The baseball season opened last week. Here are two new books from Sports Illustrated Kids for fans young and older. Thanks to Blue Slip Media for the finished copies for review.
Sports Illustrated Kids: My First Book of Baseball: mostly everything explained about the game by the Editors of Sports Illustrated Kids. A Rookie Book. 48 p. Time Inc. Books/ Liberty Street, April 5, 2016. 9781618931672.
This jaunty, colorful book uses the nine innings of a baseball game as a framework to explain the ins and outs of the game for baseball's youngest and would-be fans. A pint-sized cartoon Little Leaguer announces he's ready to play ball on the cover. Front end-page illustrations feature him at bat; final end-page illustrations feature him in the outfield. He provides a running commentary throughout the rest of the book in which double-page spreads feature photographs of pro-ballers to illustrate everything from standing for the National Anthem to receiving a pie in the face for hitting the game-winning grand slam.
The background colors pop. The text is arranged on the page to emphasize the point. As an example, the words, "The pitcher peers in at the catcher." are angled downward from the pitcher's eyes, an arrow travels from his eyes across the gutter and downward to the catcher on the bottom corner of the recto-page. Meanwhile, the batter on the recto-page is looking to the third-base coach for directions.
What a fun introduction to the game! This book is bound to cement some parent-child bonding over America's Pastime.
And for older fans who want to know more trivia:
Baseball Then to WOW! by the Editors of Sports Illustrated Kids. 80 p. Time Inc. Books/ Liberty Street, April 5, 2016. 9781618931429.
The ball players as well as the lettering on the cover of this attractive volume are embossed, adding a tactile element. The end-page decoration is striped in a vaguely Yankee pinstripe to this casual Bronx Bombers fan. The contents are divided into four chapters with the first two entitled, The Basics and The Players. The Basics covers the evolution of the rules illustrated on a time-line. The two leagues each receive a double-page spread. Four pages are devoted to the changing fashions of the uniforms, with the wild 1970s getting its own full page. Finally, gloves, masks and stadiums are covered.
The Players chapter is divided into types - sluggers; "five-tool" players; hit men; glove wizards; and speedsters. A section explains how the speed of pitches has been measured through the years. Two pages feature the secret weapons of a variety of pitchers. Two pages discuss the first non-white players, such as African-American, Latin American and Japanese players. Then, there are the characters, the larger-than-life players known for their humor in addition to their talent, such as Yogi Berra. No baseball book would be complete without a section featuring milestones.
A chapter called "Play Ball" features information on managers, pitching staff, umpires, women's baseball, dynasties, with the Yankees garnering two full pages of information and "the rest" sharing the next two. The concluding chapter, Fan-tastic, takes a look at merchandising, aka further exploitation of fans to increase revenue. The cynicism is all mine. This chapter looks at endorsements, the history of the baseball card and includes the popularity of baseball video games and fantasy leagues.
Baseball Then to WOW! is a fine addition to any collection. The clean layout provides an organized, humorous journey for the eyes. Text boxes are crammed with fun facts but are not overwhelming. New and seasoned fans of the game will find much to enjoy here.