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 23, 2018

Interview with Out of Left Field author Ellen Klages

After getting a chance to read Out of Left Field, I was very excited to interview the author, Ellen Klages. Ellen Klages is the author of three novels about the Gordon family: The Green Glass Sea, which won the Scott O’Dell and New Mexico Book Awards; White Sands, Red Menace, which won the California and New Mexico Book Award; and Out of Left Field, published in 2018. Previously,  she was a staff writer at the Exploratorium museum, where she coauthored three books of hands-on science experiments for children and their families to do together: The Science Explorer; The Science Explorer Out and About; and The Brain Explorer. She also writes award-winning science fiction and fantasy for adult readers. She lives in a small house in San Francisco full of odd and interesting objects. Visit her website at www.ellenklages.com.

Out of Left Field is part of a larger family saga. Why did you decide to take the series in this
direction?

In the beginning of my first book, The Green Glass Sea, Dewey and Suze are ten years old. By the end of the sequel, White Sands, Red Menace, they're fifteen. They’re young adults. But . . . at the end of the second book, in 1947, their mother, Terry Gordon, is pregnant. That gave me the opportunity to jump ahead a decade, to 1957, and continue the family story with a brand-new focus—a sporty, spunky ten-year-old pitcher named Katy. 


I really loved the girls' baseball focus in Out of Left Field. What made you want to tell this story? Were you a baseball player when you were a kid?

I wasn't. I was definitely an active kid—riding my bike, climbing trees, swimming in the creek—but except for playground activities and summer camp games, I wasn't really interested in organized team sports. I became a baseball fan in my mid-30s, listening to the Giants and the As on the radio.

But when I worked for the Exploratorium museum, I was part of a team creating a website—The Science of Baseball. (http://www.exploratorium.edu/baseball/). I don't have a science background, so I instead I proposed a page about women baseball players. I had stumbled across Toni Stone, and figured there might have been others. I love research, and ended up with a lot more content than I could cram into one web article. I made a folder for my notes, then filed them away until I could figure out what I should do with them next.

Fast forward twenty years, and two novels about the Gordon family. Dewey was into engineering and science, Suze was an artist. I wanted their younger sister to be just as captivated by something completely different. What do most people think is the opposite of science or art? Sports. Oooh—what if Katy played baseball? I dug out my old files, and got fascinated all over again by the forgotten history of these amazing women.


In the book you have Katy research famous female baseball players. How did you decide which players to include?

That was one of the trickiest parts of writing this book. I could only use information that would have been available to a bright ten-year-old in 1957.

Nowadays, lot of people know about the AAGPBL, because of the movie, A League of Their Own,but it didn't come out until 1992. And most of the Exploratorium research I'd done on women baseball players was based on books that were also published in the 1980s and '90s. I’d relied on the references that writers Barbara Gregorich, Debra Shattuck, Susan Johnson, and Gai Berlage and others included. They had done years of research, digging through archives and primary sources.

The trouble was that, back in 1957, there weren’t anybooks about women in baseball, and it wouldn't have been realistic for a fifth grader to be able to have access to those primary sources or archives. How was I going to give Katy even an inkling that her heroes wereout there?

I spent four long afternoons in the downtown San Francisco library, looking through the Readers Guide to Periodical Literature, volume by volume, hoping to find a reference that Katy coulddiscover. I almost whooped out loud when I found the 1931 article about Jackie Mitchell. 

With the Encyclopedia of Women and Baseball open in front of me, I started making lists of women that I could include in Out of Left Field. Women have been playing professional baseball for more than 140 years, and I wanted the book to show as wide a range as possible. 

Eventually I chose a dozen players, from the 1890s through the mid-1950s. I picked some who were contemporary enough that Katy would have heard of them, like Babe Didrikson, and others because they gave me the opportunity to connect different eras -- the AAGPBL, the Bloomer Girls, the Negro Leagues. I was delighted when I found out that one of the players in the AAGPBL came from the same hometown as Alta Weiss. And that Toni Stone lived only a mile or two from Katy's house.

