I loved the first book in the series Fuzzy Baseball by John Steven Gurney (illustrator of the A to Z Mysteries). And while I liked the second (Ninja Baseball Blast) as well, it was more of the same (the local baseball team plays baseball and learns lessons in sportsmanship, being good people and the game). I did not realize there was a third (R.B.I. Robots) out last spring, and I just received an e-book galley of number four, Di-No Hitter (due in mid-June 2021).
This time the Fuzzies (the local baseball team made up of fuzzy creatures and one snake) are playing an old-timer’s baseball team made up of all types of dinosaurs and not-dinosaurs (but this is not a non-fiction book, so that mix up of time periods is fine). There is humor, breaking of the fourth wall (somewhat) and a cool ending. Not only do we find out who is the better team (the young vs. the old timers) but a few new tricks from some old dogs. Um…dinosaurs.
The baseball announcer (I heard Bob Uecker with a hint of Howard Cosell) is telling the story while you watch the two teams go neck-to-neck (and some have REALLY long necks) until the bottom of the ninth. You also see the author (presented in animal form) being interviewed by another animal who is having trouble distinguishing reality and fiction (and will point that out). This is a little annoying at times, as it slows down the story a tad, but adds some meat to the skeleton of the story as it is minimal on the action. This helps give it some context as otherwise it is a literal play by play of who got hits, balls and strikes. Along with one pig with an interesting idea of the history of the game.
The only real complaint I really have (though it is probably a bit too realistic) is the umpire (an ostrich) and one of the female dinosaur players having a bit of a, shall we say, flirtatious adult interaction. The afterwards does give you some information about the players of the dinosaur team and the where the author took poetic license.
Overall, reluctant readers and readers alike can enjoy this “picture book-somewhat easy reader-graphic novel” combination. Ages 5 to 8 is most likely the best audience, but it can be read aloud to most ages. It does help if you like baseball and/or sports books, but not needed.