Bats at the Ballgame
written and illustrated by Brian Lies
(Houghton Mifflin Harcourt) 2010
Source: Mebane Public Library
As dusk approaches, the bats are getting excited about the night's ballgame. The hometown team is facing an opponent is facing an opponent that has proven unbeatable. Before the game, Mothdogs and Cricket Jack are munched upon while the field is lined and the mound raked. After the national anthem is sung and the words "Play ball" announced, bat fans hang upside down in anticipation for the first pitch. It's a scoreless pitcher's duel until the seventh inning when the opposition manages to bring a run home. The bottom of the ninth arrives and the score is still the same. Will the hometown bats suffer a Mudville fate?
Bats at the Ballgame is a wonderful paean to baseball. Brian Lies, through action packed text and adorable illustrations, nails the sounds and emotions of the great game with bats as the vehicle. During the seventh inning stretch, the crowd sings "Ohh... hang me up in the rafters! Hang me up by the toes! Buy me some beenuts and Cricket Jack-" As a lifelong fan of baseball, my favorite part of the book was when the grandbats reflected upon heroes of the past. For this section, Lies created illustrations of bats resembling Willie Mays, Lou Gehrig, Jackie Robinson, Babe Ruth, and other past baseball greats. Brian even included a Pesky Pole! Bats at the Ballgame makes me glad that it will only be a few short weeks until pitchers and catchers report to spring training.
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