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.

Thursday, March 8, 2018

Book Review: A SKATING LIFE by Dorothy Hamill with Deborah Amelon

Before the United States figure skating world had female national champions named Bradie, Ashley, Sasha, Michelle, Tara, Nancy, Kristi, Tonya, Debi, Rosalynn, and Linda . . . there was Dorothy. I found myself thinking about Dorothy Hamill this past month while watching the PyeongChang Winter Olympics. I was 11-years old in 1974 when she won her first U.S. National Championship title which was followed two years later with an Olympic gold medal at the 1976 Winter Olympic Games in Innsbruck, Austria. Like hundreds of young girls, I wanted to have a wedge haircut like hers that would swing around my face when I was gliding across the ice. Unfortunately, since I only skated outside in the cold I had to wear a wool hat and, with my long curly hair, there was no chance of replicating her short and sassy do.

I picked up a copy of her memoir, A SKATING LIFE: MY STORY (published in 2007) and it was a revelation to learn about the challenging relationships (family, competition, work-related, and love life) that she navigated. Hamill opens with a Prologue from 1976 where she is on the podium in Innsbruck and unable to find her Mom in the stands. She did not go to watch her daughter compete. At the hotel afterward, her mother asks how she did and after Dorothy tells her she won her reply is, “That’s nice, Dorothy.” Thus, this sets the stage for a heart wrenching account of a complicated mother/daughter relationship.

Hamill shares the numerous sacrifices her parents made to help her achieve her dreams, the multiple coaches and figure skating professionals she worked with over the years, and the difficulties of juggling a professional skating career while maintaining her personal relationships. The heartbreaking pain of her two divorces are told with raw honesty. But there is a shining light throughout, her daughter Alexandra. Eventually, with time, maturity, and therapy she grows to understand the complicated circumstances of her life and at the end of the book, comes full circle to find peace with her mother.

This book may be a few years old, but it’s relevant and sure to tug at the hearts of figure skating fans and athletes grappling with a complicated parental relationship. This serves as a reminder that the beauty we see in athletic performances (often lasting only a few minutes) can be a culmination of many years filled with hard falls, financial sacrifice, insecurities, stage fright, and painful personal challenges. Dorothy Hamill’s life on and off the ice is a poignant story of an important figure in American sports history whose personal journey of determination and perseverance is one to be admired.  

The 2018 PyeongChang Paralympic Winter Games are coming up from March 9-18 and they don’t have Figure Skating but they do have Alpine Skiing, Biathlon, Cross-Country Skiing, Curling, Sled Hockey and Snowboard.  
For information: www.paralympic.org

Dorothy Hamill founded an adaptive ice-skating program at the Kennedy Krieger Institute in Baltimore, MD, so that children with physical disabilities could enjoy recreational ice skating. For information: http://i-skate.kennedykrieger.org

Tuesday, December 12, 2017

Wild Bird Review

Last year we had the honor to interview Wendell Van Dranan for her book, The Running Dream. You can read the interview here.

This year she released Wild Bird. This, too, is a story of struggle and overcoming, of becoming something you don't know if you can be anymore. This is the story of a lonely new girl who fell into the wrong crowd in 6th grade and started doing drugs. This is the story of her parents forcing her to go to Loa, a wilderness survival camp where if you want a drink you have to find your own water in the desert. If you want to eat your rations, you have to make fire with your bow, if you want to wash yourself, you have to make soap out of the yucca plant, and if you want to change yourself and find strength, you can.

As my daughters and I listened to the audiobook read by Alex McKenna, we felt  Wren truly was a warrior. We couldn't listen to it fast enough.

To me this book is a case of a sporty girl who didn't know she was sporty. She became an avid hiker, a reader of the stars and scat, an expert fire builder, and someone who could not only fight coyotes, but the voices and addictions within herself.

Wren is a rock star. If you're looking for a book to gift, I would recommend both of these!

From the ladies at Sporty Girl Books, we wish you a Merry Christmas, Happy Hanukkah, and a Happy New Year.

See you in 2018!

Thursday, November 2, 2017

Book Review: Martina & Chrissie = Tennis Rivals + Friends Off the Court

A few weeks ago I enjoyed watching “Battle of the Sexes” about the infamous 1973 matchup between tennis greats Billy Jean King and Bobby Riggs. And this past weekend I got a text that my brother Paul (who has been playing competitive tennis since the 1970s) won the USTA 55 + older (8.0) National Championships! Needless to say, I have had tennis on the brain and was excited to read MARTINA & CHRISSIE: THE GREATEST RIVALRY IN THEHISTORY OF SPORTS by Phil Bildner.

