Thursday, November 28, 2013

Getting to First Down: Fall Ball by Peter McCarty

In the fall leaves whirled past the windows of the big yellow bus.

"Football in the park in ten minutes!" Bobby calls.

Promising his mom to be back before dark, Bobby drops off his books at home and dashes back to meet his teammates. Jimmy is snared by his parents to rake leaves, and sadly watches the others gathering for a game as he struggles to corral the swirling leaves into something like a pile.

But getting off a scrimmage isn't that easy. There isn't much in the way of an offensive line, and when Bobby goes back for a pass, his dog Sparky thinks he's the intended receiver. He makes a good catch, but runs a little out of bounds, right into the center of Jimmy's hard-earned leaf pile!

But just as Bobby gets his ball back, he hears an unexpected call for time out!
"Time to come home!" call the parents.

"Already?" says Bobby.

And then, to underline the futility of fall football, it starts to snow.

Game over!

But at least there's a big game on the tube after supper, in Pete McCarty's nostalgic new book, Fall Ball (Henry Holt, 2013). McCarty's stylized little ballplayers, their hair blown straight up in the breeze, amid the whirl and swirl of falling fall foliage and set in the center of heavy creamy pages, gives this story a sturdy, homey feel, right down to the old-fashioned television set decorated with fall pumpkins on top as the kids settle down cozily for a little football after all. A pleasant slice-of-life story as warm as a piece of autumn apple pie, McCarty's story makes the most of autumn ambience. "A likable ode to the perennial pleasures of autumn and friends," says Kirkus Reviews.

McCarty is the author-illustrator of the Caldecott-winning Hondo and Fabian.

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