The Walrus and the Baseball Player by Ben Loory and illustrated by Alex Latimer is such a perfect book! Perfectly paced, perfectly mirrored and perfectly kind of weird - in the best way possible that kids are sure to love. At its most basic, The Walrus and the Baseball Player is a story about the responsibilities that come with having a pet. But it's also about discovering what you love, finding a way to make it work and picking up the pieces and going on when it doesn't. And The Walrus and the Baseball Player is about hard work - the hard work of taking care of a pet and taking care of yourself.
The Walrus and the Baseball Player begins, "Once upon a time there was a baseball player. He played in the major leagues, and made lots and lots and lots of money. People came from all around the world to see him play. But the baseball player was unhappy. And no one knew why." A trip to the zoo and some time spent at the walrus enclosure prove to be life changing. That night, as he lay in bed, the baseball player found himself "laughing, remembering the walrus's antics" - the way he lolled, the funny noises he made and the way he bobbed his head as he gobbled down fish. The baseball player decides that he will buy the walrus.
Of course, you can't just go to the zoo and buy a walrus, but the baseball player does his research, builds an amazing enclosure with all the perfect amenities, including a retractable roof in case it gets too hot or too cold and barrels of walrus vitamins. With characteristic deadpan and straightforwardness, Loory writes, "Basically, he showed the zoo people that he meant business." Everything goes swimmingly from then on for the baseball player and the walrus. Until the baseball season starts up again. The baseball player misses the walrus so much that he quits the team and things spiral downward from there. But, the baseball player isn't a quitter. And he finds a way to bring happiness back into his life that is maybe just a tiny bit expected, but also really cool.
Latimer's illustrations are crisp, colorful, filled with detail and just the right amount of cartoonish for this sort of serious, sort of silly story.
More books illustrated by Alex Latimer:
Source: Review Copy