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.

Wednesday, December 7, 2016

Three Sporty Girl Books on the Connecticut Nutmeg Lists

I'm so excited to see that all three 2017 Connecticut Nutmeg Award Lists have sporty girl books. We have spoken about Roller Girl (Immediate List)  on this blog before, so today I'm going to introduce you to Queen of the Diamond (Elementary List) and A Time to Dance (Teen List). Both books are about girls that never let anyone stop them from following their dreams.

Queen of the Diamond is the true story of Lizzie Murphy.

Here's the blurb from IndieBound:
Lizzie Murphy was good at baseball. In fact, she was better than most of the boys. But she was born in 1900, and back then baseball was not a game for girls. Lizzie practiced with her brother anyway, and then she talked her way onto the local boys' team, first as a batboy, then as a player. Everyone was impressed by her hard catches and fast pitches. By the time she turned fifteen, she was playing for two different amateur boys' teams. When she turned eighteen, Lizzie did something else that women weren't supposed to do: she signed up with a professional baseball team, determined to earn her living playing the game.

Want to learn more about Lizzie Murphy? Here are some great articles about her baseball experience. 

Science of Baseball: Lizzie Murphy
Today I Found Out

I read A Time to Dance this summer and fell in love with this book.

Here's the blurb from IndieBound:
Veda, a classical dance prodigy in India, lives and breathes dance so when an accident leaves her a below-knee amputee, her dreams are shattered. For a girl who's grown used to receiving applause for her dance prowess and flexibility, adjusting to a prosthetic leg is painful and humbling. But Veda refuses to let her disability rob her of her dreams, and she starts all over again, taking beginner classes with the youngest dancers. Then Veda meets Govinda, a young man who approaches dance as a spiritual pursuit. As their relationship deepens, Veda reconnects with the world around her, and begins to discover who she is and what dance truly means to her.

Good luck to all three sporty girl books. If you are a kid in Connecticut, make sure to read your Nutmeg list so you can vote for your favorite in April!

Wednesday, November 23, 2016

RELENTLESS SPIRIT, Golden Goggles, Missy Franklin, and a New Swimsuit

Seems like we just welcomed the autumn equinox and already the holiday shopping season is officially upon us. Do you have any particular shopping habits? I have a tendency to get sidetracked while doing research and come across one link that leads to another and then I land on a website and buy something for myself OR I have been known to shop with this method: buy something for a friend or family member and then buy one for me. Which leads to my purchase of a Missy Franklin Signature Speedo swimsuit for myself. How did I get to this online purchase? Well, I’ll go backward to Tuesday morning and share my chain of thoughts/actions:

* Need to write an entry for Sporty Girl Books blog.

* Hmmm, are there any female sporting news or events happening around this time of the year? It's a little early for recommending holiday book picks, isn't it?

* Scanning my Twitter feed I see that Monday night, the Golden Goggle Awards were presented by the USA Swimming Foundation to honor outstanding U.S. swimmers and their achievements from this past year. Simone Manuel won Female Race of the Year – watching that "live" this past summer was incredible and I knew the historical victory would inspire so many girls who see themselves in Simone.

* Who were the other women winners? They were all deserving honorees: Elizabeth Beisel (Team Leadership), Lilly King (Breakout Swimmer of the Year) and Katie Ladecky (Female Swimmer of the Year).

* I recently reviewed a book by Missy Franklin and recall she won a few Golden Goggle honors. A quick reference check reveals she was awarded Female Athlete of the Year (2011, 2012) and Breakout Performer of the Year (2010).

 * I pause, get a coffee refill, and peruse my email and whaddya know, there’s a notice from Booklist Online so I check to see if my latest review has been published. Yep! The November 15, 2016 issue of Booklist has my review of RELENTLESS SPIRIT: THEUNCONVENTIONAL RAISING OF A CHAMPION by Missy Franklin and her parents, DA and Dick Franklin. This up-beat memoir by Missy along with her parents is inspirational and a thoughtful reflection on how - together as a family - they achieved a healthy balance in life and sports. It may be subtitled unconventional but it's a model that worked successfully for their family.
To read the Booklist review: www.booklistonline.com/

* I’m curious if Missy went to the Golden Goggles and what she’s up to so I check her Twitter feed.

* Interesting! SpeedoUSA has launched the “Missy Franklin Signature Series” of swimwear. So naturally, I’ve got to check ‘em out!

