CM . . .
. Volume XIV Number 7 . . . . November 23, 2007
Should Brady Brady decide to become a professional athlete when he grows up, he may have trouble deciding which sport to select. His love of hockey has already been established via numerous books, and he was last seen playing football in Brady Brady and the Cranky Kicker. It’s now spring, and Brady Brady is taking on yet another sport, baseball, as a member of the Mudbugs. While Brady remains the central character in Brady Brady and the Ballpark Bark, the story’s principal problem revolves around Tree who readers might recall as being the “problem” in the hockey themed title, Brady Brady and the Singing Tree. Another recurring character, Brady’s dog Hatrick, provides the book’s solution, something he also did in Brady Brady and the Big Mistake.
When Brady Brady heads off for the Mudbugs’ first practice, he is joined by his ball-totting canine buddy. As dogs are wont to do, an eager Hatrick chases and retrieves every baseball that is thrown or hit at practice. Finally, a frustrated Coach asks Brady take Hatrick home and shut him up in the house. Returning to practice, Brady finds that everyone can hit the baseball but Tree who swings either too early or too late. With the Mudbugs’ first game only a week away, Brady enlists the aid of Tree’s teammates in helping Tree to learn how to hit. Brady sets up a batting practice area in his backyard where his ice rink had once been located. A barking Hatrick wants to join the fun, but Brady won’t let him out as long as they are trying, apparently to absolutely no avail, to get Tree to hit the ball. Brady’s parents, frustrated by a week of Hatrick’s noise, demand that Brady let him out while the boys are still trying to teach Tree to hit.
It takes a few more hits before Brady twigs to the cause and effect relationship between Hatrick’s barking at the right moment to alert Tree to swing the bat and connect with the ball. With his new four-legged batting coach behind the home plate fence on the opening day of the Mudbugs’ season, the lanky Tree hits a home run on his first at bat, and Hatrick is declared to be the team’s mascot.
While Shaw’s plot does stretch credibility more than a bit, young reader/listeners won’t care as I am sure there are likely a lot of young boys and girls who would love to have a Hatrick available to them when the next baseball season begins. Temple’s now trademark cartoon illustrations continue to delight. He did, however, get a bit ahead of the plot in his opening illustration in which Brady Brady is shown wearing his Mudbugs’ uniform. However, Shaw tells her readers on the next page that “Brady was the first to arrive and the first to get his Mudbugs uniform.”
An excellent home and library purchase.
Dave Jenkinson, who lives in Winnipeg, MB, is CM’s editor.
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