Purpose of this Blog...

You may have noticed that not all books are equal in capturing children's imaginations and in cultivating those innocent, tender souls. My goal is to help you find the ones that do!
(Painting by Mary Cassatt: "Mrs Cassatt Reading to her Grandchildren" -1888)

Monday, June 6, 2011


Click HERE to read a quick history of this 1908 classic song.
READ ALOUD GRANDPAS AND DADS: Father's Day is this month, and I couldn't pass up the opportunity to share some exceptional (and nostalgic) baseball stories with you. And you Moms/Grandmas out there who don't quite get the obsession with our National Pastime - maybe you'll understand it a little better after reading these enlightening books...

The original lyrics of TAKE ME OUT TO THE BALLGAME, written by Jack Norworth, begin with a little known verse:
"Katie Casey was baseball mad.  Had the fever and had it bad..."
This fictional female character inspired the fun historical picture book Players in Pigtails, when its author, Shana Corey, was doing research on female baseball players after seeing the movie, A LEAGUE OF THEIR OWN.  In the book, no team will let Katie play.  It's WWII, and the men have all gone off to war, so the coaches decide to start a women's baseball league.  Illustrator Rebecca Gibbon did a great job bringing the style of the 1940's to the page! (grades K-3)

3 Great Baseball Books written and illustrated by Matt Tavares... these make perfect read alouds for dads/grandpas who want to share their love of baseball with their kids/grandchildren.  I think you'll love Matt's old-fashioned style - you might even blink back a couple of tears...

Zachary's Ball  Zachary goes with his father to his first baseball game - at Fenway Park.  When his dad catches a pop fly ball and hands it to him, Zachary is instantly transported to the mound as a pitcher for Boston!  He strikes a player out and the Red Sox win the game. When the catcher returns the ball, Zachary is suddenly back in his seat. He tells his father that the baseball is magic and his father replies, "They're all magic." After writing his name on the ball, Zachary sleeps with it every night, but eventually the ball disappears.  Years later, as an adult, walking past Fenway, he catches an over-the-wall home run.  He thinks he sees his name on it, but the letters disappear.  He gives it to a girl walking by with her father, telling her that all baseballs are magic.

Oliver's Game  Like Players in Pigtails, this touching book, set in the 1940's, has baseball interconnecting with WWII history.  In his grandfather's memorabilia shop near Wrigley Field, a young boy named Oliver (named after his grandfather) discovers an old Chicago CUBS uniform.  After questioning his grandfather about it, he not only learns that the uniform belongs to his grandfather, but that the elder Oliver gave up a chance to try out for the Cubs' team when he enlisted in the Marines after the bombing of Pearl Harbor.  This touching tribute to baseball has a sweet ending, when it is revealed that the grandfather - who suffered a career-ending injury in the war - found another way to feel part of the game and be close to his team.

Mudball  "A lighthearted picture-book romp based on baseball's shortest home run. In 1903, Andy Oyler hit the only home run of his entire career, but it's the subject of a much-loved baseball legend. Tavares casts his hero as the classic underdog: Oyler's the shortest player in the league, and he's trying to overcome a batting slump and the heckling of fans. As he steps to the plate on a cold, drizzly day, he represents the Minneapolis Millers' last hope. The drizzle becomes a downpour, but the umpire, believing that the batter stands a good chance of making the final out, lets play continue. Oyler somehow connects with the ball, which then gets lost in the wet, muddy infield. Tavares hilariously details the ensuing chaotic play as fielders scramble to find it and the batter makes his way around the bases..." -Library School Journal.

Curious George at the Baseball Game, Margaret & H.A. Rey (4-8)  George is off to watch a game at Mudville Field...you know he'll do more than watch!
The Babe and I  by David A. Adler, illustrated by Terry Widener (K-3)  Babe Ruth makes an appearance in this book about a boy and his family in the Bronx, as they struggle through the Great Depression.
Casey at the Bat: A Ballad of the Republic Sung in the Year 1888, by Ernest L. Thayer, illustrated by C.F. Payne (grades K-4)  The stylish caricatures that accompany this well known ballad are full of personality and charm.

Thank you, Jackie Robinson by Barbara Cohen (ages 9-12)  This compelling novel isn't just about baseball, but about the warm friendship between a 10-year-old Jewish boy named Sam and an older African American man.  This man, Davy, is a cook at Sam's mother's New Jersey inn.  It's 1947, and they both love the Brooklyn Dodgers.  And they both love Jackie Robinson.  Davy is a cook at Sam's mother's inn.  When Davy has a heart attack, Sam musters up his courage and gets past many obstacles to get Jackie Robinson's autograph on a baseball for Davy, somehow convinced that the ball with make him better.

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