Welcome to SPORTY GIRL BOOKS. At SPORTY GIRL, we want to give all girls the chance to love, watch, play, read, and write about any sport that interests them. We look forward to the day when the words, "You play like a girl," is the biggest compliment anyone can receive.

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Sporty Book Review: Let Me Play, by Karen Blumenthal

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Nonfiction, history in particular, gives us a deeper understanding of the foundation upon which our experiences are built. Such is the case with Karen Blumenthal’s 2005, LET ME PLAY.

I finished this book a week ago but it has seeped so deeply into my consciousness that I continue to bring it up whenever possible. While the focus of the book is Title IX and its effects on sports programs for girls and women, it is much, much more. It is a book about how policy and politics matter to all of us.

The book, appropriate for grades five and up, begins with an easy-to-read survey of the early fight for women’s right from Seneca Falls in 1848, to Women’s Suffrage, to a quick summary of the 1930’s and 1940’s, to the effect of war on women and work. This quick historic review sets the stage for the 1963 Equal Pay Act and the 1964 Civil Rights Act.

Blumenthal concentrates on Representative Edith Green and Representative Patsy Mink who worked tirelessly drafting, honing, and defending equal educational opportunities for women throughout their long tenures in the US Congress. The original intent of the Education Amendments of 1972 was not to equal the playing fields but the classrooms—educational programs for schools receiving federal money including admissions, scholarships, and teaching salaries. The opening of physical education and athletic programs was an unexpected bonus for all the girls and women who had been turned away from little league, track meets, swimming pools, and more.

LET ME PLAY highlights key political and sports players in sidebars called “Player Profiles.” In “Instant Replays,” we learn about key historical events. Throughout the book “Scorecards,” show statistics comparing the numbers of male and female participants in sports, admissions to undergrad, and admissions to select graduate programs. These statistics show the consistent progress of women in athletics and education. While these “Scorecards” are understated, they are inspiring and empowering to the reader.

There are many current female athletes, girls and women alike, who are ignorant about the fight that got us the freedoms we enjoy today. These athletes might not remember a world where the adults or men in women’s and girl’s lives wouldn’t let them play soccer, basketball, softball, rugby, or field hockey—a day when being feminine and fertile was more important than a woman’s talents and dreams. Those days were not so long ago, and many of the issues from the 1960’s, The Equal Pay Act, are still being challenged and fought in 2014. LET ME PLAY is the book that reminds those who may have forgotten, and teaches those who never knew, that we owe our freedoms to women and men who came before us.

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Researching Concussions

In between fiction projects, I recently took a nonfiction assignment. I’m writing about concussions. It’s a very timely subject, but writing for a fourth and fifth grade level is a little tricky on this serious subject.

Did you know that according to the CDC girls are most likely to get a concussion while playing soccer or while biking than any other activity? *

Boys are more likely to suffer from concussions while playing football. 

The takeaway from all the research I’ve been doing is this:

  • Ask some key questions if you suspect a concussion.
a.     Do you remember what happened?
b.     What is the date?
c.     Can you remember the last play?
  • Observe the person.
a.     Do they seem dizzy?
b.     Can they walk in a straight line?
c.     Do they appear “off” in any way?
d.     Do they complain of a headache?

If you even suspect a possible concussion—even if the person says they are okay—ask them some questions and observed their behavior. If they seem “off” in any way, make them sit out the game and get medical assistance as soon as possible. A second hit after a first concussion, can be devastating and, sometimes, deadly.

I don't have a publication date for my book, but it will likely be next fall.

I recommend Robert Cantu’s book CONCUSSIONS AND OUR KIDS: http://robertccantumd.com/concussions-and-our-kids/

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Girlsports initiative from Girl Scouts (GSUSA)

I wanted to share with you today some information about an initiative from the Girl Scouts of the USA (GSUSA). In the fall of 2013, GSUSA relaunched its GirlSports initiative. Together with Nestlé USA, they are “proud to continue Girl Scouts' century-long legacy of committing to girls' leadership by actively engaging millions of girls in sports, nutrition, and healthy living.”

