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, July 30, 2013

Girls in Sports News: July Round Up

We have been using our twitter account @sportygirlbooks to publicize current news about girls in sports. Here are some of our favorite articles that you might have missed:

July 1
I think would be into this video of an awesome young athlete:

I am a Native Youth Olympian | INDIE ALASKA

July 15

July 16

July 18

Mia Hamm | MAKERS

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Meet Taryn Albright -- Writer, Editor, and Sporty Girl

Taryn and Kris at the NESCBWI13 conference May 2013
Today at Sporty Girl Books, I’m proud to introduce you to my friend Taryn Albright. You might know her as an agented author. Or you might recognize her as the talented freelance editor known as The Girl with the Green Pen. You might recognize her from twitter or her popular blogs.

I’d like to focus on Taryn as a Sporty Girl. Not only is she a talented writer and editor, she is also a collegiate swimmer.

KA: Welcome to the blog today, Taryn! Thanks for being here! Because we like to talk sports before anything else, can you tell us a bit about your swimming career?

TA: Well, I started swimming competitively when I was six, and by age ten, I was ranked in the top five nationally. I remained at the top of the rankings until age 15, at which point I had an ankle injury that ultimately led to me getting burnt out. Though I had many opportunities to swim D1 collegiately, I decided that I would rather not sell my soul to the pool, and ended up at a smaller liberal arts school where I was able to finish at the top at nationals my freshman and
sophomore years.

KA: Wow--that's amazing! It must have been a tough decision for you when you decided to stop swimming competitively. How and why did you make that decision?

TA: As my junior year progressed, I was falling more and more in love with publishing. While that love was increasing, my enjoyment for swimming was going the other way. We’d gotten a new coach, and the vibe of the team had become so negative that I dreaded practice every day. It was an extremely difficult decision because of what swimming had meant to me, how much it had shaped me, but not because of what it was at that point. Moving on was the right decision, even if it was like cutting off my own arm.

KA: It's amazing how some hard decisions really are the best ones in the end. I'm glad the publishing world has benefitted from your decision to leave swimming! Some of your writing has an athletic focus—are your MCs always athletes?

TA: No way. Coming from a background at such a high level, I don’t really see a middle ground. Either you are a swimmer or you are a person. Sometimes it works for my MC to be a swimmer (/runner/gymnast/whatever), but usually I can tell a better story if they are human first and foremost.

Actually, when I read books where the MC is an athlete, I don’t necessarily consider it a sports book (or worse and more common, it just feels inauthentic). There’s a certain shift in your thoughts when you are at an elite level—at that level where you cease being human and start being defined by your sport. That’s kind of why I quit a few months ago. I liked Taryn the person better than Taryn the swimmer.

HOWEVER, I am completely aware that this intensity is not normal for the majority of teens who do sports. Still, if you create an athlete and intend for them to be at a national level, BE SURE to check authenticity with someone at your athlete’s intended level. Just because you swim recreationally and know all four strokes doesn’t mean you know what practices/meets/meals are like for a D1-bound swimmer. (Don’t get me started on Pretty Little Liars’ stupid stupid stupid swimming details.)

KA: Excellent advice to anyone writing about elite sports in their books. Research. Research. Research. How did you decide to become a freelance editor? How does it impact your own writing?

TA: Once I realized publishing was actually a field, I always wanted to work in it. Originally I wanted to be an agent, and it was through my internship with Andrea Brown Lit that I learned I had an editorial eye. Since then, I’ve worked with various other agencies and a small press, but it’s truly freelancing that I love. I can meet authors where they are rather than trying to pull them to an arbitrary standard. Freelance editors won’t guarantee you a book deal or an agent, but I have yet to have a client who has said their money/time was wasted.  We’re always learning :)

Plus it’s super cool to see my amazing clients get book deals.

Editing has hugely impacted my own writing. First of all, I just enjoy editing more, so I tend to budget my time to reflect that. (Read: I don’t write enough anymore.) Second, I’m much more aware of my strengths and weaknesses. I don’t necessarily know how to fix them, but the awareness is definitely there. And lastly, I have a much greater understanding that the first draft will be crap and that anything can be revised so long as it exists. That last impact is the reason I write so quickly—because editing has taught me that the first draft is the most important part.