And, that’s how it happens . . . from deciding on a topic to writing a blog entry to buying a new swimsuit or the other way around. RELENTLESS SPIRIT is scheduled for release in early December – keep an eye out for it! And I guess it's not too early to share this as an ideal gift to give to a sporty girl or yourself - a book by a delightful, grounded role model raised by two extraordinary parents!

Tuesday, November 1, 2016

New Sporty Girl Books Blogger Wanted

Sporty Girl Books is looking for a new contributor! Our goal at SPORTY GIRL BOOKS is 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.

If you are a writer with an interest in athletics and children's books, we'd love for you to apply. Send an email to Sporty Girl Books founder Stacy Mozer that discusses why you'd like to blog for Sporty Girl Books and let us know why you are qualified. Paste in a sample Sporty Girl Books blog post into your email: a book review, an industry/author interview, or an athlete interview. Stay positive. We'll be choosing a new blogger by the end of the year and would love your submission!

Wednesday, October 26, 2016

Ice-Skating Lessons: Dream Big, Get Back Up When You Fall, Celebrate Life

By Brenda Barrera

Flipping through TV channels this past weekend I caught some of the Progressive Skate America, a good preview of the 2017 U.S. Nationals coming up on January 14-22 in Kansas City. Then yesterday, I came across this video interview with Olympic gold medalist and beloved figure skating commentator, Scott Hamilton, who is now battling his third brain tumor.  As a longtime fan, my heart sank.  His courage and matter-of-fact demeanor are not surprising to anyone who has followed his career.

In the interview, he references fellow Olympic gold medalist Kristi Yamaguchi, and they show a clip from the 1991 U. S. Figure Skating Championships where she took a hard fall at the beginning of her program and immediately got up, continued her routine, and finished with a joyful smile. Hamilton noted the life lesson which he shares with beginner ice-skaters: you will fall and make mistakes, but the more times you get up, the stronger you will be for each future obstacle.

Since retiring from the sport, Yamaguchi has added children’s book writer to her impressive resume, beginning with her delightful picture book, DREAM BIG LITTLE PIG about Poppy the Pig who discovers not every activity (ballet, singing) is going to be her calling yet she follows her bliss and pursues ice-skating, which leads to mastering jumps and spins. She attracts a huge fan club and even makes the cover of the “New Pork Times.”

Life obstacles may sideline us, and we may stumble while attempting to twirl through unforeseen circumstances, but as Hamilton shares, it’s how many times you get up that makes you stronger. He chooses to celebrate life. Yamaguchi’s Poppy reminds us to dream big, never to give up, listen to your personal fans (family and friends who believe in you) and keep pursuing your passions.

Monday, October 17, 2016

Beautiful by Stacy McAnulty

I've been lucky to be able to know prolific author Stacy McAnulty. She's the author of many books for children, but this is the book that has my heart. This is the book, and the reminder, that picture books are for ALL ages. This book was for me. This book was for my 11-year-old daughter on her birthday. We both cried when I read it to her. I make the world beautiful. My daughter makes the world beautiful. Each of you, readers, make the world beautiful.
I'm so grateful for Stacy and her powerful book. Below I've included excerpts from her newsletter. I hope you'll get your hands on BEAUTIFUL and read it to all the females, old and young, in your life.

 breaks barriers by showing girls free to be themselves: splashing in mud, conducting science experiments, and shooting baskets. This book will encourage all girls to embrace who they are and realize their endless potential."

Beautiful: Simple Yet Complicated

Beautiful (written by me and illustrated by Joanne Lew-Vriethoff) is a book of few words. But the topic of beauty and how it impacts girls is incredibly complicated. My editor Lisa wrote me a four-page letter while we were revising this book, and I sent her back the polished manuscript and an essay. I believe it's the first time she'd ever received an essay with a picture book manuscript.

I'd love to share with you some of the things Lisa and I learned while creating this book. (Don't worry. It's not the full essay.)

We compliment little girls on their looks and not other strengths. I've noticed that I do this often. Meeting a young girl, I might say, "You're so cute," or "I love your hair." ... I need to stop making appearances the first part of the conversation. Compliments are great, but I now try to look deeper.

The mirror is different for everyone. Women often use the mirror to study flaws: wrinkles, gray hairs, bags under the eyes... Young children can consider a mirror a toy and enjoy making goofy faces or trying to outwit their reflection. Is there a way to keep young girls from seeing the mirror as a tool for self-criticism?

