A Lot or a Little?
What you will—and won't—find in this book.
Just about everything you need to know about the basics of baseball is here, including types of balls thrown (fastball, curve ball, slider), types of plays (walk, steal, double play, RBI), number of men in the lineup, and much, much more. These are listed as elements, and the book is not intended as a how-to manual, but the book-length list is impressive and comprehensive. Kids learn a bit about a few historically significant players (Jackie Robinson, Roberto Clemente, Babe Ruth) and discover some fun historical facts, including that President William Howard Taft was the first to throw an opening pitch and that President Franklin Delano Roosevelt lit the first night game by sending a signal to the field in Cincinnati through a telegraph wire.
Baseball is a wonderful, multifaceted game with a venerable history that has served to unite a diverse fandom, even and especially in times of war. It's also a game wherein you fail more than you succeed. As Borden writes, "It's hustle / and failure / and trying again."
Positive Role Models
Baseball players are cast in a noble light for trying so hard to succeed. Individual baseball greats are spotlighted not only for breaking records but for breaking barriers and being great humanitarians. Borden points out that Babe Ruth was born poor and was sent to a school for orphans but "grew up to show the world how to hit home runs." He always signed autographs for thousands of young fans "because for the Babe...it was the kids who mattered the most." She calls Jackie Robinson "a great man, / a fine man, / whose courage in baseball / brought equal rights / for those of color." She notes that Roberto Clemente was known for his "dedication to those in need."
Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that Baseball Is... by Louise Borden (America Is...) is a loving look at the sport that covers all the bases -- literally! Her encyclopedic list of all the elements involved in the game and in being a spectator is evocative and poetic, sometimes offering striking contrasts that characterize the sport: "Baseball is a crescendo of joy that fills the stands. And baseball is sudden silence. The hush of error. Then groans or boos."
Is It Any Good?
This is a wonderful ode to America's pastime told in spare, poetic text and textured colored pencil and watercolor illustrations. There's action in the stands, as vendors hawk their snacks and souvenirs, fans cheer and sing "Take Me Out to the Ballgame," and a kid catches a ball in his gloved hand. The spare, poetic text turns lists of elements such as the lineup, innings, plays (the bunt, steal, walk, RBI, error, pop fly, grand slam), and balls (fastball, curve ball, knuckle ball, slider) into evocative collective memory.
Raúl Colón's warm illustrations capture the love of the game, the emotion of the shared experience, and the joy of watching a game where anything can happen at any given moment. Author Louise Borden notes, "It's a game of seconds, / and minutes / and hours... / and it's a game never stopped by a clock."
Did we miss something on diversity?
Research shows a connection between kids' healthy self-esteem and positive portrayals in media. That's why we've added a new "Diverse Representations" section to our reviews that will be rolling out on an ongoing basis. You can help us help kids by suggesting a diversity update.