Joy in Mudville

Robert Raczka (Author) Glin Dibley (Illustrator)


It had been only twenty-four hours since Mighty Casey struck out, plunging fans of the Mudville team into gloom and despair. But a new game day dawned, and Casey once again proved his might with a homer in the eighth. The Mudville nine took a one-run lead, but in the bottom of the ninth, their hurler walked three straight.

Bases loaded and the starting pitcher spent, the Mudville manager was not bullish about his bullpen. With the game on the line, he called for rookie Joy Armstrong to take the mound. Could she bring joy to Mudville again--and prove that a girl can play ball as well as any boy?

-- "Journal"

Product Details

Carolrhoda Books (R)
Publish Date
April 01, 2014
9.4 X 0.4 X 11.1 inches | 0.9 pounds
Library Binding
BISAC Categories:

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About the Author

Bob Raczka and his wife Amy are the co-creators of three masterpieces: Robert, Carl and Emma. They live in Glen Ellyn, Illinois, with their dog Rufus, who is also a piece of work. As a boy, Bob loved to draw--especially dinosaurs, cars, and airplanes. He also enjoyed making paper airplanes and model rockets. He's a lifelong Cubs fan. Thanks to good grades (and some help from his high school art teachers) he went to college at the University of Illinois, where he majored in art. On a whim, Bob took an advertising copywriting class and loved it. When he graduated, he became an advertising writer. But when his first child, Robert, was born, he rediscovered children's books and thought, I want to do this. So Bob began sending out manuscripts and collecting rejection letters. Five years later, he sold his first manuscript, a book about art called No One Saw. Little did he know, it would become the first book in his ongoing series, Bob Raczka's Art Adventures.


"The Mudville Nine are looking for redemption after Mighty Casey's disheartening strikeout the day before. It arrives in the form of a relief pitcher who, as Raczka puts it, also happens to be 'a she.' Her first name, Joy, alludes to the beloved baseball poem's last line, and her last name, Armstrong, proves an accurate description of her pitching skills, which also showcase her talents for football, tennis, and basketball. Raczka's versifying lacks the mock-heroic cheekiness and confident lilt of Thayer's original (reprinted at the end); the clunky rhymes ('confidence' with 'cleared the fence') and obviously messaging ('She'd show them soon enough that girls/ excel in many sports') are the poetic equivalents of bunts. But Dibley is a visual power hitter. His settings conjure up a beautiful day on a dusty, small-town field, while his characters' broad, red noses (an artistic signature) and imperturbable miens feel right on the mark." --Publishers Weekly


"Sports fans of both genders will like the story of Joy Armstrong who takes the pitcher's mound when the team is very close to losing the game. This story begins the day after the Mighty Casey has struck out. When the Mudville starting pitcher tires in the ninth inning with two outs and the bases loaded, the team's manager calls on rookie Joy to finish out the game. The illustrations that accompany this story in rhyme add detail; the players appear to be in motion. The book includes the original 'Casey at the Bat' by Ernest Lawrence Thayer. The end papers are filled with pennants of various baseball teams. As a read-aloud, sports fans and story lovers will enjoy learning how Mudville wins the game." --Library Media Connection


"We all know how 'Casey at the Bat' ended: there was 'no joy in Mudville.' Raczka picks up the story here, with 'Joy' referring to an actual person: lanky relief pitcher Joy Armstrong. One game after the mighty Casey struck out, the fortunes of the team rest upon the shoulders of young Joy. Not only does she save the day for her team, she does so unconventionally, pitching balls in ways more akin to the signature moves of other sports: hiking it, serving it, lobbing it, and so on. The point--that she is an all-around athlete--is stretched a bit far, but this does make for a good addition to the slim number of picture books about girls who excel at sports. Dibley's illustrations feature lumpy-faced characters with similar laconic expressions, but readers will pick up on the way the umpire's clothes change with Joy's choice of plays. For collections that can always use another good-natured sports book." --Booklist Online


"Will there ever be joy in Mudville now that mighty Casey has struck out? It is the day after that awful game, and now there is a chance for redemption.
But it's not really about Casey. He actually redeems himself when he hits a home run that puts the team ahead, but the Mudville pitcher falters by walking three straight batters in the ninth inning with two out. They don't need Casey right now; they need a solid relief pitcher. In comes Joy, a female rookie pitcher whom the crowd greets with mistrust, boos and catcalls. Her technique is extremely unusual. She variously emulates a football snap to the quarterback, a tennis serve and a basketball dribble and jump shot. Finally, Joy kicks a bunt back to home plate for the out to save the game. And the crowd goes wild. Raczka's sequel echoes Ernest Lawrence Thayer's original, which appears in full following the victory. Although many of his lines are choppy, and unfortunately, the rhymes are too often tortured, the repartee between the whining batter and the umpire is delightful, as is Joy's highly imaginative, definitely rule-breaking pitching style. In Dibly's bright illustrations, the umpire steals some of the spotlight, as his attire and mannerisms match Joy's other-sport pitches, and all the characters' expressions and actions are perfectly suited to this very odd game.
The old ball game is still great fun.
" --Kirkus Reviews


"The day after Mighty Casey's infamous strikeout, the Mudville Nine has fallen to second place and in the late innings of the game struggles to hold onto its lead. Rookie Joy Armstrong is brought in to save the game as the startled fans boo. Lanky, pink bubble-blowing Joy is unfazed by the fans' reaction: 'She'd show them soon enough that girls/excel in many sports.' Joy faces Jackson, a lumbering giant, and surprises him with a football snap thrown between her legs and a high tennis lob. With Jackson behind in the count, Joy's last pitch is a basketball jump shot that the batter bunts, but she uses her soccer skills to make the play at the plate. Sometimes the rhymes sound forced and awkward, but the appealing broad humor wins out. Cartoon illustrations complement and add to the silly goings-on. For example, the umpire's attire changes to a football referee, a tennis line judge, and as he calls the runner out at home, he's wearing soccer shorts and waving a red card. There's a not-so-subtle message here, but it's delivered with pitch-perfect tone. This playful retelling wins a place for itself alongside the many iterations of Casey's tale." --School Library Journal