Fuzzy Baseball

illus. by John Steven Gurney. 56p. Papercutz. May 2016. pap. $9.99. ISBN 9781629914770.
Gr 1–3—Gurney, a lifelong baseball enthusiast and the author and illustrator of the storytime favorite Dinosaur Train, serves up his first graphic novel. The Fernwood Valley Fuzzies are taking on their rivals, the Rocky Ridge Red Claws, in this action-packed tale that delivers all the play-by-play of a live game in a classic underdog story. The Fernwood Valley Fuzzies' biggest fan, Blossom Honey Possum, is new to the team this season, and her fresh eyes and keen insight help the Fuzzies develop a strategy for winning the game. The characterization and format are very well done. Early on, the author offers readers clues about whom to root for and who the "bad guys" are on the Red Claws team, and uses the graphic format to help kids better understand baseball. Panels illustrate where players are as they steal bases and the action speeds up. The overall effect is a very clear picture of the game; kids will enjoy the rising action and cheer the underdogs to victory without getting lost in any complicated details.
VERDICT For larger collections in need of a title that will appeal to sports and nonsports fans alike.

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