Play ball! Summer is the time for the great game of baseball and the time for some great summer reading. The Fort Worth Library offers an exciting variety of novels, picture books and instructional books about America's favorite pastime. So check out some of these books about baseball -- they're sure to be a hit.
The Brooklyn Nine: A Novel in Nine Innings
By Alan Gratz
Dial Books, 2009
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One hundred and fifty years of baseball history are shared through the experiences of nine generations of one American family. Chapter One -- the first "inning" - is set in 1845. Felix Schneider, a German immigrant, watches the Knickerbockers play a new game called "three-out." Felix meets Alexander Cartwright, one of the players and founders of the game. In the second "inning," Felix's son Louis enlists as a Union soldier during the Civil War, where he encounters a Confederate soldier who has been blinded but shares Louis' love of baseball. Chapter Three is about Louis' son Arnold, who is dismayed to discover that his favorite ballplayer has become a washed-up alcoholic. Six more innings follow, as the subsequent generations witness various events including racism, professional women's baseball and the end of the Brooklyn Dodgers. Included in the book are notes about the famous people and important events mentioned in the book.
Casey Back at Bat
By Dan Gutman
Illustrated by Steve Johnson and Lou Fancher
This rollicking sequel to Earnest Laurence Thayer's classic poem The Mudville Nine gives the mighty Casey a chance at redemption. Once again, it's the bottom of the ninth, the bases are loaded and Mudville is behind. As Casey advances to the plate, the fans hold their collective breath. Will he strike out again? Not this time. Instead, Casey hits the ball out of the park -- and it keeps on going, traveling across the world and even back in time, knocking the nose off the Sphinx and whizzing past dinosaurs. Playful illustrations showing newspaper pages printed on the uniforms of the players enhance the tale. Will there finally be joy in Mudville? To find out, read this hilarious story with a delightful surprise ending.
H Is for Home Run: A Baseball Alphabet
By Brad Herzog
Illustrated by Melanie Rose
Sleeping Bear Press, 2004
Here's an alphabet book that can be enjoyed by baseball fans of all ages. Each page focuses on a different letter of the alphabet, offering a short poem using the letter, as well as a baseball-related term. The pages also have information about baseball terms, players and great moments in baseball history. The oil painting illustrations are a nice enhancement. Younger children can use the alliterative verses to practice their letter sounds, while older readers will enjoy the baseball trivia. It's a home run for the whole family.
Journal of Biddy Owens: The Negro Leagues
By Walter Dean Myers
It's 1948, and 17-year-old Biddy Owens is working as a batboy for the Birmingham Black Barons, a Negro Leagues baseball team. Biddy dreams of playing in the majors as he and his teammates travel the United States to play exhibition games and encounter intense racism in the Southern cities. Along the way, Biddy meets legendary players Willie Mays and Hank Aaron. By the end of the season, Biddy comes to understand the obstacles that black players must face as well as his own limited ability. This coming-of-age story will be of great interest to history buffs and baseball fans alike.
Play Ball Like the Pros: Tips for Kids From 20 Big League Stars
By Steven Krasner
Peachtree Publishers, 2010
Young ball players wishing to improve their skills have the opportunity to learn from the experts. Derek Jeter, Dustin Pedroia and 18 more big-leaguers offer kids instructions and tips. Each chapter focuses on a different position and includes an interview with the star player, a glossary and information about the player and the history of the game. The easily readable format makes this an especially instructive and enjoyable choice for young ballplayers.
Players in Pigtails
By Shana Corey
Scholastic Press, 2003
Everybody has heard the song Take Me Out to the Ball Game. But few people know that the song actually is about Katie Casey, a fictional young lady who had baseball fever "and had it bad." Author Shana Corey used these verses to create a delightful story about the real-life professional women's league that existed during World War II. After Katie is discovered by a scout, she is sent to Chicago for a tryout and is selected by the Kenosha Comets. At first, some onlookers make fun of Katie and her female teammates. But then the Comets put on their baseball dresses, touch up their makeup, start playing -- and soon have the fans cheering. This book does a great job of presenting a fascinating piece of history in a way children can understand and enjoy.
Claire Abraham is a children's librarian at the Fort Worth Library. These books are available at most library branches.