Wednesday, April 04, 2018

Go For It! I Got It! by David Wiesner

Wish. Hope. Aspiration.

All that and more are in the opening pages of David Wiesner's newest, almost wordless, book, I Got It! (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2018). The frontispiece shows a boy in orange sneakers and baseball cap, with his fielder's glove on his left hand, wistfully watching from behind a chain-link fence as a group of guys and one girl gather to get up a game of baseball. The title page shows the boy inside the fence, hesitantly standing a few feet away from the others, socking one hand hopefully into the pocket of his glove.

It's the usual motley assortment for a sandlot game--a girl in a pink cap, a couple of blond kids who could be big and little brothers, a biracial kid and an Asian girl, a couple of bespectacled brothers who've brought the bats, and the tall kid who seems to be in charge, the requisite baseball in his hand.

The tall kid gives the kid with the glove the nod and points him toward the far outfield, where he waits for his chance to show what he can do. The bigger kid with glasses socks the first pitch. It's a fly ball rising high over the infield. The kid with the glove goes deep and calls it.


It's a gutsy call and the kid goes for it, flat out.

And he falls flat, tripping on a root, as the ball comes down, just a couple of feet from his outstretched glove.

The other kids cover their eyes. SHEESH!

But the boy calls the next pop fly and again reaches for it, tripping on a root and slamming into a tree. He's not hurt, but his confidence is a bit shaken. The next ball hit high seems huge, filling the sky, and the other fielders go for it, all reaching for the ball; it seems like the whole team has called that ball. Has the kid got what it takes to snag it?


"Ah, but man's reach should exceed his grasp!" said poet Robert Browning, and that "go for it" feeling fills Wiesner's inspired picture book about making the big catch and making new friends.

The multiple Caldecott-winning David Weisner juggles both realism, in his real-kid illustrations of this pick-up team, and fantasy, as he imagines seems to flash through the space above as he goes for the ball. It's a little life lesson, as Wiesner's final illustration shows the boy's team, now waiting by the fence for their turn at bat, the new kid now sitting right in the middle of his teammates, ready to root for his side. Wiesner's exceptional illustrations, done with much detail, are still ambiguous enough to lend themselves to more than one understanding by the reader. And what's with that flock of birds that fill in most of the pages and who seem to be the boy's biggest fans? Wiesner always leaves the reader waiting for some ball or other to drop.

David Wiesner's Caldecott Award and Honor Medal books are Tuesday, Flotsam, The Three Pigs, Free Fall, Sector 7 (Caldecott Honor Book), and Mr. Wuffles! (Caldecott Medal - Honors Winning Title(s))

Labels: ,


Post a Comment

<< Home