Randy Riley's Really Big Hit, written and illustrated by Chris Van Dusen
Let me begin with the one and only sports metaphor I will use in this review... With Randy Riley's Really Big Hit, Chris Van Dusen has another home run. As he proved with his masterpiece, Circus Ship, Van Dusen can tell a story - a complex story - in rhyme better than anyone else writing today. Add to that his superlative skill as an illustrator, from his use of color to his eye for detail, and you have an picture book worth buying in multiples, since you'll want one for yourself and you'll want to give them away. For a look at the breadth of Van Dusen's work, check out my review of his last picture book, King Hugo's Huge Ego.
While baseball isn't exactly my game, and it doesn't seem to be Randy's either, I do love robots and am happy to see them in any story! Besides trying to figure out an equation that can help him not to strike out in the big game, Randy scans the skies with his Space Boy Telescope every night and, much to his alarm, one night he notices a massive fireball heading towards his home town. Randy runs to tell his parents (who are relaxing in their ultra-modern living room, circa 1956) but they don't take him seriously. Randy spends the next eighteen days working on a plan to save the town and possible even his baseball career, a plan I don't want to give away (too much of) here...
As always, Van Dusen's illustrations are a joy to behold and the retro setting of this story makes it even more fun. While everyone and anyone is sure to be entranced by this story, I think that boys especially will connect with Randy Riley's Really Big Hit.