KA: I absolutely love Taryn's passion for editing and her enthusiasm for her clients work. Check out her website if you are looking for an incredible editor. Taryn, do you have a current project you can share?

TA: Not a sporty one :) I just wrote an NA romance to get it out of my head, but I’m not sure it’s worth pursuing. We’re about to go out with a YA mystery.

KA: Lastly, what's your favorite SportyGirl Book?

TA: I love In Lane Three, Alex Archer. I found it when I was very young, and it’s the only sports fiction I’ve read that actually feels authentic.

Thanks to Taryn for sharing her passion, her sport, and her writing advice! Go visit her website (http://www.thegirlwiththegreenpen.com/), and follow her on Twitter! @TarynAlbright  

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Picture Book List for Young Sporty Girls or the Young-At-Heart!

You may have noticed that Sporty Girl Books blog includes tabs with booklists for middle grade and young adult readers. However, if you’ve seen some of the sportiest girls out there, you know that they start when they are knee-high to a grasshopper and can hardly fit their sports equipment.

(When my kiddos were this big we called soccer, magnet ball and had fun counting how many times a player took the ball from someone on their own team.)

With the right safety and inspiration, some young players grow into healthy young women with a life-long love of sport, while others become experienced and technically savvy athletes. Either way, below is a list of picture books that will inspire sports and history lovers young and old, male and female.

About this list:

  • This list is not at all exhaustive. While I was pleased to find picture books about African-American athletes along side Caucasian athletes, it is clear that there are still underrepresented groups including Latinas, Asian-Americans, "out" gay athletes, athletes who identify as Muslim or Jewish and many others. I would love to hear other suggestions from our readers in the comments! 
  • The books are listed by author’s last name. The MLA citations and summaries are from WorldCat.org
  • Many of the books that I’ve listed were chosen because they have won a variety of awards or been on well-known lists. Some have shown up on the relatively new (2002) ALA Amelia Bloomer Book list that showcases feminist books for young readers. Read more here. http://www.ala.org/awardsgrants/amelia-bloomer-book-list
  • Except Mia Hamm's book, these are picture book biographies.
  • Yes, there are TWO books about Alice Coachman. Give them a look and tell us what you think!

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Adler, David A, and Terry Widener. America's Champion Swimmer: Gertrude Ederle. San Diego: Harcourt, 2000. Print.
Describes the life and accomplishments of Gertrude Ederle, the first woman to swim the English Channel and a figure in the early women's rights movement.

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Corey, Shana, and Ed Fotheringham. Mermaid Queen: The Spectacular True Story of Annette Kellerman, Who Swam Her Way to Fame, Fortune, & Swimsuit History! New York: Scholastic Press, 2009. Print.
As a child growing up in Australia, Annette Kellerman was a frail ugly duckling who dreamed of becoming a graceful ballerina. With courage and determination, she confronted a crippling illness to become an internationally known record-setting athlete who revolutionized the sport of swimming for women, a movie star who invented water ballet, and a fashion revolutionary who modernized the swimsuit.

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Corey, Shana, Rebecca Gibbon, and Marijka Kostiw. Players in Pigtails. New York: Scholastic Press, 2003. Print.
Katie Casey, a fictional character, helps start the All-American Girls Professional Baseball League, which gave women the opportunity to play professional baseball while America was involved in World War II.

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Deans, Karen, and Elbrite Brown. Playing to Win: The Story of Althea Gibson. New York: Holiday House, 2007. Print.
Growing up in Harlem, Althea Gibson was heading down the wrong path until she found her calling. She went on to become the first African American women to be ranked as the number one woman tennis player in the world.

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Hamm, Mia, and Carol Thompson. Winners Never Quit! New York: HaperCollns, 2004. Print.
Shows that being a team player is more important than winning or losing a game.

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Hopkinson, Deborah, and Terry Widener. Girl Wonder: A Baseball Story in Nine Innings. New York: Atheneum Books for Young Readers, 2003. Print.
In the early 1900s, Alta Weiss, a young woman who knows from an early age that she loves baseball, finds a way to show that she can play, even though she is a girl.

