Thursday, April 5, 2012

Baseball Poetry

In honor of baseball’s opening day, we are looking at a couple of baseball books each one told in verse.  I suppose that baseball has a long tradition with verse from Take Me Out to the Ballpark to Casey at Bat.  It is great that I can share these books in the month of April which many celebrate as Poetry Month.  

Poem Runs: Baseball Poems by Douglas Florian is a set of poems featuring different players on the baseball diamond including the umpire, the baseball, even the warm-up.  The poems are creative, fun, and alive.  Along with each poem is a beautiful illustration, sometimes integrating shape poetry.  While these poems are simple and short, they are precise in their knowledge about baseball, describing the ins and outs of the game.  One poem features a second baseman who loves to work the double play, another tells about the right fielder; sometimes know as being the least important on the field.   My husband, a first basemen,  particularly appreciated the poem about his position. This book is perfect as a read aloud, like most poetry, but also would be very accessible to young independent readers.  Highly recommended for read alouds and elementary readers grades 2-5

Stars in the Shadows: The Negro League All-Star Game of 1934 written by Charles R. Smith Jr. and illustrated by Frank Morrison is also written in verse.  This book features a hundred of pages of baseball narrative told from the point of view of a baseball announcer.  Intermingled with the sports report are old-fashioned commercials and short fan interviews.  The spirit of old fashioned baseball is very alive in this book, but the couplets are sometimes forced and distracting.  While the verse may not be natural, the book’s illustrations are absolutely beautiful.  The style of the pencil drawn figures fits perfectly with the time period, so much so they almost steal show.  Non-fiction books are not often set to verse, and this non-fiction book depicts a truly inspiring story of the Negro League.  Recommended for fans of baseball, books in verse, and those inspired by true stories in Grades 3 - 6  

"And somewhere men are laughing,
and somewhere children shout;
But there is no joy in Mudville 
mighty Casey has struck out."

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