cover image DIAMOND LIFE: Baseball Sights, Sounds, and Swings

DIAMOND LIFE: Baseball Sights, Sounds, and Swings

Charles R. Smith. Jr. Scholastic/Orchard, $14.95 (32pp) ISBN 978-0-439-43180-4

Just in time for spring training, Smith (Rimshots ; Hoop Queens ) offers up an irrepressible, visually bold paean to everything baseball. As with his previous books, each spread bears an evocative title and showcases an impressionistic, color-saturated photo—in this case, from Little League play. The typography often seems as rowdy as a hometown crowd. In "Hear That Sound?!" a baseball is seen at the moment it tips into a fielder's glove (the batter's shadow appears on the ground), while on the opposite page, a stack of onomatopoeia in an array of type sizes and colors explodes off a bright yellow background—"Pop!/ Scratch/ Whiff!/ Whack!/ Whooooosh!" Other poems' pacing and banter capture specific positions on the field: "Diamond Vision" takes the calm, watchful perspective of a catcher ("From behind the mask/ my eyes do see/ the game unfold/ in front of me"), while the pitcher narrates in a rapid-fire rap-style in "What's My Name?" ("They call me/ The Dominator/ Mound Intimidator,/ Missile Throwing/ High and Tight/ Strike Activator"). The book isn't quite a home run, however. The dense copy blocks in a number of poems plus the hyperkinetic type may eventually try readers' patience. But for youngsters who can think of little else once baseball season starts, this may be almost as satisfying as knocking one out of the park. All ages. (Mar.)