Review: Joy in Mudville

Joy in Mudville by Bob RaczkaJoy in Mudville

Written by: Bob Raczka

Illustrated by: Glin Dibley

Carolrhoda Books, 2014, Hardcover

Target Audience: Ages 3-8

Genre: Fiction

Theme: Gender, Perseverance, Being Unique

How We Discovered This Book: When my writing partner Joanna was here for a visit, she entered my children in a drawing at our independent bookstore. My daughter Elizabeth won an autographed copy of this book.

Summary:

It begins where the famous poem “Casey at the Bat” ends (it’s in the back for reference if you need to refresh your memory). A girl pitcher is brought in to restore the team’s reputation, and she has some unorthodox methods for saving the day.

What I Liked:

I like this book because a girl is the hero in a traditional boy’s sport. She comes to the rescue, but with her own way of doing things.

What Did My Kids Think?

Both my kids love this book, and it is on frequent rotation for reading before bed. It’s about a girl and baseball, which keeps them both interested.

Resources:

Read “Casey at the Bat” aloud – for the first time, or once again!

Check out the National Baseball Hall of Fame & Museum in Cooperstown. If you’re nearby, plan a visit.

Read the amazing recent story of Mo’Ne Davis, the female Little League pitcher who was the first girl to throw a shut-out game in Little League World Series history. She is also the first Little Leaguer on the cover of Sports Illustrated.

The Senses of Spring

BaseballSpring is a time of reawakening. New animal babies are born and buds pop out on the trees. I found that it is the time for my senses to reawaken, too.

At my son’s first baseball game of the season last night, I was acutely aware of the smell of the freshly cut grass while I watched the boys hold their caps over their hearts for the National Anthem. I could hear the boys laughing from the dugout, and the crack of the wooden bat successfully hitting the ball. My daughter was not watching the game, but was busily digging in the dirt next to the bleachers, bringing me handfuls of craggy, bumpy rocks. And we finished the evening off with a tasty celebratory frozen yogurt.

This inspired my idea for a writer’s exercise, or game to play with your kids (when you can’t possibly play another game of iSpy).

Family Version: At the park, on a car ride, at a sporting event, waiting for the doctor/dentist, taking a nature hike, or anywhere else you might be, challenge your family to describe where they are with all five senses. It may inspire some interesting conversations about WHY the doctor’s waiting room smells like bubble gum.

Writer’s Version: During similar situations as above, or sitting on the porch having a cup of coffee, or people watching at the mall (or wherever else you are), take out your journal and see if you can describe the environment with all five senses. Extra bonus points for the more descriptive and creative you are with your answers. This exercise also works as a “jump starter” for your writing day, or a break exercise when you are stuck while writing. Reflect back on a situation, and see what sensory descriptors you can conjure up. Don’t worry… even if “the smooth stickiness of peanut butter on the roof of my mouth” never makes it into any of your manuscripts, it WILL open your mind to the things that might pass by unnoticed.

Feel free to share your examples and what your senses revealed to you. Happy Spring!