Play Ball

Play BallDashiell Brody just moved to a new town, along with her mother and older sister, Arica. With the move comes a new high school — a co-ed one. For Arica, this means lots of cute boys, but for Dashiell, this means a baseball team. Though she excelled on her old school’s softball team, her true love is baseball and she’s determined to get a spot on the boy’s team, whatever it takes. With the help of a sympathetic teacher, Dashiell fights for a spot on the team, much to the chagrin of the coach and some of the players. But will she get a chance to prove herself when everything, including the softball team and her own sister, seems to be against her?

This graphic novel, written by Nunzio Defilippis and Christina Weir and illustrated by Jackie Lewis, is middling at best. While it’s always great to see a story featuring a strong female character — and Dashiell is one, no doubt — this is a plot that feels cliche. There is nothing new or surprising about how the story plays out. Girls who play softball may also feel a bit miffed by how much Dashiell dismisses the sport. In addition to the main storyline, the plot also focuses on the family relationships between Dashiell and her sister, mother, and estranged father. The dynamic between the two sisters seems especially forced and doesn’t feel authentic. The rest of the characters appear to be pulled from a stock of stereotypical background players — the deadbeat dad, the bumbling principal, the crusading female teacher — and do not add any depth to the already shallow plot.

The art does not make up for the story, either. The character proportions are often skewed and awkward-looking and don’t look consistent throughout. Some of the high school characters appear middle-aged at points. Even during action sequences, the pages feel flat and one-dimensional.

While this graphic novel had the potential to be a more interesting story and Dashiell’s spirit and perseverance were almost enough to get it there, it ultimately fell short.

Play Ball
by Nunzio Defilippis and Christina Weir
Art by Jackie Lewis
ISBN: 9781934964798
Oni Press, 2012
Publisher Age Rating: T (13 )