My definition of beauty. My editor asked me to create a definition for this book. What did I want to convey? After reading countless articles, blog posts, and research, this is my definition of what it means to be BEAUTIFUL.
True beauty is a confidence found in what you do and how you feel. When a girl is doing something kind or challenging or fun, her inner beauty overwhelms her exterior, no matter what she wears or how her hair looks. When a girl feels empowered or strong or smart, the same thing happens. 

Learn more about BEAUTIFUL and Stacy McAnulty here

Friday, October 14, 2016

Book Review: Level the Playing Field

I am always looking for interesting nonfiction for my third grade classroom so I was very excited to see this new book for kids about the past, present, and future of women's pro sports.

Here's the blurb from IndieBound:

The experience of being a professional athlete is very different for men and women. While men's pro sports command throngs of fans, media attention, and money, many of the world's top professional female athletes aren t valued or recognized equally for their talent even though female athletes prove time and time again that they have all the skill, drama, and rivalries of their male counterparts. 
Level the Playing Field examines the root of these issues by taking readers through the history of women's pro sports, exploring how far we have come in a relatively short time and exposing what ground is left to gain. The book provides first-person insight through exciting interviews with professional female athletes, including Canadian hockey player Cassie Campbell, American MMA fighter Miesha Tate, and WNBA star Elena Delle Donne. Along the way, author and sports journalist Kristina Rutherford covers important topics like opportunity, female role models, and stereotypes. Drawing on examples from a wide range of sports, and complete with sidebars, photographs, sources, and an index, this is an informative and authoritative book that makes an important contribution to the movement for women's acceptance in professional sport. 

I enjoyed many things about this book. It had a clear and concise way of explaining the history and current experience of women in sports. The layout was easy to follow and there was a good mix of sports (even though I would have loved to see more baseball). Throughout the book were interviews with sports stars, which give a first hand look at the experience. Last, I liked that even when discussing the difficulties and inequities, the book still has a very positive outlook and makes sure to detail all the strides that have been made. Overall, I think this book is a perfect addition to any classroom or school library.

Wednesday, September 28, 2016

My Banned Books Week Pick: ATHLETIC SHORTS by Chris Crutcher

By Brenda Barrera

September 25 through October 1, 2016 marks Banned Books Week, a celebration of the freedom to read and an opportunity to create awareness about the issues of book censorship and the importance of our first amendment. Yep, it’s 2016, and it's hard to believe but there are still challenges to have books removed from libraries and schools. Here’s a statistic from the American Library Association: more than 11,300 books have been challenged since 1982 when Banned Books Week was launched.

It still boggles my mind when I see the long list of award-winning titles from classics to contemporary bestsellers on lists of Banned Books. When I share these lists with my bibliophile friends they are typically aghast. I wondered if there were any sports-related titles and noticed on the “100 most frequently challenged books: 1990-1999” down at #63 was a young adult (YA) title: ATHLETIC SHORTS by Chris Crutcher.

Crutcher’s body of work is outstanding and typically involves male athletes and sports, but the themes are universal and relevant to sporty girls, too. I downloaded a copy of ATHLETIC SHORTS and re-read a story featuring a female athlete, “The Other Pin.” The main characters are from Crutcher’s book, THE CRAZY HORSE ELECTRIC GAME. In this short story, Petey Shropshrire is a high school wrestler who is goaded by a friend into agreeing to wrestle an opponent no one else wants to take on, Chris Byers. Why? We learn a few pages into the story that Chris is not a typical competitor. Chris is a girl. She developed an interest in wrestling because her older brothers were state champions. In fact, she learned takedowns before she was in kindergarten and by middle school was recruited to join the boy's team. Petey and Chris discover something else they  have in common: both have faced ridicule for being the one to wrestle a girl and a girl who  has faced ridicule for being a wrestler and not afraid to take on a boy. I'm not sure if I agree with the ending and their match, but it is an interesting story.

While “The Other Pin” may not be the story that provokes challenges in this six-story collection, here’s something to think about: if ATHLETIC SHORTS were to be removed from a library book shelf or recommended reading list, how many girls who are wrestlers or who are interested in wrestling and want to read about someone like themselves, would be deprived of this opportunity? Something to reflect upon during Banned Books Week, as when we celebrate free expression and the freedom to read.

Additional Information:
ALA Banned Books Week (www.ala.org/bbooks/bannedbooksweek)