The Night Before Baseball at the Park by the Bay

David Schnell, illus. by Macky Pamintuan. Prospect Palo Alto Publishing (www.nightbeforebaseball.com), $14.95 (32p) ISBN 978-0-9891043-0-2
Published in partnership with the San Francisco Giants, this ode to baseball—and to the Giants in particular—mashes up Opening Day and Christmas Day as it riffs on "The Night Before Christmas." Schnell's verse borrows that poem's cadence and rhyme scheme, introducing a young baseball fan with dreams not of sugarplums, but of Major League glory: "While he falls deep asleep, Ryan cradles his glove/ and dreams of pitching a big game for the Giants, his love." Pamintuan's (Down at the Dino Wash Deluxe) crisp illustrations capture the excitement of the crowd and the determination of the players as the game in Ryan's dream becomes a pitcher's duel, with the Giants up one run in the ninth inning when the coach taps Ryan as the closing pitcher. Ryan takes to the mound and—no surprise—strikes out three batters in a row. Using Moore's holiday poem for inspiration adds little (other than a ready-made structure), but baseball fans who hail from the Bay Area should find it easy to forgive some rhythmic oddities and root for Ryan and the home team. Ages 3–6.
Reviewed on: 12/16/2013
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