#1200 – The Ball Book by Joshua David Stein & Marcus Oakley


The Ball Book: Footballs, Meatballs, Eyeballs, & More Balls!
Written by Joshua David Stein
Illustrated by Marcus Oakley
Phaidon Press 9/18/2019
48 pages   Ages 3—5


Genre:  Children’s Picture Book, NonFiction
Themes: Sports, Word Play, Humor


Baseballs, eyeballs, beach balls, meatballs,. Pinballs, pool balls, bouncy balls, and snowballs, With his signature whimsy, wit, and wordplay, author Joshua David Stein compares and contrasts different kinds of balls in The Ball Book: Footballs, Meatballs, Eyeballs, and More Balls! A humorous and rather infectious nonfiction picture book and the first on all kinds of balls, it’s perfect for every kid who likes to kick, throw, catch, or giggle. (from publisher)

Opening Lines

Cue ball.
Eight ball.

A pinball’s small and full of metal.
A baseball’s hard and made of leather.

Pool is a game not played in the water,
in which one ball is meant to hit the others.

Why I like this book

The Ball Book includes twenty-three different kinds of balls from those used in sports (football, baseball. softball), to those you eat (matzo ball, meatball, gumball), and those that are “odd-balls” (disco ball, balloons, gerbils). Yes, you read the last group correctly.

The rhyming has a singsong quality to it, making the book easy to read. Some of the rhymes are slanted, but the author gets away with it when read at the slightly faster rate singsong verses ask of readers. Kids, especially those who are sports-inclined, will like The Ball Book. Reluctant readers will like the short sentences (one or two per page), and the simple words. Teachers will get loads of giggles when reading to her/his class; high volume laughs will occur because of the unintended slang.

The Illustrations, (Marcus Oakley’s first children’s book), have a graphic quality to them. Some remind me of wingdings. Kids will love the boxy images and the humor that exists in most spreads. Having reviewed several sports picture and board books, The Ball Book may be the first devoted to balls and objects that roll.

It’s strange to have a ball-devoted book bring up balloons, matzo balls, meat balls, gumballs, eyeballs, and disco balls. And gerbils. When I think of balls, I think of round objects used in games and sports, not food items, body parts, or small animals. Still, author Joshua David Stein makes these items work and readers will wonder, “Why not?” Kids will love the inclusion of these odd balls and they do make one reconsider other objects, as kids most certainly will do.

Kids will enjoy The Ball Book: Footballs, Meatballs, Eyeballs, & More Balls!  Teachers will like the back matter and how kids will be inspired to find other objects that roll. They might then be willing to research the object for interesting facts. Classroom use ranges from pre-school through early elementary. Kids will enjoy reading and hearing The Ball Book for its singsong vibe and humor. Even kids a few years older than the stated age range, will want to read and re-read this factual picture book.

Favorite Line

Gerbils are furballs.
Pitchers throw curveballs.

Back Matter

Each of the twenty-three “balls” has a short paragraph about its origins, uses, or unique and interesting facts. Many of these blurbs compare the ball to food.

Baseballs – are the size of an orange and the weight of a banana.
Eyeballs – are the size of a grape and the weight of a slice of bread.
Footballs – are almond shaped.
Tennis Balls – are the size of an apple.

And then there is the actual food “balls” included: meatballs, matzo balls, and gumballs. This all makes me wonder . . . did the author get hunger pangs while writing The Ball Book, or did he simply write the book too close to or actually in, his kitchen? Whatever the reason, kids will giggle their way through The Ball Book.

The Ball Book: Footballs, Meatballs, Eyeballs, & More Balls! Copyright © 2019 by Joshua David Stein. Illustrations copyright © 2019 by Marcus Oakley. Published by Phaidon Press, New York, NY.

Available at Amazon

Copyright © 2019 by Sue Morris/Kid Lit Reviews. All Rights Reserved


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