Friday, December 19, 2008

Change-Up Baseball Poems Gene Fehler Donald Wu

Change-Up: Baseball Poems by Gene Fehler -I love baseball and was very happy to get an advanced copy of this forthcoming book of baseball poems from Clarion Books. (thanks Jennifer) A good sports book puts a smile on my face. A good sports book makes me thankful that I can appreciate a game, the game, any game. A good sports book makes me feel bad for those who can't see the beauty in the game.

Change- Up is a great collection of baseball poems. There's a very nice cohesive flow (thanks Project Runway) to this collection. Though every poem stands strong on its own when read in order it tells the story of a baseball season, through the eyes of a shortstop/pitcher. One of the things I love about this collection is, feeling the love, this young player has for the game of baseball. We are introduced to some of his baseball loving family. I love that moms is a lover of the game along with the dad and grandpa.

Mom (an excerpt)

Some moms are too busy
to ever come to your ballgames

My mom pitches me batting practice
hits me grounders, then dives
in the dirt to field mine. At breakfast

some moms nag about homework or how
you're dressed for school. Mine grabs the morning
paper to read the box scores.

Some baseball players and fans can be very superstitious (me included) There's a poem called Superstitions, I'll tease you with the last verse.

Well, I'm not superstitious
Not me. No, not a bit
But now I'd better kiss my bat
it's almost time to hit.

I Visualized the Ball (an excerpt)
I visualized the ball so well
I could read every word written on it
The name on the baseball, Spalding, spoke to me, saying "How do you do?"
"Fine" I said, and I hit the ball
smack on that name and visualized it all the way over the fence"

Fehler is able to describe the craziness that is a knuckleball. For all the girls who play or simply enjoy the game along with the baseball loving mom there's Gabby one of the Stars best pitchers and she has her very own poem.

Now the illustrations. I already dropped the L word a few times, and I will happily do it again. I loved Donald Wu's illustrations. Wu's artwork compliments Fehler text very well. I'll do my best to describe two of my favorite pictures. In the first one a batter hits a surprise two strike bunt- the ball is at the edge of the paper, so close and clean the stitching can be counted , and its hugging the line. Then there's the eyes of the players - the fielder and catcher look surprised and worried, the hitter looks hopeful and happy.

In my second favorite- a baseball breaks a light in the outfield. The ball shatters in two, everything falls together including speckles of yellow making it look like stars are falling. With all of that happening the outfielder remembers to keep her eye on the ball.

Baseball fans will love this collection of poems. The last baseball book I raved about like this was James Preller's Six Innings back in May. Six Innings has since made New York Public Library 100 Books for reading or sharing list. I am not trying to say anything, am just saying.
Change-Up Baseball Poems is due to be released on February 16.


Apryl DeLancey said...

Nice! I know how much you love baseball. I would love to read this too.

Doret said...

I knew you'd like this post. It is a great book

Anonymous said...

Thanks for your wonderful comments about my book CHANGE-UP. I'm glad you liked it. I also really loved Donald Wu's illustrations.

Gene Fehler