|Image from OpenLibrary.org|
Sam, the horse, and Jackson, the cat, are best friends. They love baseball and their favorite thing to do is to watch a game at Grant’s Field. This year the friends are finally old enough to try out for the local team, the Grazers. Sam is a stellar athlete, clearly the best on the field. But, although he can throw a ball well, Jackson can’t run very fast or hit very accurately. Sam is happy to make the team, but it isn’t the same without Jackson. What will happen when Jackson gets a job as a peanut vendor and becomes famous for throwing peanuts to customers over 60 rows away? Will Sam strike out during the big game against the Barkers? How will the two friends team up to save the day and the game?
This slightly off-beat story of friendship, baseball, and throwing peanuts, is finely crafted by Egan. The friendship between these two unique characters is the heart of the story and it’s wonderful to see how much Sam and Jackson will do for one another. The text is limited to a few sentences per page; however there are some great vocabulary words, such as “defeated,” “legend,” and “disgrace.” The illustrations are done in Egan’s signature style, with ink and watercolor. The characters, all types of animals dressed in human clothes, are quirky and the settings are specific and detailed.
Use this book for a baseball or sports themed storytime and follow up by singing, Take Me Out to the Ball Game. After you read the story, ask the kids why they thought Jackson and Sam were such great friends. How did they show their friendship in the story?
Read this book with your child if they’re trying out for a team and there’s not enough room for everyone to get a spot. Talk about how sad Jackson felt when he didn’t make the team. Ask the kids if they think Jackson is happy at the end of the story, even though he never got to play on the team. Why do you think he was happy? Discuss the idea that some friends may or may not make the team, but that a good friend is a good friend no matter what.