When I noticed that my eight-year-old son had barely moved an inch from his position in front of a telecast of a cricket test match last summer, I concluded that his deep interest must be ‘nature’, not ‘nurture’. He was glued to it – remarking to anyone who’d listen about fielding decisions, bowling styles and batting order. The appeal of cricket isn’t always obvious – it’s not necessarily ‘action-packed’ and it requires patience and careful observation to pick up the nuances of the game. But of course, our love affair with cricket usually begins in the backyard.
Howzat!, by Mike Lefroy and illustrated by Liz Anelli, follows kids all over the world as they play a game of cricket. Starting with a bouncing ball in England, to Antigua, New Zealand, Australia and South Africa, and finishing with Sri Lanka and India, we see cricket on the street, in the yard and at the beach in twelve countries. Regardless of the location, the children playing are united by their desire to take a classic catch, deliver a fast ball and whack it for a six.
Lefroy’s rhyming text uses an appropriate amount of cricket terminology (it’s no mean feat to incorporate ‘silly-mid-on’ and ‘googly’ into a rhyming story!) and Anelli’s brilliant illustrations – a mix of pencil, gouache and collage – set the scene in each country, with culture-specific details in each. Kids will automatically search for the country’s flag on each page – some are obvious and some are hidden within the illustration and that’s just one thing to compare between countries – the more you look, the more find. The world map used as the endpapers shows all the countries that cricket is played in and the journey of the bouncing cricket ball in the story.
Howzat! is suitable for children aged four years and over. Find it in all good book stores or online at Fishpond.