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Review of On the Ball

pinkney_on the ballOn the Ball
by Brian Pinkney; illus. by the author
Preschool, Primary   Disney-Hyperion   32 pp.
9/15   978-1-4847-2329-6   $17.99

Pinkney’s latest picture-book offering begins on a soccer field, then takes flight as a young boy’s imagination soars. The opening text reads, “Owen loved playing ball,” and the accompanying illustrations show a boy first dribbling and then tripping over a soccer ball, because “playing ball…didn’t always love Owen.” Pinkney employs loose black ink brushstrokes accented with swabs of color that recall the style of his contemporary Chris Raschka to visually convey movement. This sense of motion is crucial to the success of the story, which has the intrepid Owen “chase down” the ball when it gets away from him. Fantastical scenarios show the ball floating away through the water, as Owen transforms into a merman; next rolling into “tangled bushes” with a now tiger-shaped Owen pursuing it. When the ball bounces off a cliff, Owen sprouts wings and flies after it, then finally brings it (and himself) back down to earth on the soccer field. Triumphant, a “fierce” and loose Owen now floats and flies through the game, having learned a lesson about focus and determination through a story that also offers an artful, subtle message about the importance of perseverance in life.

From the November/December 2015 issue of The Horn Book Magazine.

Megan Dowd Lambert About Megan Dowd Lambert

Megan Dowd Lambert is an instructor at Simmons College’s Center for the Study of Children’s Literature. For nearly ten years she also worked in the education department of the Eric Carle Museum of Picture Book Art.

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