Logo Title Quebec Reading Connection

Casey at the Bat

Morse, Joe (Illustrator)
Kids Can Press 2010. 48 pages
First published: 1888
Series: Visions in Poetry
ISBN: 9781554534586 (paperback)
9781553378273 (hardcover)
Original language: English
Dewey: 811
Book type: Picture Book
Book genre: Poetry

Text Elements:

evocative language, language conventions, multimodal, setting

Award

Governor General’s Literary Award – Finalist – 2006

Reading Range

 
Cycle
Elementary
Secondary
 
1
2
3
1
2
ELA
K
1
2
3
4
5
6
1
2
3
4
5
ESL
1
2
3
4
5
6
1
2
3
4
5
ESL Intensive & Enriched
5
6
1
2
3
4
5

Description:

The ‘Mudville 9’ are about to strike out. The only hope they have is to get their star baseball player, Casey, up to the batter’s box. A community’s hope is riding on their local hero. His team holds on by a thread until he miraculously makes it up to bat. But Casey strikes out, crushing the team and its fans.

This classic poem, first published in 1888, is given new life in a contemporary context through extraordinary oil and acrylic graphic illustrations in gritty, urban settings. Tenements, chain link fences and graffiti-covered walls populate the scenes. Portraits of the team and town make the tension almost palpable.

“From the benches, black with people,/There went up a muffled roar,/Like the beating of the storm-waves/On a stern and distant shore;/‘Kill him! Kill the umpire!’/Shouted someone on the stand;/And it’s likely they’d have killed him/Had not Casey raised his hand.” The passion of the diverse crowd fills the page in an intense close-up—eyes wide, mouths open, hands outstretched—we can almost hear the shouting and feel the energy pulsing.

The poem is laid out in speech bubbles that emanate from an unseen narrator, just off the page. The astonishing artwork makes this classic poem about sport, community and team spirit, remarkably relevant.

  •  

    The relationship between words and illustrations may be seen as an interplay between visual and verbal aspects of the text. Frank Serafini identifies three types of interplay to consider: symmetrical, enhancing and contradictory.

  •  How do the illustrations relate to the written text? What do the illustrations add? What do they leave out?
  •  

    Following discussion, select part of the narrative to present a different text type. Using a production process, rewrite the narrative as a wordless book, comic, short story or script.

  •  

    What do you know about baseball? Create a class word web.

  •  

    Listen to the poem recited (without visual support). Do a quickwrite: Where is this baseball park? What might the people look like? What are the feelings evoked by the language? What do you learn about Casey?

  •  

    Read the poem along with the illustrations. The author describes Flynn as a hoodoo and Blake as a cake. Infer the meaning of these words before discussing them and checking your understanding.

  •  This poem is so embedded in American culture that a stamp for Casey was issued as part of a folk heroes collection. Research a Canadian folk hero and write a poem about him or her using the same abcb rhyme scheme as the author.
  • Citizenship and Community Life
  • Visual Arts