BY GLENN TOLLE
I’ve never been good at baseball. I can remember my dad tossing me a ball and trying to hit it, only to have the bat fly out of my hands and nearly hit him in the face fifteen feet away. I attribute my poor baseball skills – and my poor athletic skills for that matter – to my lack of interest in organized sports. Thanks to my boss at a job I recently started, however, I now have a renewed appreciation for the sport, which might explain this installment of FRIGHTS FOR TYKES. The book is FIELD OF SCREAMS by Kieran Flynn published by Apple in 1998 as part of the SCREAMMATES series.
I picked this piece of children’s fright fiction up at a used book sale after its wonderful cover caught my eye – the best piece of artwork in the entire book. The story centers on Josh, a new kid in town who loves and plays baseball. But he doesn’t play well under pressure, much like Red Muldoon, a pitcher from local lore who was unable to strike out the competing team’s best hitter Bugsy McGee to win the final game. Things are already pretty bad for Josh after he makes a fool of himself trying to impress the neighborhood kids on the baseball field, but when he starts being haunted by a baseball player who, like him, doesn’t want to be a “loser” anymore, Josh really starts feeling the heat, quite literally.
FIELD OF SCREAMS is a quick read with large print that maxes out at 78 pages. It moves briskly from chapter to chapter and employs body horror and visceral visuals to score scare points. I was actually surprised how graphic this book was and thoroughly enjoyed the descriptions of the rotting team Josh and Red face off against. I also enjoyed the baseball aspect of the book much more than I would have even a few months ago.
You don’t have to be a fan of the sport to enjoy this tasty slice of children’s horror fiction. Much like going to a baseball game, a large part of the fun is everything else that’s going on, like the food and the fireworks, or in this case the gore and the ghosts. FIELD OF SCREAMS covers all the bases needed to have a great scary read for kids. It’s eerie, it’s gruesome, it’s got a lot of hair-raising parts, and a lot of heart. So go ahead, visit the FIELD OF SCREAMS when you get a chance; even if you or your kid isn’t particularly into baseball, he’ll still have a great time!