…We celebrate something beautiful that happens between two people. Who are standing sixty feet six inches apart.
Happy Pitchers and Catchers Report Day!
I may be in chilly New England today, but I can practically hear the smack of balls hitting gloves all across Florida and Arizona. Spring is coming, and baseball is coming with it. In celebration of the most deliciously anticipatory day of the year, here’s a rundown of a few great baseball books for kids and teens.
This might be my favorite book. A perfect mix of magic and myth, adventure and folktale. Michael Chabon takes one reluctant Little League player and sends him on an adventure through the landscape of a unique American mythology that has baseball at its heart. And my apologies for making it sound like some kind of academic treatise there – this is a rollicking good adventure story. Ethan Feld, the least heroic kid and worst ballplayer in the history of Clam Island, is sent on a quest. And if Ethan can’t become a hero, both on the diamond and off, the world will come to an end. Chabon lays it on thick in this novel, and that absolutely works – this is a chance to sit back and watch a truly great storyteller spin a whopper of a yarn.
One of the most warm-hearted books for teens published last year, My Most Excellent Year follows three friends, T.C., Augie, and Alejandra, through their freshmen year of high school in the Boston suburb of Brookline. This is a novel of teens discovering and shaping their own identities, and baseball is central to T.C.’s identity. My favorite thing about My Most Excellent Year is that these teens have agency. They are taking things into their own hands – both in their owns lives and in the world around them. A great choice for teens who like books told through letters, emails, and other documents – and for kids who don’t mind a little romance mixed in with their baseball.
We all knew that Kadir Nelson had some serious chops when it came to art, and We Are the Ship is certainly no exception – in fact, I think it’s his most stunning children’s book art so far. But it turns out that his research and writing are spot-on as well. Some people are just more talented than the rest of us. The story of the Negro Leagues is told here, with engaging biographical information and some of the truly great stories from that era. Hand this to kids who love baseball and watch eyes get wide. Parents too!