The Baseball Player and the Walrus, by Ben Loory, illustrations by Alex Latimer; Penguin, $16.99, 32 pages, ages 5-8.
We’ve all heard the saying ‘money can’t buy happiness,’ and that phrase certainly rings true in this quirky tale of friendship and happiness. Here, a wildly successful baseball player feels unfulfilled and lonely, until the fateful day he decides to visit the zoo where he meets a belching, fish-eating walrus. Smitten, the baseball player wants to bring the creature home, and builds a state-of-the art walrus enclosure behind his home, where they spend many days playing catch and enjoying each other’s company. Soon, baseball season starts, and while on the road, the athlete discovers that he would rather be with his friend than sitting in faraway hotel rooms. So, he quits. Unfortunately, caring for walruses is expensive, and the bills start adding up. What will the ball player do when his companion is carted away? Debut picture book author Ben Loory explores unending devotion with words that even the youngest readers will understand, while Alex Latimer’s hand-drawn illustrations are spot-on.