It may have come completely out of left field that I put Pecorino Plays Ball, by Alan Madison, on my Top Picks of 2006 (So Far) list, given that I have never mentioned it on my blog. It will further surprise you when you learn that it earns a spot as a Weird-Ass Picture Book based on one aspect of the book. But it is one aspect of the book that is very weird, and yet reviewers don’t seem to have noted it in this or in the first book, Pecorino’s First Concert. Like episodes of Jeopardy, I will note this oddity in the form of a question.
What is the deal with the pointy breasts?
I’m fine with the strange style used throughout this book, whereby the characters have round googly eyes and very large noses. Okay, as an artistic choice. I think the filled-in pencil drawing style is pretty cool, and I’m totally on board with the occasional mixed-media additions of cotton ball clouds and yarn pieces in the grass. Keeps it interesting. But the cone-shaped breasts à la Madonna’s Blonde Ambition tour? Whew. Weird-Ass to the max, man.
But in spite of or maybe even because of these strange illustrations, this book makes my top list. The illustrations are funky and very cool. They complement and convey the humor of the text throughout. My favorite picture is when Pecorino tucks in his too-big T-shirt of “MALONE’S: We Sell Boxes,” and he is left with a T-shirt that says “ALONE” (his arms cover the “M” and the “S”). The idea is funny and the picture is even funnier.
Back to the story. Pecorino’s mom signs him up for Little League, even though Pecorino doesn’t seem to know what it is. He is so out of his element he can’t catch a baseball or hit a baseball but in the end it all works out for him. This is one of the few picture books that could be read to a class up to fifth grade, and it would still work. It’s a funny, clever book that will win over a wide range of kids. It’s also that rare “boy” book that has a cross-over appeal. All this allows me to forgive the pointy breasts, even if I can’t understand them.