sam and Jackson, a baseball-loving horse and cat. Sam is "an amazing athlete"-an equine Natural-whose easy stance radiates composure. "Jackson was another story.... He was the slowest cat anyone had ever seen." Both try out for the local team, the Grazers, but Jackson (despite a powerful throwing arm) can't make the cut. A split-panel page shows the cat moping on his stoop while Sam, down at the field, gets ready to bat. Both are so unhappy that Sam strikes out repeatedly, and Jackson overhears the complaints. ("That horse is a disgrace," a bull gripes to a hippo, mocking fandom as well as the semi-peaceable kingdom Egan envisions.") Afterward, Jackson secretly takes a job as a roasted-peanut vendor, making use of that throwing arm. In a well-scripted moment of real-man camaraderie, Jackson reveals his presence by heckling Sam from the stands ("You see that stick you're holding?... You want to use that to hit the little ball they throw at you"). The delighted Sam duly hits a home run, and their buddy act becomes a main attraction. Egan invents a starry-eyed baseball legend of an earlier era, in which gentlemanly hues of sepia, loamy brown, mossy green and burgundy set the scene. The four-legged fans wear suit-jackets and hats, antique billboards line the stadium and-as in Egan's other books-sensitive stoics win the day. Ages 4-8. (Apr.) Copyright 2006 Reed Business Information.
Sam is a horse and Jackson is a cat and they are best friends. They enjoy going to the baseball games at Grant's Field and snacking on bags of roasted peanuts. They also enjoy playing baseball and have dreams of playing professionally. Sam is a talented athlete who is immediately accepted by the local team, the Grazers. Jackson can pitch, but he just is not good enough and does not make the team. While Jackson sits on the front steps of his apartment feeling like a loser, Sam finds that playing baseball without his friend just is not much fun. In fact, he does not play as well without Jackson around. He tries to talk the cat into taking a job at Grant's Field selling peanuts but Jackson is too depressed to agreeuntil he hears folks talking about Sam. Sam is playing so badly fans are booing him at the games. Jackson's talent for pitching comes in handy when he takes on the job of selling peanuts, thus encouraging his friend, and enthralling the crowd by throwing the peanuts across the stands to the customers. The youngest sports fans will enjoy this story of baseball and friendship. 2006, Houghton Mifflin, Ages 4 to 8.
Carolyn Mott Ford
K-Gr 3-Jackson the cat and Sam the horse share a love of baseball, both watching and playing the game. Sam is a natural athlete, but Jackson is one of the slowest cats ever seen. Still, Sam encourages his buddy in his one skill-throwing. When tryouts for the local team come around, Sam easily makes it, but Jackson doesn't. Perhaps even worse, the feline's self-pity threatens Sam's happiness, and his performance. In the end, Jackson finds a way to use his talent in the stadium, supports his pal, and becomes a legend in his own right. More than a tale about baseball, this story is about the nature of true friendship, and about the ability to be happy about someone else's accomplishments. Egan's typically droll animal characters express emotions well. However, the ink-and-watercolor illustrations have a static quality that doesn't convey the movement of the game. Still, the understated humor of the text lightens the message and makes the story more appealing-as when the animal crowd yells at Sam, "Go back to the farm!" Baseball fanatics or not, most children will enjoy this charming tale.-Robin L. Gibson, Granville Parent Cooperative Preschool, OH Copyright 2006 Reed Business Information.
Sam and Jackson love to sit and watch baseball at Grant's Field. But when Sam, a horse who's an amazing athlete, makes the local team, Jackson, who is a very slow cat, albeit with a great arm, does not. It isn't fun for either friend when they're apart, and Sam hits badly until Jackson starts selling peanuts in the stands. Jackson uses his great arm to pitch peanut bags into the lap of whoever orders them, and Sam plays like a dream. They reach the final game, with the score tied in the bottom of the ninth with a cow on third and Sam at bat, when a request for peanuts a hundred rows away gets Jackson to rise to the occasion-and Sam, too. Gently rounded and anthropomorphized animals populate this tale, and Jackson in particular, with his patient whiskered face, is a charmer. Egan's ink and watercolors use sculptural forms and an autumnal palette; the stands are full of dogs and pigs and other animal folk in vaguely 19th-century dress. Dead-pan humor with a pitch-perfect aim. (Picture book. 4-8)