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Batter Up Wombat
by Helen Lester
AR Test, Picture Book
4 - 8
It’s a brand new baseball season, and the Champs are ready to go in their spiffy clean uniforms. Never mind that the previous year they finished last in the North American Wildlife League—this season will be different. But when a Wombat wanders onto the field on opening day, the Champs have no idea just how different the game is about to become.
When the Champs play a team of raccoons, they discover how little Wombat knows about baseball. The Champs decide that Wombat needs “a quick course in the sport.” In order to teach Wombat what baseball is, the Champs begin spouting baseball lingo. Readers will laugh at the baseball wordplay. For example, Wombat is told, “you’ll need a bat.” A thought bubble above Wombat’s head shows a bat flying above his head.
Cartoon-like illustrations show different animals including a bird, a frog, a mouse and raccoons. In order to help younger readers understand the wordplay, each time someone explains an aspect of baseball, a thought bubble appears showing the literal meaning of the word. Even though baseball fans will enjoy the wordplay, the story doesn’t flow well and is confusing at times.
When the Champs actually play a game, Wombat continues to be confused. Soon, the team realizes that despite Wombat’s size, he cannot play well. Wombat becomes “frazzled, exhausted, and very sad.” Then, a black cloud appears. When the animals realize a tornado is speeding toward them, they don’t know where to hide. There isn’t a dugout to hide in so Wombat quickly digs a tunnel big enough for both teams. Wombat wasn’t great at baseball, but he still saves the day.
Even though Batter Up Wombat is a picture book, the story is intended to be read aloud to a child, rather than for the child to read it for the first time independently. Each page contains 1-4 sentences. Readers may have difficulty with the compound sentences. Batter Up Wombat’s wordplay is similar to the Amelia Bedelia Series. Young baseball fans will enjoy the wordplay and Wombat’s literal interpretation of the game.
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