cover image Ballpark


Elisha Cooper. Greenwillow Books, $15 (40pp) ISBN 978-0-688-15755-5

Cooper embarks on another distinctively American outing as he records the activities at a stadium from early on the morning of a baseball game to its close. Much like his Country Fair, the author strikes an informality of tone and look that is reminiscent of a notebook (e.g., the type face mimics hand lettering, playfully arranged to suggest the circular motion of a clothes dryer or the arc of a hard-hit baseball; sketchy figures lack facial features; and barely legible scribbles label some of the people and objects pictured). Yet, unlike the inherently child-centered event of a fair, here Cooper inhabits a rather adult world, so readers may feel distanced from the all-American event. The account takes on a new energy at game time, when cheering crowds arrive and the on-field action begins, but still the observations are more sophisticated in nature (e.g. ""the umpire and the manager get belly to belly.... They get personal, and kick dirt""). The most childlike portion of the text is saved for last, ""Outside, against the wall of the park, a boy and a girl throw a ball until it's time for them to go home, too."" This one may have some appeal for die-hard ball players, but will more likely appeal to older fans of Cooper's work. Ages 5-up. (Mar.)