This picture book introduces readers to two vastly different tennis players, Martina Navratilova and Chris Evert, who both discovered their sport at a young age and skyrocketed to national champion titles as teenagers. They spent years as adversaries competing against each other 80 times, yet they forged a friendship that has endured to this day. Bildner covers their different backgrounds (United States/Czechoslovakia), playing styles (baseline/serve-and-volley), and personalities (controlled/emotional). Brett Helquist’s artwork is delightful, especially the spreads of iconic matches like the French Open highlighting their dramatic back and forth leads and even Martina getting nailed in the head by a shot from Chrissie at Wimbledon.

I found the tone, however, a bit confusing and wondered who was the intended audience. The pre-introductory page begins, “Hey, guys—yeah, I’m talking to you...” and further along “Guys, Martina OWNED the net” and “But guys, numbers NEVER tell the whole story.” It reads like a continuation of a dispute with someone (e.g., the guys) about why Martina and Chrissie are the greatest rivalry in the history of sports. Thus, notably missing is any content to support the subtitle—what about Borg vs. McEnroe, Williams vs. Williams, or Seles vs. Graff? And what about other sports other than tennis?

Nevertheless, MARTINA & CHRISSIE is a welcome addition to sporty girl biography collection for anyone interested in learning about these tennis icons, and I’m sure it will motivate some readers to pick up a racket and head to their neighborhood tennis courts. The supporting back matter includes a helpful timeline and source list.

Sunday, October 15, 2017

Cover Reveal: Any Way You Slice It by Kristine Carlson Asselin

We are so excited to be able to show off the new cover for Kristine Carlson Asselin's Any Way You Slice It

About the book: Penelope Spaulding just can't catch a break. Between long hours at the family restaurant, homework, and her parents' plans for her future, it's hard to find a spare moment to breathe. But when she laces up her skates and steps on the ice, everything slips away...

Racing around the rink allows her to blow off steam after yet another fight with her dad about going to culinary school. So when Jake Gomes, the bad boy who lives down the street, dares her to join the Rink Rats, the local misfit hockey team, she surprises herself and joins in silent defiance of her father and his expectations.

The more she plays, the easier it is to keep lying, and soon Pen finds it impossible to come clean. She’s sneaking out to practice—and loving every minute of it. It doesn’t take long for her to fall in love with hockey…and Jake’s not half bad either. But she knows it can’t last. As soon as her dad finds out, she’ll be benched. For good.

She’s absolutely not going to tell her parents until she’s sure it will be worth the inevitable fight. Not only is she skipping shifts at Slice Pizza while a foodie reality show is on the horizon, but her lies are starting to take their toll on her game. It’s only a matter of time before everything falls apart.

With the team counting on her and with her relationship with Jake on the line, will she have to sacrifice the thing she wants most for the people she loves? Or can she step up and take her best shot?

And now for the big reveal!

Any Way You Slice It will rerelease in November. If you are in the Littleton, MA area, you can celebrate with the author at Valley Wild Books.  

Can't be there? Celebrate at home with this wonderful pizza dessert recipe:

Penelope’s Dessert Pizza

*1 can(s) crescent rolls
1/4 c butter, cold
1/4 c brown sugar
1/4 c sugar
1/4 tsp cinnamon
1/2 c flour
pinch of salt
1/2 c powdered sugar
1 Tbsp butter, soft
1 1/4 tsp vanilla
1-1 1/2 Tbsp milk

*Penelope would have you know that using a pre-made dough is cheating. But some of us can’t stay up past midnight to pound out the dough like she can. So we happily use pre-made dough.

1.     Preheat oven to 400.
2.     First things first, roll out the crescent rolls into 8 triangles—be sure to use an ungreased cookie sheet. These babies are pre-greased so you don’t need anything else.
3.     Cut in the butter to the mixture of sugar, cinnamon, salt and flour to form crumbles. Use a fork or a pastry blender or your fingers! Be sure the butter is COLD for best results. Try not to eat too much of the crumble, but it will be tempting. Licking fingers is excusable.
4.     Sprinkle the dough with crumbs and throw those bad boys into the oven for 8 to 12 minutes.
5.     After it all cools, cut into smaller triangles and drizzle with glaze.
6.     And now the fun part: EAT and Enjoy!

If you make these, take a picture and post with #AnyWayYouSliceIt and don’t forget to tag @KristineAsselin w/ all your pizza photos. To learn more about Kristine and her books, visit her online.

