Baseball season is under way. To get young readers in the mood, here are some baseball books that bring out all the excitement and beauty of the great American pastime: the thwack of the bat, the smell of a freshly mowed infield and a ball that is going, going gone!
The Super Sluggers: Rainmaker
HarperCollins, $15.99, 240 pages, age 8 and up
The Super Sluggers books are always filled with humor, adventure and excitement. In the newest novel, it's the Rambletown Rounders' last season playing together and they're the defending champs, which should mean that they're riding high.
But the Rounders' ace pitcher is trying to learn to throw the forkball, a pitch no kid should be using. Plus, the spring and summer is unusually wet, so many of the games have been rained out. The team's rafting trip seems like just what everybody needs to take their minds off pitching and weather woes. That is, until a flash flood and a ghost story come into the picture.
King of the Mound: My Summer With Satchel Paige
Simon & Schuster, $16, 160 pages, age 8 and up
Twelve-year-old Nick is on his way to becoming a real baseball star. It's the 1930s, and he is the boy with the golden arm. But then he gets sick with polio, which affects his muscles. Many of the adults around Nick, including his dad, think that Nick's dreams of baseball are over.
Then Nick gets the chance to work out with Satchel Paige, who is probably the best pitcher in baseball. But Paige, like Nick, knows about the need to overcome obstacles. Paige is African American and not allowed to play in the major leagues.
There Goes Ted Williams: The Greatest Hitter Who Ever Lived
Candlewick, $16.99, 40 pages, age 6 and up
This wonderful picture book spends a lot of time talking about the childhood of the famous Boston Red Sox slugger.
As a boy, more than anything in the world Ted Williams wanted to play baseball. But he did more than dream. He was teased on the playground because he was skinny. So Williams worked out to build his muscles (doing push-ups on his fingertips), and he ate a lot to gain weight. And he practiced his swing using a rolled-up newspaper!
How Williams grew up to be "the greatest hitter who ever lived" is an exciting and inspiring story.
HarperCollins, $16.99, 320 pages, age 8 and up
Have you ever thought about trading places with somebody? That's just what happens in this story of two boys, Trevor and Sam, in a modern version of "The Prince and the Pauper."
Trevor is a movie star who dreams of playing baseball. Sam is a talented baseball player who dreams of helping his dad become a successful writer for movies. When the boys who look alike meet accidentally, it seems as if it could be fun and harmless for them to swap identities.