RULES OF THE GAME

BASEBALL POEMS

A singularly unattractive, cramped design does nothing to help this collection of baseball-themed poems. From “Balk” to “Grand Slam,” 42 poems tackle seemingly every aspect of play, even including the defunct “Catch on Bound” rule that hasn’t pertained for eons. Some of the imagery is nicely apt: from “Home Run,” “Anything less is a slice. / Hungry, you want the whole pie. / With the ball out of sight past the wall, / you crave every last crumb of the run...” Internal rhymes and wordplay provide most of the energy that drives this particular engine, and at their best, they’re good fun. Unfortunately, the sheer volume of poems—often four to a spread, all rendered in the same tightly leaded lines of type in a 13-point font—overwhelms readers. Sandford’s pencil illustrations, some hyperrealistic, some more playful (a startled batter, Band-aid on his hand, jumps out of the path of a “Beanball”), are set on an unvaried pale-orange background; the relentless visual sameness of each spread combines with the mass of print on the page to strike this one out. (Picture book/poetry. 11-14)

Pub Date: April 1, 2009

ISBN: 978-1-59078-603-1

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Wordsong/Boyds Mills

Review Posted Online: June 24, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2009

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Sympathetic in tone, optimistic in outlook, not heavily earnest: nothing to be afraid of.

SCARED STIFF

50 PHOBIAS THAT FREAK US OUT

Part browsing item, part therapy for the afflicted, this catalog of irrational terrors offers a little help along with a lot of pop psychology and culture.

The book opens with a clinical psychologist’s foreword and closes with a chapter of personal and professional coping strategies. In between, Latta’s alphabetically arranged encyclopedia introduces a range of panic-inducers from buttons (“koumpounophobia”) and being out of cellphone contact (“nomophobia”) to more widespread fears of heights (“acrophobia”), clowns (“coulroiphobia”) and various animals. There’s also the generalized “social anxiety disorder”—which has no medical name but is “just its own bad self.” As most phobias have obscure origins (generally in childhood), similar physical symptoms and the same approaches to treatment, the descriptive passages tend toward monotony. To counter that, the author chucks in references aplenty to celebrity sufferers, annotated lists of relevant books and (mostly horror) movies, side notes on “joke phobias” and other topics. At each entry’s end, she contributes a box of “Scare Quotes” such as a passage from Coraline for the aforementioned fear of buttons.

Sympathetic in tone, optimistic in outlook, not heavily earnest: nothing to be afraid of. (end notes, resource list) (Nonfiction. 11-14)

Pub Date: Feb. 4, 2014

ISBN: 978-1-936976-49-2

Page Count: 224

Publisher: Zest Books

Review Posted Online: Nov. 13, 2013

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 2013

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JAM!

THE STORY OF JAZZ MUSIC

A busy page design—artily superimposed text and photos, tinted portraits, and break-out boxes—and occasionally infelicitous writing (“Trumpeter Dizzy Gillespie became . . . bandleader of the quintet at the Onyx Club, from which bebop got its name”) give this quick history of jazz a slapdash air, but Lee delves relatively deeply into the music’s direct and indirect African roots, then goes beyond the usual tedious tally of names to present a coherent picture of specific influences and innovations associated with the biggest names in jazz. A highly selective discography will give readers who want to become listeners a jump start; those seeking more background will want to follow this up with James Lincoln Collier’s Jazz (1997). (glossary, further reading, index) (Nonfiction. 9-11)

Pub Date: Aug. 1, 1999

ISBN: 0-8239-1852-1

Page Count: 64

Publisher: N/A

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 1999

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