Monday, October 2, 2017

Sporty Girl New Releases

In January we gave you a list of Sporty Girl Books coming out in 2017 but we were only able to find books from Jan - August. Here are three more to add to your list.

Recently Released

Patina by Jason Reynolds

A newbie to the track team, Patina must learn to rely on her teammates as she tries to outrun her personal demons in this follow-up to the National Book Award finalist Ghost by New York Times bestselling author Jason Reynolds.


Figure skating icon and U.S. National Champion Karen Chen tells the amazing story of her rise to the top, featuring never-before-seen photos and behind-the-scenes details from her journey on and off the ice!


Martha’s mom has banned her from playing soccer, and it’s up to Agatha Parrot to find a way to get her back into the game. Meanwhile, Agatha’s big brother, James, receives an email from an unknown girl, and Agatha intervenes to start a correspondence on his behalf. When she discovers the girl’s love of spelling might hold the secret to helping Martha get permission to play soccer, the emails turn very warm indeed. Several forged emails—and a few spelling tests—later, will Martha get to play in the big game? And what will happen when Agatha’s unknowing correspondent meets the real James? 

Tuesday, May 30, 2017

Upcoming: 45th Anniversary of Title IX

I’m thinking ahead to June 23, which is not only Olympic Day but also the 45th anniversary of the passage of Title IX. This groundbreaking legislation was signed into law as part of the Higher Education Act by then President Nixon. Its impact has been far-reaching and positive for girls in our country by prohibiting discrimination and ensuring fair and equal access and opportunity:

No person in the United States shall, on the basis of sex, be excluded from participation in, be denied the benefits of, or be subjected to discrimination under any educational program or activity receiving Federal financial assistance.

It’s important to note this Civil Rights legislation is not only for sports but all federally funded educational opportunities. A statistic that demonstrates it’s impact on girls sports: before 1972 only one in 27 girls played high school sports and today that number has increased to two in five.  With that said, there’s still work to be done as noted per the video link at the end of this post from Olympic soccer star, Julie Foudy.

While there are several websites and go-to resources, my recommendation for anyone wanted a primer to understand this gender equity issue is to begin with The Women’s Sports Foundation on Title IX (primer, myths and facts). Also, Nancy Hogshead-Maker (attorney, three-time Olympic Gold medalist in swimming) founded the nonprofit organization, ChampionWomen: Advocacy for Girls & Women in Sports, which serves as another resource.

Here are a few books about Title IX. Unfortunately, a quick check of copyright and it’s clear several are outdated, but they offer a historical overview of this landmark legislation.

Encyclopedia of Title IX and Sports by Nicole Mitchell (2007)

Equal Play: Title IX and Social Change by Nancy Hogshead-Makar and Andrew Zimbalist (2007)

Getting in the Game: Title IX and the Women's Sports Revolution by Deborah Brake (2010)

Let Me Play: The Story of Title IX: The Law That Changed the Future of Girls in America by Karen Blumenthal (2005)
Check out: Sporty Girl Books post from September 13, 2016

A Place on the Team: the Triumph and Tragedy of Title IX by Welch Suggs (2005)

Playing for Equity by Diane LeBlanc and Allys Swanson (2016)

Title IX by Linda Jean Carpenter (2004)

 Video:  The next steps for Title IX per Julie Foudy from Positive Coaching Alliance.

Tuesday, May 16, 2017

Book Review: Elly and the Smelly Sneaker

Today I am excited to review a new fractured Cinderella tale, Elly and the Smelly Sneaker.

Here's the blurb:

Elly has everything a girl could desire: bonbons, pretty clothes, maids to put everything in order, and a family that treats her like a princess. Except that, to her, life's a boring, royal pain. All Elly really wants is to be with other kids--especially when they play baseball. She dreams of opening days, double plays, and joining the team. Then, one day, her fairy godfather arrives to make her wish come true. Will Elly FINALLY succeed in trading her glass slippers for a pair of smelly sneakers? 

My review:

I love this book! First, it's nice to see a Cinderella character that isn't being mistreated for a change. Elly's family is kind and caring and wants to give her everything money can buy. But all Elly wants is to be out with the other kids playing baseball. How can you not adore a Cinderella like that? The illustrations in the book are fun and add to the action. This book is perfect for any teacher looking to add a fractured fairy tale to a classroom library. It will also be enjoyed by kids (and adults) of all ages who want to see Cinderella ditch the glass slipper for something more practical and fun.