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Friday, September 10, 2010

Change-up, written by Gene Fehler and illustrated by Donald Wu. Clarion. Distributed in Canada by Thomas Allen & Son, Toronto. 2009. $21.95 hardcover

"Well, I'm not superstitious
Not me. No, not a bit
But now I'd better kiss my bat
it's almost time to hit."

Baseball fans CAN find poetry books that will amuse and delight them. I remember telling you about Gene Fehler’s wonderful novel in verse, called Beanball (Clarion 2008). As fingers itch to throw the ball, coaches begin preparing for their new recruits, and baseball tossing between aspiring players heralds spring, this fine book explores all aspects of the ‘great game of summer’. It begins in earnest with avid players using snowballs to keep muscles limber and takes the reader through an entire season, ending...

"In December

Our ball field is barren now,
except for snow,
except for memories."

I love baseball and look forward to any Blue Jays, Yankees, Boston Red Sox game on television when I am home in the evenings. So, I was happy to receive this book by accomplished writer and poet, Gene Fehler. I know that there are many who will enjoy it with me. It is an homage to the 'grand old game' and put a smile on my face as I read each well-written and descriptive poem.

It takes readers through an entire season with a young boy who delights in playing the game, sharing it with his Dad, his Grandpa and his Mom.

"Some moms are too busy
to ever come to your ballgames

My mom pitches me batting practice
hits me grounders, then dives
in the dirt to field mine..."

It runs the gamut, and Gene Fehler makes provides an excellent collection for his rapt audience. On one hand he describes the zany pitch that is a knuckleball and on the other includes a poem about Gabby, a girl with a great arm, who is a pitching ace for the team.

The illustrations deserve your undivided attention to the detail on each page. The expressive faces, the baseball field, the broken overhead light, and the players whose focus never shifts from the job they are there to do will enchant and engage interested readers. There are many magical moments here and they make you feel like you are right on the field with the players and the officials.

Poetry is such a relief to reluctant readers. There is not too much text, it tells a story quickly and with well chosen words. To find a book that attracts ardent baseball fans and gives them such a clear picture of a beloved sport is a real accomplishment.

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