Quote of the Month

When love and skill work together, expect a miracle. John Ruskin

Wednesday, August 6, 2014

...To The Ball Game

The day of the week, other than it being a school day, has left my memory.  It is October 1968.  Several classrooms of students are seated on the high school gymnasium bleachers.  Television sets have been rolled onto the hard wood floors positioned strategically for viewing.  History is in the making as the Detroit Tigers make a bid for the World Series championship.  The passion for "the national pastime" has filled the hallowed halls of learning in a small town situated on the outskirts of the state's capital.

Baseball (or softball) games are commonplace in our neighborhoods with skill levels as varied as our ages and sizes.  We all play to win, even if we know we will probably lose.  Our love of the sport is like a fever.  Attending a major league game is a valued rite of passage.   With eloquence in words and pictures, Baseball Is... (Margaret K. McElderry Books, an imprint of Simon & Schuster Children's Publishing Division) written by Louise Borden with illustrations by Raul Colon brings back memories of every game ever watched or played.

Baseball is our game...
the sport of America.
Its stories are stitched
through our nation's history.

Page by page our combined sensory perceptions about this historic pursuit are recounted little by little, layer by layer, building to the greatness of the game.  Beginning with the field layout, the equipment and the teamwork we are in the ballpark then and now.  We are one of many moving into our seats, eating ball park franks and greeting one another, collectively cheering, sighing and groaning.

We gaze across the expanse.  We hear the national anthem.  We watch as teams of players hit, run and field the sphere of possibility; never really knowing what will happen until it's done.  Our eyes see and our minds' record the terminology associated with every throw, swing and play.

Like any team sport, every individual counts.  Every player has importance; on display before hundreds, thousands of spectators.  We viewers track every aspect of the game in writing or by watching the large stadium displays.  We may be many but we participate as one.

Umpires, managers and announcers make their presence known in little and big decisions.  To follow the game, the history of baseball, is to know the history of our nation.  It's a shared experience worth sharing season after season, year after year.

To read the words gathered together by Louise Borden is to know the game of baseball.  Every nuance is explored bringing readers into the many moments which comprise the past and present of the sport as well as individual games.  Descriptive details enhance our understanding captivating our senses.  Here are two sample passages from a single page.

Baseball is rivers of people
flowing across streets,
streaming onto ramps.

Baseball is wide gates to a swirl of noise,
ticket takers,
ticket stubs,
and vendors,
selling souvenirs.

Opening the matching dust jacket and book case, pure exuberance for baseball bursts from the front and back illustrations.  On the front we see a professional in action with a group of guys, a gal and a dog on the back exclaiming over a hit as they play street ball.  A baseball stadium is placed in the background with other buildings.  Stunning opening and closing endpapers in a rose burgundy with gold etching showcase a collage of players in various positions on the field.  With a page turn a beautiful two page visual takes us into the country as a boy and girl play ball.  When the pitch is thrown, their dog leaps in the air to make the catch.  As a title page this, combined with the dust jacket and book case, gives readers a very real sense of the emotional beauty of baseball.

Each of the two-page pictures rendered in colored pencils by Raul Colon is rich in color and texture.  His shades and hues reflect time and place masterfully.  Smaller illustrations may be placed over the larger picture to provide readers with additional details.

It would be an honor to frame and hang any one of these in my home.  Two stand out for me.  Both have golden sand backgrounds.  One highlights all the many action plays, pitches and hits during a game.  The other showcases the importance of each individual drawing our attention to a player waiting for his at bat.

A tribute, an astonishing anthem in words and pictures, Baseball Is... written by Louise Borden with illustrations by Raul Colon will transport readers to another time and place.  Read it silently to yourself.  Read it aloud to others.  Whatever you do, be sure to share it as often as you can.

If you follow the links embedded in Louise Borden's and Raul Colon's names you can access their websites from more information about their work.  Here is a link to the publisher's website where additional pages are posted for you to view.

For more wonderful nonfiction titles please visit Kidlit Frenzy hosted by Alyson Beecher.  Participants in the 2014 Nonfiction Picture Book Challenge have linked their posts to her page.

I purchased my copy of this title from my favorite independent book store.  I hope your independent book store or local public library has a copy for you to view.


  1. I bought this book for my grandson, who is soon 13, but he loves baseball & it gave him good parts to research farther. Beautiful book.

    1. Yes! There is so much in this book. It's a rich sensory experience. It's made me feel like I was there.

  2. I have had the F&G of this one in my pile of books to read and haven't read it. Will need to pull it out and read it. :-)

    1. I played softball for many summers, attended high school games and Tiger games. Louise captures the essence of the game perfectly.

  3. I loved this book so much! Such a great celebration of history, baseball, and art! Glad you enjoyed it as well.

    1. I freely admit this will be joining several other favorite baseball books. Her passion for the game is evident. Thanks for stopping by Kellee.