As a Girl Scout leader and mother of a pre-teen girl, I love that the Girl Scouts are encouraging fitness and being strong. The following is from a press release dated September 13, 2013.

"Today's youth have been raised indoors, away from the physical activity that was so common just a generation ago," said Anna Maria Chávez, CEO of Girl Scouts of the USA. "GirlSports is about reminding girls of the importance of staying active and staying fit, and teaching them how they can have fun in the process."

Since 1912, Juliette Gordon Low, founder of Girl Scouts, believed that health, nutrition, and fitness were essential to the Girl Scout experience. Girl Scouts hiked, played basketball, went on camping trips, and were encouraged to prepare healthy meals. We recognize now more than ever that we need to engage girls through sports and healthy living. We know that girls who play sports earn better grades, develop more confidence, and get more involved in their communities.

The GirlSports initiative has been around for decades and utilizes the Legacy Athlete badge program to connect girls to health, leadership, learning, and teamwork through sports. Girls also earn five age-appropriate badges that teach them about fair play, practicing with a purpose, good sportsmanship, cross-training, and coaching.

In collaboration with Nestlé USA, we created the new GirlSports booklet, which illustrates and explains the existing sports programming and/or healthy-living initiatives of each council, and provides councils with a turnkey asset to engage donors and recruit girls, parents, schools, and others in the community. This new 12-page booklet also highlights our current program offerings for girls in sports through the five athletic badge offerings, the Make Your Own badge, and online activities on our website ForGirls.GirlScouts.org.

"Nestlé USA is proud to be Girl Scouts of the USA's inaugural GirlSports sponsor," says Kenneth W. Bentley, vice president of community affairs and educational programs. "At Nestlé USA, we are committed to delivering 'Good Food, Good Life' to communities nationwide. The GirlSports program is one of many ways we support this message. Our partnership will encourage girls to take a holistic approach to health by playing sports, eating healthy, and building self-esteem."
With GirlSports, Girl Scouts continues the mission of inspiring girls to achieve leadership roles in all aspects of society, helping them get there through sports and the leadership skills they learn in the process—no matter what paths they choose.

About Girl Scouts of the USA
Founded in 1912, Girl Scouts of the USA is the preeminent leadership development organization for girls, with 3.2 million girl and adult members worldwide. Girl Scouts is the leading authority on girls' healthy development, and builds girls of courage, confidence, and character, who make the world a better place. The organization serves girls from every corner of the United States and its territories. Girl Scouts of the USA also serves American girls and their classmates attending American or international schools overseas in 90 countries. For more information on how to join, volunteer or reconnect with, or donate to Girl Scouts, call 800-GSUSA-4-U (212-852-8000) or visit www.girlscouts.org.

About Nestlé USA
Named one of "The World's Most Admired Food Companies" in
Fortune magazine for sixteen consecutive years, Nestlé provides quality brands and products that bring flavor to life every day. From nutritious meals with Lean Cuisine® to baking traditions with Nestlé® Toll House®, Nestlé USA makes delicious, convenient, and nutritious food and beverage products that make good living possible. That's what "Nestlé. Good Food, Good Life" is all about. Nestlé USA, with 2012 sales of $10 billion,is part of Nestlé S.A. in Vevey, Switzerland—the world's largest food company with a commitment to nutrition, health, and wellness—with 2012 sales of $98 billion. For product news and information, visit Nestleusa.com or Facebook.com/NestleUSA.

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

An Adrenaline Crush Book Birthday Interview with Laurie Boyle Crompton

Today I am interviewing Laurie Boyle Crompton on the book birthday of her latest novel, Adrenaline Crush. Just look at this cover! 

What attracted you to writing a story about a risk taker?

Everyone can relate to that point in our teens when we start to experience new very-adult-like freedoms and I think we all sort of fall in love with that feeling. At least I know I did. That freedom can sometimes take on a wild impulse of it's own, whether it be driving too fast or, in my main character's case, taking physical risks while mountain climbing and biking. I wanted to write a story about a character who is forced to explore that tension between wanting to feel completely free and having the need to keep herself safe.

