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  • 2005 Comstock Read Aloud Honor Books

    Mighty Jackie: The Strike-Out Queen written by Marissa Moss, illustrated by C.F. Payne, and published by Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers as a Paula Wiseman Book imprint.

    Mighty JackieApril 2, 1931 was an important day in baseball history. On this day the Chattanooga Lookouts played the New York Yankees in an exhibition game. Thousands packed the stadium to see Lookouts’ pitcher, seventeen-year-old Jackie Mitchell, pitch against the Yankees. Jackie made baseball history because she was the first professional female pitcher. Not only did she pitch against the Yankees, but with her “lefty pitch with a low dip” she also struck out Babe Ruth and Lou Gehrig! This slice-of-life biography explains how Jackie grew up playing ball with her father and how at age eight she learned to pitch from Dazzy Vance, a star pitcher for the Brooklyn Dodgers.

    The mixed media colored illustrations show movement and emotion. The full-page close-ups of Babe Ruth capture the intensity in his eyes and the total shock and disgust when the umpire yells “strike three.” Jackie, surrounded by male players, looks undaunted and determined.

    Just the cover of the book alone excited eight to twelve year olds. Children listened intently to the story and talked about the book with excitement. They thought it was great to have a female pitcher and yelled “strike three” when Jackie struck out Babe Ruth.

    Author Marissa Moss is from Berkeley, CA and illustrator C.F. Payne lives in Cincinnati, OH.

    Mr. Maxwell's Mouse written by Frank Asch, illustrated by Devin Asch, and published by Kids Can Press.

    Mr. Maxwell's MouseMr. Maxwell is a sophisticated, debonair Edwardian businesscat, who goes to his favorite restaurant the Paw and Claw to celebrate his promotion to Vice Manager of Efficiency Control. Instead of ordering his usual baked mouse, he orders raw mouse for his entrèe. The Paw and Claw prides itself on polite and plump mice, but the one served to Mr. Maxwell just can’t keep quiet. Would Mr. Maxwell like to add a little salt? Would he like to say a prayer before eating? Would he like a fine glass of wine? The mouse, of course, is a smart little trickster who carefully plans a way to escape his fate.

    Devin Asch, son of the author, illustrates this macabre, dark comedy with artwork created in Adobe Photoshop and Corel Painter. The glossy illustrations alternate between detailed scenes of the restaurant and close-ups of Mr. Maxwell and the mouse. The facial expressions and body language add to the tongue-and-cheek quality of the text. White text against black panels fit the sophisticated tone of the story.

    Children found the illustrations to be “elegant” and “distinguished” and appreciated the details, such as the cats’ clothing. While sixth graders said that the story might be scary for young children, they found it to be entertaining and funny. A ten-year-old girl laughed at the idea of an animal talking to its food and “beamed from ear to ear” as the book was read. A nine-year-old burst boy out laughing when the mouse maneuvered Mr. Maxwell’s tail on to his plate. He also compared the story to “Tom and Jerry” cartoons.

    Frank and Devin Asch are a father-son team. Frank Asch lives in Middletown Spring, VT and his son Devin is from Los Angeles.