Reviews for Randy Riley's Really Big Hit

Booklist Reviews 2012 February #1
A baseball-loving science nerd finds a way to combine his favorite endeavors when a fireball from space threatens his hometown. Spotting the approaching meteoroid through his "Space Boy telescope," Randy sets to work, calmly constructing a giant robotic slugger who steps up to the plate just in time and belts a dinger. "How predictable--a fastball, low and in," the young inventor notes. Van Dusen does this fine premise justice, pairing reasonably regular lines of rhyme faintly reminiscent of "Casey at the Bat" to spacious, retro scenes of a tidy late 1950s hamlet, and outfitting his diminutive hero with both the requisite heavy glasses and a world-class collection of vintage toy robots. Randy may be an easy out with a bat, but his heroism merits a spot at the heart of any budding geek's lineup. Copyright 2012 Booklist Reviews.

Horn Book Guide Reviews 2012 Fall
Randy Riley, boy genius, is much better at math than baseball. When he discovers a giant fireball heading toward his town, he prepares for his biggest at-bat yet. Through meticulous calculations, Randy builds a mammoth robot to hit his first home run and save the day. The rhyme is spot-on, while the rich gouache illustrations reflect the story's inventiveness.

Kirkus Reviews 2012 February #1
Randy's first and only home run saves his town from disaster. Thinking about gravity and probability generally prevents Randy from hitting the ball. He likes baseball, but his real love is science. He researches information about planets, calculates light years, studies the night sky and has a collection of robots. One night he sees the glimmer of a huge fireball headed straight for Earth. He plots its trajectory and realizes that it will hit his own town in 19 days. No one believes his warnings, so he contrives a plan that utilizes all his scientific and mathematical skills. He constructs a giant robot, precisely times the entry of fireball and, whoosh, the robot swings his smokestack bat and hits the fireball back into space. Told briskly in the rhyme scheme and cadence of "Casey at the Bat," Van Dusen's tale is inventive and humorous. Randy is a lovably nerdy genius who is admired for his brains and is part of a team that doesn't seem to mind his poor batting average. Gouache paintings use clean crisp lines and sharp, bright colors in a variety of perspectives. Everything from the cars in the driveways to the living-room décor places the events in pre-computer, mid-20th-century America. A cunning twist on the heroic home run that wins the game. (Picture book. 5-9) Copyright Kirkus 2012 Kirkus/BPI Communications.All rights reserved.

Publishers Weekly Reviews 2011 November #3

In this retro rhyming tribute to mind over batter, Van Dusen (King Hugo's Huge Ego) casts a wide net: anyone who's a fan of nerds, "Casey at the Bat," classic science fiction, or mid-century design should find something to like in these eye-popping pages. The bespectacled hero is a kid who adores baseball but can't hit the side of a barn; his real talent lies in astronomy and astrophysics ("He studied all the planets./ He memorized their tilt./ He researched how the thrusters/ on the rocket ships were built"). When Randy spots a "massive fireball" hurtling toward Earth, a geek's gotta do what... well, you know: he invents a giant robot that hits a homer that saves the entire world. Van Dusen ramps up the action by having the goofiness unfold in the shiny, candy- colored suburbia of the early 1960s. For young readers, it's an opportunity to encounter a strange civilization where coffee tables are kidney-shaped and mothers wear skirts even when they're not at work; they'll appreciate hitching a ride on Van Dusen's time machine. Ages 4-7. Agent: Writers House. (Feb.)

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School Library Journal Reviews 2012 January

K-Gr 3--Rhythmic, rollicking verse tells the tale of a young science geek, whose hapless efforts on the baseball field cause his teammates to hang their heads. Randy just can't help it. Both on and off the diamond, his thoughts turn more instinctively to planets, scientific equations, and robots: "…something beyond baseball/brought a smile to Randy's face/What Randy Riley really loved/was stuff from outer space!" Spying a giant fireball hurtling toward Earth through his Space Boy telescope one night, the boy frantically warns his parents--only to be sent back to bed. Undeterred, he secretly proceeds to construct a massive, top-secret robot in the backyard shed, which he unveils after the local news finally warns of the fireball's approach. The citizens watch in amazement as Randy guides the gargantuan robot to a deserted old mill, where it cracks off a smokestack and bats the fireball back into space. Randy's engineering talents have clearly saved the day. The crisp cartoon illustrations, rendered in brightly colored gouache, impart a retro small-town world with many expressive and amusing details. Full-bleed spreads delight readers with their varied and exaggerated perspectives, from under the catcher's mitt to bird's-eye views of the town. With all the bases covered--musical text, entertaining artwork, and surefire subject matter--this title bats 1,000 for group or lapsit read-alouds.--Kathleen Finn, St. Francis Xavier School, Winooski, VT

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