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Another baseball season has just begun, so how about some great books on the
subject?
"The Mayor of Central Park", by the award winning Avi, takes the reader back
to a time when mitts were small and the fans were close. The players in this
book are a bit different from the regular mode of players. Avi has written
with an anthropomorphic style making his subjects animals with human
characteristics.  This perspective engages the youthful reader to an
entertaining story. Oscar Westerwit is a squirrel with many friends and a
love for Central Park - and baseball. He is the unofficial mayor of the park
because of his devotion to keeping it safe and homey to his furry and
feathered friends.
However, trouble ensues when he encounters a fleet of bad rats. Their
commander, or "head honcho", Big Daddy Duds, is the worst of them all. He
wants to take over the park and overrun the other rodents and fleet-footed
friends. Can Oscar overcome this mean-spirited fiend? The deciding finale
takes place on a baseball diamond where it's the good guys verses the bad
guys. Avi has accomplished a humorous tongue-in-cheek dialogue that reflects
early 20th century speech with thugs at the center of the story. "Lob no
love lip at me, pal...But, like most everybody also knows, youse ballplayers
are a bundle of bums."   The animals' attire also reflects the dapper and
dainty dress of the day. These images are made not by word alone. There are
wonderfully drawn full page illustrations by Brian Floca.
Avi cleverly writes with alliteration throughout, adding to the language of
the day as demonstrated by Oscar's mother in her exclamation to her son.
"Why....great goodness and gum galoshes". Avi is one of the most prolific,
ingenious and award-winning young reader writers of our day.
This book would be a fun read aloud and is great for 8 to 12 year olds.

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"Mighty Jackie: The Strike-Out Queen", by Marissa Moss, is the true account
of how this 17 year old girl struck out Babe Ruth and Lou Gehrig in the same
exhibition game back in 1931. The illustrations, beautifully painted by C.
F. Payne, fill the pages giving the reader the sense of exasperation both
men must have felt after hearing the umpire yell, "strike three!". The is a
picture book of inspiration that teaches children how hard Jackie Mitchell
had to work to achieve greatness.
"Oliver's Game", written and illustrated by Matt Tavares, is a touching look
at nostalgia and the love of the game. A look into the past of a grandfather
and his chance to play for the Cubs is shared.  A grandfather shares his
chance meeting with the Chicago Cubs manager. He then tells how he received
the opportunity of a lifetime to play in a practice game. This intimate
account will give younger readers a look into what some may think of a dream
come true. The story has a turn of events after the game that shows how some
people deal with adversity.
"Diamond Life: Baseball Sights, Sounds, and Swings", by Charles R. Smith
Jr., jumps off the page from the real photos to the lively poems and graphic
monologues. Smith has captured the mood 'swings' of the player, from the
batter to the deluge of chants from the mound. The words, along with the
pictures, curve, sway, curl and swirl as the ball comes right in your
direction. So, be prepared to duck or catch them as they come right at you!
All three picture books celebrate baseball for 4 to 9 year olds.