Reviews for Fall Ball

Booklist Reviews 2013 November #2
McCarty celebrates the fall season in this picture-book ode to falling leaves, warm sweaters, and football. A slew of egg-shaped kids of varying ethnicities are traveling home from school on the bus, happy because "they have waited all day for their chance to play." Once the seven boys and two girls get off at the same stop, it's time for football in the park. Sparky the Hondo-esque dog joins in the fun, capturing the ball in his mouth and running through a pile of freshly raked leaves. When it's time to go home, there's yummy pie on the table, warm blankets on the couch, and, yes, football on TV. (Snowflakes gently falling outside make a picture-perfect backdrop.) This story, while slight, is fall coziness personified. McCarty's pen, ink, and watercolor illustrations are full of familiar McCarty details, like the tiny bunny pictured on the side of the school bus and framed pictures of chickens--and kids will have fun spotting them. An old-timey-feeling picture book, this is high on nostalgia, both for football and a simpler way of life. Copyright 2013 Booklist Reviews.

Horn Book Guide Reviews 2014 Spring
Bobby and friends gather for a game of after-school football--all except Jimmy, who wants to rake "all these leaves." When dog Sparky intercepts a pass, the leaves, kids, and dog all end up in a glorious pileup. For such a boisterous sport, this game seems remarkably gentle, which might disappoint some. McCarty's softly colored and delicately rendered illustrations convey a quiet autumnal mood.

Kirkus Reviews 2013 October #2
McCarty distills a crisp essence of late fall into a few familiar images: a bouncy ride home on the school bus, an impromptu game of football (the American kind) amid piles of leaves, the first flakes of snow in early dusk and the cozy warmth of the house after play. A slightly diverse group of pink-cheeked and well-scrubbed primary-grade children (two girls and eight boys, including Bobby with his football and Jimmy, whose attempt at creating a tidy pile of leaves is certain to be thwarted) looks sweetly like an array of young hedgehogs. They have spiky hair and round bodies and are so kinetic that they seem to move in a tumble above the ground. Textured lines and muted colors in the children's clothes and the flying leaves combine with the substantial creamy paper to make each lighthearted spread sweetly inviting, so tactile and alive that one can almost imagine the smell of autumn leaves in the air. The spare text, perfectly pitched for a preschool audience, offers just enough to support the illustrations and for pre-readers to revisit and retell the story. Even listeners without Bobby's passion for football will find the afternoon's outdoor recreation appealing, and adult readers may remember the delights of independent, child-organized group play. A likable ode to the perennial pleasures of autumn and friends. (Picture book. 2-5) Copyright Kirkus 2013 Kirkus/BPI Communications.All rights reserved.

Publishers Weekly Reviews 2013 July #4

Autumn beckons in this nostalgic ode to football season, which features an after-school scrimmage among nine grade-school children. In all, seven boys and two girls bounce home on their school bus, disembarking in a safe, tree-lined neighborhood. "Football in the park in ten minutes!" Bobby tells his friends, before calling to his mother, "I'll be back when it's dark!" Except for Jimmy, who dutifully rakes leaves, the children initiate a game that is disrupted by Sparky, a mischievous golden retriever resembling Hondo, of McCarty's Hondo and Fabian. McCarty insiders will notice many such cozy details from past books, from chicken- and rabbit-themed decorations to fond football references. In his familiar pen-and-ink and watercolors, McCarty pictures squat, doll-faced children bundled in woolly sweaters. These same-age, same-size, moderately diverse kids play outside until snowflakes fall and a blue haze announces twilight. As in Night Driving and Moon Plane, McCarty salutes an idealized middle-class Americana, down to the clunky TV on which a cohesive nuclear family watches an evening football game. Grandparents will be charmed--actual children, perhaps less so. Ages 4-8. Agent: Gotham Group. (Sept.)

[Page ]. Copyright 2013 PWxyz LLC

School Library Journal Reviews 2013 November

K-Gr 1--McCarty's expert pen-and-ink and watercolor style lends a crispness so powerful that readers of this ode to fall may find themselves reaching for a warm blanket and a cup of cocoa after the very first leaf-filled spread. A large yellow school bus bounces along an old bumpy road, carrying children eagerly anticipating a chance to play outside. Bobby organizes a gang of neighborhood kids for a game of football, but Jimmy dutifully, if unrealistically, chooses to keep raking leaves-a chore complicated by a feisty dog. When Sparky intercepts a pass and carries it straight through Jimmy's carefully raked pile, they all end up covered in crunchy leaves. The illustrations turn dusky-hued and moms start calling out names, bidding children home as snowflakes start falling. At first they protest, but "back in the house, there are good things to eat. There are cozy pajamas and warm blankets." And, the final spread shows a family of three wedged onto a couch together, more football to watch. While the story lacks McCarty's usual emotional nuance, readers will certainly identify with the reluctance to come inside and the joys of warm indoor family time. Families and educators will welcome this addition to the compendium of fall stories.--Jenna Boles, Greene County Public Library, Beavercreek, OH

[Page 82]. (c) Copyright 2013. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.