Your main character comes from a family of risk takers. Was this modeled after your family? If not, how did you come up with the idea?

My family isn't really known for risk-taking, they just sort of moved around a lot - ha! But my husband drove a Harley when we were first dating and we rode that thing everywhere. It was awesome! And I enjoyed creating this family that is a bit unconventional and rough around the edges yet genuinely loving and supportive in their own way. 

Your main character goes rock climbing and mountain biking along with other things. Have you tried all of these sports or do you have to find ways to research them?

I love mountain biking and did try rock climbing out for research. I always thought I lacked the upper-strength, but it turns out having strong legs can be even more important, and I've certainly got those! Dyna's brother does a lot of skydiving in the book and I considered jumping out of a plane, but quickly decided interviewing a few people and observing from the ground worked just fine. Thank goodness we don't need to personally experience everything in order to write about it truthfully. I'm especially glad I never had to go through an injury like Dyna's!

Do you have any favorite sporty girl read?

I just love Miranda Kenneally's books and am really looking forward to her latest, BREATHE, ANNIE, BREATHE.

What advice would you give to risk takers like your main character?

I don't know how qualified I am to give advice, but I would say it's important to be true to yourself. Pursue your passions and dreams to your fullest. But I'm also a mom so I'd probably add, "remember to take safety precautions!"

Thanks so much for the interview! For more about Laurie, visit her blog.

Friday, September 19, 2014

The Booklist Kerfuffle and Welcome!

Over the last 24 hours we've seen fabulous growth in views of Sporty Girl Books blog thanks to ALA Booklist's recent article Top 10 Sports Books for Youth. The list of "the year’s best sports books [sic] drawn from books reviewed in Booklist from September 15, 2013, to August 2014" didn't include a single female athlete. A quick and certain backlash from librarians, teachers, and readers throughout the blogosphere led Booklist to quickly create a new list Let's Hear It for the Girls. We've been making lists of great books about female athletes for over a year and we're so glad you've found us. Welcome!

We hope you'll explore our archives which include our own lists of great picture books, books for middle grade readers, teens, and books leveled for teachers. We have interviews with current and aspiring authors, as well as interviews with athletes. We are your source for female athletes in the news and even have tips for young athletes. At SPORTY GIRL, we want to give all girls the chance to love, watch, play, read, and write about any sport that interests them. We look forward to the day when the words, "You play like a girl," is the biggest compliment anyone can receive.

We'd love to hear from you. Please contact us if you:
  • have a new Sporty Girl Book coming out in the next year and would like us to review it. (We give first priority to SCBWI PAL published books.)
  • are a young female athlete who would like to be featured as an athlete of the month.
  • coach young women and have some insight on training you'd like to share.
  • are in the children's publishing industry (agent, editor, art director, etc.) and would like to do an interview or contribute a guest post.
  • just want to say, "hello!" 
You can follow us on Facebook, or on Twitter @sportygirlbooks

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Mo'ne Davis: Player of the Month

If you happen to follow the Little League World Series, then you couldn't miss all the hype around Mo'ne Davis and her opening game shutout in the Mid-Atlantic Regional championship. Sporty Girl Books has long been a supporter of girls playing baseball and is happy for the media attention surrounding the IDEA of girls playing all sports equally. Unfortunately, that also means that Mo'ne had to endure reporters from FOX news. Take a look at this clip.

More female friendly sport? 

The amazing thing about all of this attention was this 13 year old eighth grader's grace under pressure. Her focus on the game and on her team. She throws a 70 mile an hour fastball and can hit. She was on the Sports Illustrated! I love how she tells it like it is. "Just throw strikes. That's all you've gotta do. Just throw strikes." She cuts through the grown-up, sports industry, BS. She is clear, mature, and generous in this interview with ESPN. I hope you'll follow the link. (It wouldn't embed here on the blog.)

