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Who's on First?: Books About Baseball to Excite Young Readers (page 2)

— Parents' Choice Foundation
Updated on Jan 8, 2010

Say-Hey and the Babe: Two Mostly True Baseball Stories
Ages: 6 - 10 yrs.
Author: Neil Waldman Illustrator: Neil Waldman
Holiday House, Inc., $16.95 (Hardcover)

Few sports have inspired as much art and literature as baseball, and Neil Waldman's new picture book about “The Great Bambino” adds another tale to a growing mythology. Here, a ball once signed by Babe Ruth and the legendary 1927 New York Yankees takes a stranger-than-fiction journey that happens to converge with another notable ball-one hit by Willie Mays of the 1951 New York Mets. Waldman freely blends fact with legend. The spirits of the eras represented are vividly portrayed, including not only the sights and sounds but the smells and the distinct local dialects. Fascinating sidebars on baseball, immigrant history, New York neighborhoods and other subjects are included.

MudballMudball
Ages: 6 - 10 yrs.
By: Matt Tavares
Candlewick Press, $15.99 (Hardcover)

It's 1903, and the St. Paul Saints are leading the Minneapolis Millers 3-0, when Miller Andy Oyler, the shortest player in the league, steps up to the plate with two outs, bases loaded. As a sudden downpour turns the field into muddy quagmire Oyler, in the midst of a horrendous batting slump, astounds the heckling crowd with "the unmistakable sound of ball against bat. CRACK!" Tavares treats his readers to a comedic showcase of the bumbling Saints as they scramble among the puddles to locate a ball that is ultimately found a few feet from home plate.

Oliver's Game
Ages: 6 - 10 yrs.
By: Matt Tavares
Candlewick Press, $15.99 (Hardcover)

This story is nostalgic on a few different levels; not only does the primary action take place in the World War II-era, but the pencil and watercolor illustrations are rendered in monochromatic shades of gray and sepia. Furthermore, the frame of the tale is set in Hall’s Nostalgia, a baseball memorabilia shop owned by Grandpa Oliver Hall and frequented by the namesake grandson who hears his Chicago Cubs stories. We learn that Grandpa, as a young man, once had a promising career as a Cubs hitter, but the escalation of the war prompts him to make a difficult decision. The shop is modeled after one that Tavares himself grew up around, and his reverence for all things baseball genuinely comes through.

Baseball Saved Us
Ages: 6 - 11 yrs.
Author: Ken Mochizuki Illustrator: Dom Lee
Lee & Low Books, $6.95 (Paperback)

The narrator remembers World War II, when he, a small American boy of Japanese ancestry, was uprooted and "relocated" to a desert camp. As tempers in the claustrophobic camp frayed, the smart parents set up baseball games. And on the diamond the young hero proves himself - there in camp, as well as later in the face of bigotry at home again. The unembellished narrative is powerful; the illustrations, often suffused in a golden haze, indicate times past.

Stories in Music: Casey at the Bat
Ages: 6 & Up
Magic Maestro Music Div. of Simon & Simon, LLC, $16.98 (CD)

Another fine entertaining and educational release in the "Stories in Music" series, created in the tradition of "Peter and the Wolf." With a performance by the London Philharmonic Orchestra, composer-conductor Stephen Simon has given the symphonic, narrative treatment to American poet Ernest Lawrence Thayer's classic poem about a baseball hero's fall from glory. Other tracks include information about the poem, about music composition, listening tips, a play-along track for aspiring violinists and the same music played as a concert band piece and a tango.

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