cover image Playing Right Field

Playing Right Field

Willy Welch. Scholastic, $13.95 (32pp) ISBN 978-0-590-48298-1

The narrator of this perky rhyming tale recalls ""Saturday summers, when I was a kid,"" when he and his buddies ran to the schoolyard and split into two baseball teams. The ""strongest and fastest"" get the infield positions, while the boy trots off to the same spot: ""I never needed to ask. It was sealed./ I just took up my place in right field."" There he lays on his back, daydreaming... until he suddenly realizes that something is happening (""I don't know the inning. I've forgotten the score./ The whole team is yelling and I don't know what for""). The big event, of course, is a fly ball heading right for him. Catching it handily, he becomes a hero for a minute, and then returns to watching the dandelions grow. Recorded as a song by Peter, Paul & Mary, this story is scant but endearing, bound to strike a chord with chronic outfielders of any age. The first-time children's author, however, falters occasionally with the rhythm (""Sometimes I'd dream I was Mathews or Mays/ hitting home runs and making great plays./ But they were so graceful, and they were so fast;/ they never batted last""). Caldecott Medalist Simont's (A Tree Is Nice) fetching charcoal-and-watercolor pictures lend the timeless, nostalgic quality the story warrants. Ages 3-7. (Apr.)