There's been a social media explosion around her performance. It's great to see sports celebs and other supporting her. I hope that she's able to navigate the hype and social media support without having to deal with the ever-present negativity, racism, and misogyny.

Congrat, Mo'ne!

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Crossing the Ice with Jennifer Comeaux

I'm so happy to welcome Jennifer Comeaux to the blog today. Jennifer is author of several ice skating themed sporty girl books, the most recent: Crossing the Ice. It's just out this month!

 The blurb:

Falling hard never felt so good.

Pair skaters Courtney and Mark have one shot left at their Olympic dream. They vow not to let anything get in their way, especially not Josh and Stephanie, the wealthy and talented brother and sister team.
The heart doesn’t always listen to reason, though…

The more time Courtney spends with sweet, shy Josh, the harder she falls for him. But they are on opposite sides of the competition, and their futures are headed in opposite directions. Will their friendship blossom into more or are their paths too different to cross?
Sounds amazing, right? Jennifer took some time out of her busy schedule to answer some questions!
Thanks for joining me on the blog today, Jennifer!  I’m so excited to have a chance to showcase you and Crossing the Ice to our readers.

KCA: Crossing the Ice isn’t your first book about figure skating. What got you interested in figure skating? Are you a skater yourself?

JC: I’ve actually only stepped on the ice once in my life and I was terrified! I always watched skating on TV when I was a little girl, and I was always fascinated by it. When I got older, I decided to attend the national championships one year to see what a competition would be like in person, and I became an even bigger fan of the sport. It was such an incredible experience to watch the event live! After that I started travelling to multiple competitions every year.

KCA: How long have you been writing?

JC: I used to write a lot when I was a kid, but then I went many years without doing any fiction writing. It wasn’t until about five years ago that I started writing stories again.

KCA: What made you start to write seriously?

JC: I had an idea for a romance between a skater and her coach, and my friend insisted that I write it so she could read it. I was very rusty since I hadn’t written fiction in so many years, but I quickly remembered how much I loved it! The story was just supposed to be for family and friends to read, but then I decided I wanted to pursue my childhood dream of having a book published, so I turned that story into my first book Life on the Edge.

KCA: What genres do you write? Do all your books feature Sporty Girls?

JC: I write New Adult romance, and all my books do feature Sporty Girls! The heroines in my books are all female figure skaters chasing their Olympic dreams.

KCA: Can you tell us anything about your current work-in-progress?

JC: I’m currently working on some bonus scenes from Crossing the Ice and also a possible novella sequel to the book. Stay tuned for details!

KCA: Where do you find your inspiration?

JC: I get inspired by watching the beautiful performances of skaters and also from my travels to competitions. There’s so much real-life drama in skating to inspire stories!
KCA: Are you a full-time writer? What is your non-writing life like?

JC: My full-time job is very different from writing. I’m the Corporate Tax Manager for a large company. I love being able to write at night and on weekends as a creative outlet.

KCA: What is the biggest challenge you find with your writing?

JC: The biggest challenge I face is being a slow writer. Words don’t come to me easily, and I obsessively self-edit as I write, so it takes me about eight months to write a full-length novel. I envy those writers who can spit out a first draft in a month!

KCA: What are your favorite books or movies?

JC: My favorite book of all time is To Kill a Mockingbird. Some of my favorite recent books are Flat-Out Love, Lola and the Boy Next Door, and Fangirl. I have lots of favorite movies, including The Perks of Being a Wallflower, The Breakfast Club, Beauty and the Beast, and Center Stage.

KCA: Do you have a favorite “guilty pleasure” you can share?

JC: My favorite guilty pleasure is watching Catfish: The TV Show. That show is so crazy!

KCA: If people would like to get to know you better, do you tweet?  Blog?

JC: I do both! I love talking to readers, and you can find me on Twitter at @LadyWave4. My blog is jennifercomeaux.blogspot.com. I’m also on Facebook at Jennifer Comeaux Author.
Thanks to Jennifer for being here today and good luck with the new book!