Hoggy at Bat

Holiday House. Nov. 2023. 40p. Tr $14.99. ISBN 9780823451494.
PreS-Gr 1–A pig steps up to the plate in a friendly game of baseball. He feels confident, perhaps overly so, but finds himself unable to hit the ball, making two strikes and a series of fouls. In an unorthodox stroke of genius, or perhaps a moment of foolish desperation, he turns his bat upside down, swinging at the pitch with the handle end and hitting a home run. This comic for early readers is light on text with mostly expressions of frustrations and intent from Hoggy—“I will get a hit” and “Bring it on!”—with interspersed commentary from fellow players. However, the simple plot relies on a working knowledge of the rules of baseball, specifically how one may continue hitting foul balls indefinitely without striking out. Some readers will need an explanation. At the same time, it’s a classically crafted baseball yarn where the tension of stepping up to bat—being by turns cheered on and discouraged—builds gradually to a familiar yet exuberant finale. Long’s menagerie of animal athletes includes an elephant umpire, a feline catcher, and snakes, turtles, and wolves in the dugout; it’s a cartoonish, expressive cast that provides an easy-to-understand setting in which Hoggy can play his best.
VERDICT A brief, engaging story for young and eager sports fans, eminently effective without trying to do too much.

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