From School Library Journal
Grade 2–4—Thirty-six brief poems follow a baseball player's year from snowy February, "the hardest month," through the much-anticipated summer season and back to February. Mostly lighthearted, sometimes wistful verses celebrate snow baseball, unwrapping equipment, and the ups and downs of the season. There are witty portraits of his supportive family and teammates, such as "Automatic Out" Albert and ever-hopeful benchwarmer Ted. Fehler's verses offer simple images and the delights of the game's terse play-by-play. The boy waits at the plate for Gramps's knuckleball: "I wait and wait./It nears the plate/and now/and now/my bat swings/under (maybe over)/it/too soon./Or was the swing/too late?" As the season ends, the snow-covered December ballpark holds only the seeds of "memories planted deep." Wu's comically exaggerated illustrations are done in acrylic and colored pencils. With its charming wordplay and humor, this book should win an audience among readers who long for the sun-warmed days of the baseball season all year long.—Marilyn Taniguchi, Beverly Hills Public Library, CA
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Between an opening game of “Snow Baseball” and a reflective visit the following winter to a “Ballfield in February,” a young player picks out a year’s worth of baseball highs and lows. Along with appreciating his good fortune in having a mom who pitches batting practice, a dad who “hits pop-ups / so high that airplanes / make U-turns in the sky,” and a grandpa who actually pitched in the minors (his curveball “misses my bat / whenever it pleases”), the narrator chronicles mishaps (“I really hate / to hear the sound / of windows when / I’m playing ball”) and weird baseball dreams, as well as such memorable moments as a game-winning hit by teammate “Automatic Out” Albert, and a quick hug from the pitcher after helping her out of a jam with a double play. Reflecting the poems’ generally upbeat tone, Wu’s painted illustrations feature active figures with smiles and bright, wide eyes. Read alone or aloud, this provides just the ticket for driving out winter doldrums. Grades 3-5. --John Peters