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Casey at the Bat: A Ballad of the Republic Sung in the Year 1888 (Caldecott Honor Book) Hardcover – October 1, 2000
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From Publishers Weekly
Debut children's book illustrator Bing hits a home run with this handsome faux-scrapbook treatment of Thayer's immortal poem. The original verses about baseball star Casey and the ill-fated Mudville nine appeared in the San Francisco Examiner on June 3, 1888, and Bing captures the spirit of the age with pen-and-ink illustrations that look like carefully preserved newspaper clippings, complete with slightly torn and yellowed edges. He uses cross-hatching and careful shading to create the pages of The Mudville Sunday Monitor, which keenly resemble the newspaper engravings of the day. Columns of type (in historically accurate printers' fonts, as an afterword points out) run beneath each illustration to bolster the conceit. Bing also scatters other "scrapbook" items throughout, from game tickets (a bargain at 20 cents) to old-fashioned baseball cards and stereopticon imagesDmany of them carefully keyed to the text. Full-color currency, for instance, accompanies "They thought if only Casey could but get a whack at thatD/ We'd put up even money now with Casey at the bat," while an ad for Brown's Bronchial Troches appears with the couplet "Then from 5,000 throats and more there rose a lusty yell;/ It rumbled through the valley, it rattled in the dell." Endpapers reveal more items to delight baseball fans and history buffs, from Thayer's newspaper obituary to a fake bookplate wreathed with baseball motifs. Though Casey and the Mudville nine strike out in the end, this exceptionally clever picture book is definitely a winner. All ages. (Nov.)
Copyright 2000 Reed Business Information, Inc.
From School Library Journal
Gr 3 Up-Thayer's classic poem of the 19th-century baseball legend has been revived for a new generation in this creatively designed package. From the first look at the cover, produced to resemble a vintage scrapbook, through the interior views of pages from the "Mudville Monitor," Bing has orchestrated every detail to great effect. Each double spread, rendered in ink and brush on scratchboard, is a scene from the poem. The multitude of lines adds energy; the multiple perspectives create interest. Overlaid on this tattered "newsprint" is baseball memorabilia (cards, tickets, medallions, postcards), as well as cleverly fabricated ads or editorials that relate to the moment. The book will be enjoyed by intergenerational partners who can pore over the pages and point things out to one another. It would be a gold mine for teachers seeking inspiration for period projects.-Wendy Lukehart, Dauphin County Library, Harrisburg, PA
Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information, Inc.
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This particular edition and rendition of the poem Casey at the Bat, first published in 1888 by Ernest Lawrence Thayer, has been illustrated by KEN BACHAUS. It is probably one of the finest versions of this poem or ballad in print. Most reading this review are probably quite familiar with the story as told in the poem, so needless to say, it is about as an American of a poem as you can get. It is one of those that have been memorized by school children for several generations now. Movies and cartoons have been made of it and the poem has been published in uncountable anthologies, as well as stands a lone works.
What makes this work so unique is the art work by Ken Bachaus. The artist has captured the mood of the poem perfectly. Facial expressions of players are an absolute delight as is the body language and background settings. Vivid watercolor like paintings fit the words to the text perfectly. Bachaus' use of his brush to show motion is quite unique and perfectly executed. (this technique is actually quite difficult to pull off and the artist has mastered it). Details of uniforms, skin texture, equipment and, well, dirt, is rather amazing.
I cannot think of a better version of this beloved story to read to the young ones. Not only do they get the words of a wonderful, truly American poem, but they are exposed to some wonderful art work at the same time.
If you purchase this work, be sure you check it out closely as there seems to be a terrible mix up here. Note that Publishers Weekly has gotten it wrong (no surprise here), and School Library Journal is even further off. They don't even address the correct artist. And while I am at it; where on earth did they come up with "Aristotelean catharsis" on a review for a book like this? I sat through over a dozen classes in classical literature in college, and for the life of me never made the connection between Aristotle and Casey...Duh on me, I suppose. Anyway, I think it is suppose to be (Thank you for allowing me to rant)
The Baseball Almanac calls the piece "a baseball poem so well-written that it is simply classic poetry." But the poem is not just about baseball; it is part of baseball history. Ernest Thayer initially published the poem anonymously, because he considered it doggerel, a throwaway set of lines. But as time passed and it grew in popularity, more and more people claimed to have written it, and so he "came out" as the author, so to speak. The poem's subtitle, "A Ballad of the Republic Sung in the Year 1888," is rarely included with it, but indicates the mock seriousness of the work. Despite the technological changes of the past 120 years, the Mudville Nine's situation is sweetly familiar. Anyone attending a baseball game in a stadium today could identify with the hyped-up crowd in the poem. And as for gifted but arrogant players? Plenty of those still around.
The text is illustrated by Ken Bachus with sharp attention to the clothing and facial hair typical of the late 1880s. His ink drawings are detailed and accurate, from the players' uniforms and floppy baseball gloves to their drooping moustaches. Bachus indicates Casey's physical superiority in two ways: Casey hefts three bats in the on-deck circle rather than the usual two, and his moustache ends are longer than anyone else's. But he isn't perfect: his ears stick out, and he's beady-eyed.
In a liberal interpretation of the text, the illustrator shows Casey taking the first two pitches while leaning on his bat rather than holding the bat in ready position. This choice underscores Casey's arrogance: it's not just that he didn't swing; he couldn't swing. The last drawing is a treasure. Casey sits alone and bent over on a rough-hewn plank bench, his bat and the elusive ball at his side. His posture says "learned a hard lesson" better than any words could. This Casey will never again lean on his bat and watch a pitch go by.
A perfect read-aloud poem for pre-teens. The last lines should be read with a slow and exaggerated seriousness: "There is no joy in Mudville -- mighty Casey has struck out."
Most recent customer reviews
I read the story to a group of young boys who had never heard it before. They were not expecting the ending the way it was.Read more