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****Casey at the Bat

A Ballad of the Republic Sung in the Year 1888

by Ernest L. Thayer

illustrated by C. F. Payne

Reviewed June 17, 2003.
Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers, 2003.  32 pages.
Available at Sembach Library (J 811.52 THA).

Several months ago, a new picture book of Casey at the Bat came out.  It’s unfortunate for that illustrator that this one followed it so closely, because this new version illustrated by C. F. Payne blows all others out of the water.

Of course it’s a classic poem.  I simply had to take it home and force my son to listen while I read it out loud.  The phrases roll off of your tongue and ring in your brain long afterward.

These illustrations are perfect!  C. F. Payne took for his subject a rural baseball game of approximately 1888.  There’s beautiful detail in his paintings, with wonderful emotion in the spectators’ faces.   When Casey comes to bat, the lusty yell of the crowd “rumbled through the valley” and “rattled in the dell,” and we see a farmer and his son listening to the sound of the stadium from their hilltop farm.  There’s another wonderful picture when “the air is shattered by the force of Casey’s blow.”

This book is magnificent!  Look for it in the poetry section.

Copyright © 2005 Sondra Eklund.  All rights reserved.

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