Starred Review, Kirkus Reviews . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . August 15, 2010

Previously Lies has given his bats nights at the library and the beach with great success. Now they play night baseball on a ballfield laid out under a circus tent with crowds of bat fans and vendors selling appropriate snacks like “mothdogs.” The game proceeds with swoops and slides and a win for the home team. The action is described in verse with the rhymes in easy, breezy aabb form for setup and denouement and heightened “Casey at the Bat” cadences and couplets for the game itself. Lies’s acrylic illustrations appear as full- and double-page spreads and scattered, unframed vignettes, and all are filled with copious detail depicting uniforms, regalia and play-by-play. The visual effect is quite stunning, with some fantastically disorienting upside-down spreads to reflect the fans’ hanging position, and much of the language is utterly delicious. A broad knowledge of baseball and its place in the American consciousness is assumed, as is an ability to roll with rather sophisticated vocabulary and phrasing. But as a read-aloud by a baseball fan, it’s sure to inspire a love of the game—and maybe of bats as well. (Picture book. 5-8)


Starred Review, Publishers Weekly . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . July 19, 2010

Baseball stadiums have an innate magic, never more so than in the hands of Lies, whose latest has the winged creatures gathering for an epic game, complete with “beenuts and Cricket Jack,” and an upside down audience. Smooth, unhurried rhymes illuminate a hidden world where bats, like humans, “feel a magic shift,/ and ride the currents of the game/ as time is set adrift.” Each gleaming page is thick with detail, from the bats’ first arrival (“We wing from dark to dazzling bright,/ startled by the stunning sight”) to the final play. Fans of the other baseball bats will certainly enjoy these ones. Ages 3–7. (Sept.) 

School Library Journal

PreS-Gr 3–As in Bats at the Beach (2006) and Bats at the Library (2008, both Houghton Harcourt), Lies’s luminous acrylic illustrations are the highlight here. The bats are earnest and cuddly, with translucent eyes and twitchy noses. Here, they’re engaged in a topsy-turvy baseball game of dizzying perspectives. The game is played on the ground, though the participants swoop, glide, and soar around the bases and the spectators hang upside down above them in the stands. The illustrations, with brilliant colors and eye-catching details, carry the story when the verses fall flat. Fans will enjoy the bats’ version of the game: flying vendors offer mothdogs and Cricket Jack, as the grounds crew marks the baselines with powdered sugar and rakes the pitcher’s mound with a fork. Careful readers will find plenty of inventive details to make this latest outing to the bats’ nocturnal world worthwhile.

Marilyn Taniguchi, Beverly Hills Public Library, CA
© Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc.  . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . June 2, 2010

Rave Review: Bats at the Ballgame by Brian Lies

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.