ABCs of Baseball

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An illustrated dictionary of baseball for all ages.

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I was, initially, disappointed that this book was not an “ABC” book, but rather a dictionary of baseball terms. But then I decided I liked the idea.  After all, I really don’t need another ABC book in my own home (not that I need any more books in my home). So yeah, I think, a nifty little book to have around the house. Maybe put it right next to the radio so The Middle Boy can pick it up while listening to Tom Hamilton belt out the game (Yes. We’re Indians fans here).

The book is great. Really. Simple definitions for the common terms in baseball.  For example: “Mound: The raised circle in the middle of the field where the pitcher stands.” I noticed that under “J” there was the definition of “Joy: What you feel watching the game.” But I didn’t see under “T”, “Trepidation: An emotion experienced by most Indians fans any time the team is ahead in the game.” Other than that, most of the useful terms in baseball are covered.

After those have been learned, the reader can turn to the back and peruse the fun facts. Part of the love of baseball, after all, is the trivia behind it. There are all sorts of facts back there, too. Facts about baseballs, pitch grips, baseball bats, the sport itself, teams, players, awards, and statistics (through 2010). Fun stuff in the back of the book!

My final point is one of contention, as the author of this book is (apparently) a well-known sportswriter. I am convinced now that there is a shortage of editors. I know, you thought it was my typo in the title in title of this post. But it’s not. Even the spell check in WordPress knows that “ABCs” should be “ABC’s.” Also, some of the definitions are in need of a little simple grammar.

Still, in baseball terms, this book is a triple.

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  • Author: Peter Golenbock
  • Publisher: Dial (February 2, 2012)
  • Hardcover 48 pages
  • Reading Age: Ages 6+

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What You Need to Know

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  • Role Models/Authority Figures - Babe Ruth is mentioned within the definition, and other players are mentioned in the “Fun Facts” portion of the book.
  • Violence - None.
  • Sexual Content - None.
  • Language - None.
  • Consumerism – Cracker Jack are mentioned. “Hot Dog” is defined as “what baseball fans love to eat.” I’m not saying this isn’t true and that it necessarily bothers me, I’m just saying that some would say it encourages one to consume hot dogs at the ball game. Peanuts, too. Of course,  MLB is inherent in all of this. The teams are listed in the back of the book, broken down by League and Division. Baseball cards.
  • Drinking/Smoking/Drugs – None. No mention of the steroid scandal.
  • Religion - None.
  • Other -
  • Awards

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Brothers at Bat

Summary

During the summers spanning the 1920’s and 1930’s, baseball was big. The Acerra family was big. The 12 brothers formed a baseball team and played longer together than any of the other 29 all-brother baseball teams. This book is their story.

Review

Twelve brothers play baseball together – as a team – for over 30 years. I’m partial to feel-good stories about families. My children are too. My children are also partial to stories about baseball. That said, there really isn’t a way to kill a story faster than bad writing. Are my standards too high? Is it too much to ask for a good story and good writing? I’m beginning to think so. Reading aloud became a chore as I stumbled over the odd use of direct quotations, inconsistent use of names (there are 12 boys! let’s make it easy to remember who’s who, no?), and the weird punctuation. Where was the editor?  The best writing takes place on the final page of the book where Ms. Vernick provides her “Author’s Note.” I’m not sure why she didn’t write the entire book that well?

I love the illustrations (done by Steven Salerno). The drawings remind me of an updated Lois Lenski and really cemented the historical feel of the book.

Details

  • Author: Audrey Vernick
  • Publisher: Clarion Books (April 3, 2012)
  • Hardcover 40 pages
  • Reading Age: Ages 4 +

What You Need to Know

  • Role Models/Authority Figures – The Acerra family! Twelve boys and four girls remain close throughout their lives.
  • Violence - Some boys go off to fight World War II ( we don’t see them, they just go off and fight)
  • Sexual Content - One son comes home from the war and “was so excited that he went up to women he didn’t even know and kissed them!” (28)
  • Language - None
  • Consumerism - None.
  • Drinking/Smoking/Drugs - None
  • Religion - None.
  • Other - This is a true story.
  • Awards