Take Me Out To The Ball Game:
New Baseball Books for Kids
In this boy-dominated batch of new baseball books, there are picture books and middle grade novels, action packed stories and baseball history, team spirit and individual courage. So, if your in-house sluggers are baseball crazy, try pitching one of these dozen new books to them. They just might hit a home run.
F is for Fenway: America’s Oldest Major League Ballpark written by Jerry Pallotta, illustrated by John S. Dykes
In celebration of Fenway Park’s 100-year anniversary, this A-Z picture book introduces historic and nostalgic facts about America’s oldest major league ballpark. Readers can learn about the green monster, Peskys Pole, the lone red seat, and the long-standing Yankees rivalry. Red Sox fans will want this one in their collection.
Published by Sleeping Bear Press, Ann Arbor, MI, 2012. ISBN 978-1-58536-788-7
Poem Runs: Baseball Poems and Paintings written and illustrated by Douglas Florian
A collection of poems that takes ball lovers through the game and introduces them to the players on the field. From “Warm Up” to “The Season Is Over,” Florian pitches perfect in his newest book of poetry.
Published by Harcourt Children’s Books, New York, 2012. ISBN 978-0-547-68838-1
Brothers at Bat written by Audrey Vernick, illustrated by Steven Salerno
The amazing true story of the Acerra family, who had sixteen children, twelve of them boys who all played baseball and who made up their very own baseball team. Set in New Jersey, from the 1920s through the 1950s, this picture book follows the brothers from boys playing ball after school to serious players forming their own semi-pro team to soldiers in World War II to their induction in the Baseball Hall of Fame. Their story exemplifies true team spirit.
Published by Clarion Books, New York, 2012. ISBN 978-0-547-38557-0
Lucky Luis written by Gary Soto, illustrated by Rhode Montijo
Luis, a baseball loving and somewhat superstitious rabbit, believes the free food samples he tries at the market gives him good luck in his games. But when the food samples run out, so does his luck on the baseball field. In the bottom of the ninth inning with two outs, Luis is up to bat. Will he let go of his superstitions and remember what his coach taught him before he strikes out?
Published by G.P. Putnam’s Sons, New York, 2012. ISBN 978-0-399-24504-6
Homer written by Diane deGroat, illustrated by Shelley Rotner
In this picture book by local children’s book greats, Diane deGroat and Shelley Rotner, it’s the neighborhood dogs who take to the field. While the humans sleep, the Doggers take on the Hounds for the championship. Can Homer hit it out of the ballpark to lead the Doggers to victory? Short, simple text and photographic images that put an array of canines in uniform will have young sluggers cheering.
Published by Orchard Books, New York, 2012. ISBN 978-0-545-33272-9
Just As Good: How Larry Doby Changed America’s Game written by Chris Crowe, illustrated by Mike Benny
It’s 1948, in Cleveland, Ohio, and Homer and his father are buzzing with excitement. Their team, the Cleveland Indians, has made it to the World Series, and they’re rooting for Larry Doby, the first African-American player in the American League. In this exciting game, Doby not only helps the Indians win their first World Series in 28 years, but breaks the color barrier in baseball and helps lay the foundation for the civil rights movement.
Published by Candlewick Press, Somerville, MA, 2012. ISBN 978-0-7636-5026-1
King of the Mound: My Summer with Satchel Paige written by Wes Tooke
It’s 1935, and 12-year old Nick has just been released from the hospital after a bout with polio. Once the best pitcher in the league, he now wears a brace and will never walk the same again. But meeting Satchel Paige, the best pitcher in the world, who has been locked out of the major leagues because of his skin color, shows Nick he can overcome his obstacles and get back on the mound.
Published by Simon & Schuster Books For Young Readers, New York, 2012. ISBN 978-1-4424-3346-5
Super-Sized Slugger written by Cal Ripken, Jr. with Kevin Cowherd
Being the new kid in Baltimore and a bit “burly” has made life for 13-year old Cody Parker a bit difficult. Throw in the fact that he’s competing for the starting job on the baseball team against a young hoodlum and that a string of mysterious thefts has plagued his middle school, and life gets even more complicated. Can he find his place on the team and get people to see through his size to his talent?
Published by Disney Hyperion, New York, 2012. ISBN 978-1-4231-4001-6
Out in Left Field written by Don Lemna, illustrated by Matt Collins
Set in post-World War II Montana, 11-year old Donald is humiliated when he is knocked out by a pop fly in left field. Not only is most of his town watching, but his team loses the game. As he tries to redeem himself through a series of committed but laughingly, disastrous efforts at becoming a star athlete, he shows just how much heart he has.
Published by Holiday House, New York, 2012. ISBN 978-0-8234-2313-2
Plunked written by Michael Northrop
Sixth grader, Jack Morgan, is at the top of his game. His batting is strong, he has a chance at the starting spot in Little League, and he’s getting up his nerve to talk to his team’s talented shortstop, Katie. But when he’s hit by a stray fastball, his world comes undone. And he must dig deep within himself to overcome his fear and get back in the game.
Published by Scholastic Press, New York, 2012. ISBN 978-0-545-29714-1
A Diamond in the Desert written by Kathryn Fitzmaurice
Written in vignettes, and set in the 1940s, this book tells the story of 12-year old Tetsu Kishi and his family who have been sent to a Japanese internment camp in the middle of the Arizona desert. When someone builds a baseball diamond and recruits a camp team, Tetsu is excited to pull out his glove and get back in the game. But when his sister becomes gravely ill, Tetsu feels responsible and must weigh his love of ball against his love of family.
Published by Viking, New York, 2012. ISBN 978-0-670-01292-3
Fenway Fever written by John H. Ritter
The story takes place in Boston, 2012, the one hundred year anniversary of Fenway Park. 12-year old Alfredo “Stats” Pagano helps his family run a hot dog stand outside the ballpark. But the season is not going well for the Red Sox nor for the Stats’ s family business, and there’s murmur that the Curse of the Bambino has returned. Stats teams up with Red Sox pitcher Billie Orbitt to break the possible curse, and what happens next is magical.
Published by Philomel Books, New York, 2012. ISBN 978-0-399-24665-4
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Cheli has been involved with creative arts and education for most of her life, and has taught many subjects from art and books to yoga and zoology. But she has a special fondness for kid’s books, and has worked in the field for more than 20 years. She is a freelance writer and regular contributor to Valley Kids and teaches a course for adults in “Writing for Children.” She writes from Colrain, where she lives with her musician-husband, three children, and shelves full of kid’s books.