A number of years ago, I went to visit my grandfather in the hospital after he had undergone surgery. I remember being very worried about him. He looked so small in the hospital gown and bed, and I wasn't sure how aware he was of what was going on or if he even knew I was there. He was such a sharp and proud person, he would not have wanted to appear confused or helpless. So I just sat there quietly in the room with him. There was all the usual daytime noise of a busy hospital going on in the hallway. In particular, the nurses all seemed to need someone by the name of Joy. Who knew if she was a candy striper, maintenance worker, therapist, or doctor? All I know is I kept hearing people loudly ask, "Has anyone seen Joy?" and "Where's Joy?" A nurse came in to fiddle with my grandpa's tubes. Another nurse ducked her head in the room and inquired of her, "Where should I look for Joy?" From his bed and without opening his eyes, my grandpop said, "Not in Mudville." My worrying ended and my love of the greatest sports poem ever, "Casey at the Bat," increased tenfold.
Marty Sederman has written a fast paced rhyming picture book about a pee wee ice hockey game inspired by the style of "Casey at the Bat." If for no other reason, I like Casey and Derek on the Ice because it gave me a chance to tell that story. It does also have some other strengths to recommend. It has lots of action and an underdog story, as well as exciting, spot on illustrations. Illustrator Zachary Pullen has definitely put in some hours at ice hockey rinks. His details are realistic from the black puck marks on the boards to the kids' names written on masking tape affixed to their helmets. Young hockey players will recognize and appreciate the attention to detail. It won't disappoint those who like a happy ending for the underdog.