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Krull, Kathleen, and David Diaz. Wilma Unlimited: How Wilma Rudolph Became the World's Fastest Woman. San Diego: Harcourt Brace, 1996. Print.
A biography of the African-American woman who overcame crippling polio as a child to become the first woman to win three gold medals in track in a single Olympics.

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Lang, Heather, and Floyd Cooper. Queen of the Track: Alice Coachman, Olympic High-Jump Champion. Honesdale, Pa: Boyds Mills Press, 2012. Print.
Tells the story of Alice Coachman, an athlete from rural Georgia who made history as the first African-American woman to win an Olympic gold medal in 1948.

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Macy, Sue, and Matt Collins. Basketball Belles: How Two Teams and One Scrappy Player Put Women's Hoops on the Map. New York: Holiday House, 2011. Print.
Raised on a cattle ranch, Agnes Morley was sent to Stanford University to learn to be a lady. Yet in no time she exchanged her breeches and spurs for bloomers and a basketball; and in April 1896 she made history. In a heart-pounding game against the University of California at Berkeley, Agnes led her team to victory in the first-ever intercollegiate women's basketball game, earning national attention and putting women's basketball on the map.

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Malaspina, Ann, and Eric Velasquez. Touch the Sky: Alice Coachman, Olympic High Jumper. Chicago, Ill: Albert Whitman, 2012. Print.
 A biography of the first black woman to win an Olympic gold medal, from her childhood in segregated Albany, Georgia, in the 1930s, through her recognition at the 1996 Olympics as one of the hundred best athletes in Olympic history. Includes bibliographical references.

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Rosenstock, Barbara, and Scott Dawson. Fearless: The Story of Racing Legend Louise Smith. New York: Dutton Children's Books, 2010. Print.
Introduces the life of stock car racer Louise Smith, from her first ride behind the wheel of her father's Ford to her thrilling stock car races across the country during the 1950s.

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Vernick, Audrey. She Loved Baseball: The Effa Manley Story. New York: HarperCollins, 2010. Print.
Effa always loved baseball. As a young woman, she would go to Yankee Stadium just to see Babe Ruth's mighty swing. But she never dreamed she would someday own a baseball team. Or be the first and only woman ever inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame. From her childhood in Philadelphia to her groundbreaking role as business manager and owner of the Newark Eagles, Effa Manley always fought for what was right. And she always swung for the fences.

Tuesday, July 9, 2013

Athlete of the Month: Maddy Paige

Each month we are going to feature a real athlete on the blog. This month I have chosen Maddy Paige.

Maddy is a 12 year old football player from Georgia. Last year she was an important part of the team and had four sacks. She had the support of her team and even her principal came to her games to show his support. But next year, because of a new rule at the school, she will not be allowed to play.

Maddy's mom, Cassy Blythe, decided to take her story to the internet. She started a facebook page called, Let Her Play. The page already has over 47,000 likes. The description of the page reads, 

This page was started because my daughter was told she could no longer play football simply because she is a girl. We stand behind all female athletes who are told no. Join our fight for equality. Our daughters should not have limitations. Let them soar!

The page has become a place for girls who play all sports to post their pictures and their stories. Maddy and Cassy leave posts to let their supporters know what's happening in their fight and how they are feeling.

Yesterday Cassy posted:

We are approaching the deadline where I will have to make a decision on where Maddy will attend school next year. I gave myself until July 20th to make a final decision. That date is approaching fast.

Here are the questions I want answered. Why is it acceptable for the male wrestlers at Strong Rock Christian School to be allowed to compete 1 on 1 against female wrestlers from other schools, but the school refuses to allow females to from their own school to wrestle because it's a "male" sport? Why would you allow your varsity football team to play against a team that has a female player? Using your theory of what's good enough for your athletes to compete against, why are the females at SRCS not allowed? If keeping it a purely male sport means as much as the administration says it does, shouldn't the school forfeit all matches or games where females are allowed to compete? The current policy is hypocritical. Perhaps the administration or board of directors can answer that for us.

Maddy has not given up hope of playing this fall. She started her work-out routine last week and asked that we start kicking lessons soon. I'm so proud of my oldest for standing up for herself. The easy route would have been for her to hear she isn't welcome any longer and walk away like the dainty little female she is (I just had to throw a bit of sarcasm in there). Instead, she wanted to fight for all athletes. No matter where Maddy continues her education she wants to continue to support all female athletes.

