Casey at the Bat
by Thayer Ernest L.
Illustrated by Joe Morse
Published by KCP Poetry / Kids Can Press, 2006
A newly illustrated of Ernest Thayer’s much-loved Casey at the Bat turns the time-honored sports classic into a relevant, resonant story for today. The unfolding baseball drama plays out on a diamond that is squeezed between high rises and busy urban streets, in the midst of asphalt and concrete. Casey and the rest of the Mudville nine are a mixed-race group of inner city teens. They are also the underdogs everyone is rooting for as they take on a uniformed, semi-professional team that was passing through the neighborhood and proposed a challenge. The teen players, in their baggy jeans and t-shirts, are identified by name in graffiti-like script that is reminiscent of taggers and reflects the real graffiti on some of the buildings and walls around the field. They are cheered on by enthusiastic fans watching from the small balconies of the nearby buildings, as well as by hip, tattooed observers on the sidelines. Morse's style is immediate and dynamic, with thick black lines and juxtaposed angles and curves conveying intense energy and emotion. Despite the artist's muted palette, the images are incredibly active and vibrant as they offer new dimensions of story and transform Thayer's 19th century verse into a fresh contemporay tale. (MS) ©2006 Cooperative Children’s Book Center