They've been to the beach. They've patronized the library. And now, Brian Lies' adorable bats are going to watch--what else?--a baseball game. The third installment in this highly appealing series is full of charm, visual humor and--if you are a Red Sox fan--a couple of in-jokes for your reading pleasure.
One of the reasons the bat books are so much fun is the opportunity they provide for sight gags. After a couple of double page spreads of bats flying towards the ball park, Lies treats his readers to the sight of bats hanging from the rafters to take in the game, catching mothdogs and Cricket Jack from a flying vendor. Groundsbats prep the mound with a fork. A dismayed fan hides behind his wings. There is so much to see in each illustration--right side up as well as upside down. And in this particular title there is also the scope for word play to add to the humor. Start with the title: Bats at the Ballgame. Everyone knows that you can't play baseball without a bat! It was inevitable that the line "bats at bat" would be used at some time during the story, yet it's still funny when it finally comes round. And the opportunity to accuse the bat ump of being blind.......well, I suppose Lies just couldn't help himself there!
Red Sox fans will notice that the good guys are wearing red caps (and socks!) An old-timer talks reverently of a player, number 24, making an outstanding catch in the field (I wonder if Dwight Evans is a particular hero to Lies.) There is a green, manual--make that, "batual"--scoreboard, not unlike the one on the Green Monster at Fenway. And the mention of a "pesky pole" is just blatant! But even if the reader isn't a member of Red Sox Nation--simply a fan of the game--there is plenty to enjoy in this clever, affectionate, and engaging love letter to baseball and the fans who follow the bats of summer.
Bats at the Ballgame is due for release in September, 2010. Just in time for the postseason.