I will keep everyone updated as much as I can. Thank you all for your continued support! -Cassy

We hope that the school will recognize Maddy's right to play before the school year begins. You can show your support for Maddy by liking her facebook page and by following her twitter feed @LetHerPlay.

Tuesday, July 2, 2013

Summer Round Up: Beach Style

For our first round up I thought it would be fun to focus on summer and the wonderful pleasure of hitting the beach, so I asked my co-founders two questions on the subject. We'd love to hear your own answers in the comments.

1. You head to the beach, what do you do first? Jump in the waves or sun in the sand?I'm not really one for either! I LOVE to go to the beach and then hit the arcade or the shops that usually surround the beach. Shopping! If I could indulge in a carefree afternoon, though, I would totally choose sitting in my beach chair and curling up with a good read. A dog-eared favorite science fiction or fantasy, like Ender's Game or the Last Unicorn would be my first choice! A go-to summer sporty book would be either Catherine Gilbert's DAIRY QUEEN or Liz Fichera's HOOKED.

2. Have you ever tried surfing?
I'm so afraid our readers will think I'm lame...I actually don't know how to swim, so surfing would be terrifying for me. The most I really do is dip my toes in the the edge of the water! But I do love WATCHING people surf...it looks so effortless!
Question back to our readers and other bloggers...Have you tried a land-based summer sport, like, maybe GOLF?

1. You head to the beach, what do you do first? Jump in the waves or sun in the sand?
I'm not given a choice in this one. I jump in the waves splashing around after my two kids.

2. Have you ever tried surfing? 
No, I have never tried surfing. The waves at beaches I got to aren't really the surfing kind. But I do like using my kids boogie boards. :-)

1. You head to the beach, what do you do first? Jump in the waves or sun in the sand?
In my region of Maine, if you want to jump in the surf you have to a) check the tide chart and make sure that there will even be water and b) wear your wet suit. I love swimming but the water is pretty cold here throughout summer. Still there are plenty of kiddos who I see with blue lips skipping happily through the chilly waves. It's sort of a classic, "You just have to get used to it," thing. Once I've gotten my head under the water I'm in for a while. When I dry off, I'm sitting in a beach chair and reading. Right now, I'm totally into the YA, Blood & Starlight but my go to sporty girl book read for the beach is the John Feinstein series. I can't wait for the new Stevie and Susan Carol mystery. In the next one, Susan Carol is a swimming Olympian. Can't wait!

2. Have you ever tried surfing?
Ooo. Yes, I have tried surfing. I took two lessons with my son when we went to the west coast of Puerto Rico. The first day was great. I learned a ton about reading the waves and actually stood up twice. The second day, the ocean was more finicky and unpredictable  (Very windy.) I spent most of my time paddling my board. (Note to other surfer girl newbies: do not wear a top with any plastic embellishments. Ouch!) I'd love to do it again. In fact, I have my eye on a yoga/surf vacation in Costa Rica. First I have to sell a book!

1. You head to the beach, what do you do first? Jump in the waves or sun in the sand?
When I was younger I ran right into the water, but now I'm more cautious, often playing along the surf with my littlest one or reading a book and letting the sun cook me so I'm hot enough to finally dunk myself in the chilly water. This summer I'm looking forward to reading Sarah Dessen's new summer read THE MOON AND MORE. 

2. Have you ever tried surfing?
I have sat on a surf board and even paddled out and enjoyed the lapping on the waves, but I'm never stood up. When we moved to California my husband and I thought we'd hit the beach often and learn to surf, but as we were a good three hours inland, we didn't make it to the beach often. Also, the Pacific is COLD compared to the Atlantic I'm accustomed to, so my time in the water was brief. I did enjoy boogie boarding and road some nice waves that way. Last month I read THE LIST by Melanie Jacobson. Her main character learns to surf (it's one of her 25 required bucket list items before she gets married) and I wished I put more effort into learning how before we moved away. 

We hope you enjoy your summer fun by hitting some waves and reading some great summer books (preferably not at the same time).