In a lot of ways, Katy's journey is as much about research as it is about playing baseball. She’s solving a mystery, tracking down clues and following leads and her own curiosity, getting excited when she uncovers a hidden piece of history.

As for my own research? That didn’t have the same constraints as Katy’s, and I’d found so much more I wanted to share. In the back of the book are twelve detailed player biographies, my non-fictional gift to all the curious girls of 2018.


Tell us about your journey. How did you get your first book published?

My journey is not at all typical. I didn't start writing professionally until I was in my mid-40s. I sold my first story, “Time Gypsy,” and it was nominated for several awards in the science fiction and fantasy field. I followed that with a handful of other short stories, some of which I read aloud at conventions and conferences.

After one of those readings, a tall, red-haired woman came up to me and told me she enjoyed my work. “You write children's stories,” she said. I got a little indignant. “I do not,” I replied. “I write stories with children in them.” She shrugged, and told me that she was the editor of a line of children's books, and that if I ever wrote a novel, I should get in touch. She gave me her card. Her name was Sharyn November, and she worked for Viking, in New York.

I went back home, and thought, “An editor in New York just asked me for a book. I shouldn't ignore that.” So I lay awake, trying to think of a topic for a children's book: Puppies? Little cottage in the woods? Elves? None of those interested me in the least. Then late one night, I thought of a short story I'd written, “The Green Glass Sea.” It was about two girls having a picnic with their family on the atomic test site at Trinity, New Mexico.

I sent the story to Sharyn.

To my great surprise, she wrote back. “That would be—different,” she said. “Let me see 90 pages and an outline, and we'll talk.”

It took me more than a year to write those 90 pages, and to figure out what the novel would be about. Since I already had a career as a science fiction short story writer, I'd planned to have the book be SF, and the outline ended in July of 1947, in Roswell, New Mexico, with the landing of an alien spacecraft.

Sharyn liked the 90 pages, and most of the outline, but not the ending. She asked me to reconsider. Hmmm. The book hadbecome much more historical fiction than SF. I agreed.

The result was my first novel, The Green Glass Sea, which was published in 2006. In January of 2007, I answered my phone and was stunned to find out that my book had won the Scott O'Dell Award, given to the best historical fiction for children each year. 

As I said, my journey is not at all typical.


Do you have any advice for someone writing a sporty girl book?

Write with the truest voice that you can. Write for your “inner sporty girl,” the book you would have lovedto read when you were a kid, but which didn't exist yet. Somewhere in the world there is a young girl just waiting for thatbook to inspire her to be the hero of her own story.

If you know a sporty girl, talk to her. Find out what sheloves about playing.

Sporty girls are active. They are brave and strong. They have skills and determination and focus. They think a couple of steps ahead. They don't give up easily. And no two are alike.


Is there anything else about you or your books you would like to tell us?

I hope you enjoy Out of Left Field, and that Katy's journey inspires you to follow your own dreams.

If you want to read more about the Gordon family, you'll find their stories in my first two books, The Green Glass Seaand White Sands, Red Menace.

As I mentioned, I also write science fiction and fantasy for adults. I have two collections of stories, Portable Childhoods and Wicked Wonders. Many of those stories feature sporty girl characters.






Saturday, July 28, 2018

#WomeninBaseballWeek New Book and the Complete List

Each day this week we shared books about girls and women who play baseball. On this final day we are focusing on books of the future. Unfortunately we were only able to find one announcement of an upcoming book and it's not until 2020! Hopefully you can help us out and add to our list.

Spring 2020

Karen Boss at Charlesbridge has acquired world rights to Balletball by Erin Dionne (l.), illustrated by Gillian Flint. The picture book features a reluctant baseball player who brings her love of ballet to the outfield and, with twirls and pliĆ©s, ends up leading her team to victory. 



Here are all the books we shared this week, plus a few more:




Picture Book Nonfiction
Corey, Shana Players in Pigtails
Hopkinson, Deborah  Girl Wonder: A Baseball Story in Nine Innings

Hubbard, Crystal Catching the Moon
Mackall, Dandi Daley  A Girl Named Dan
Vernick, Audrey She Loved Baseball
Vernick, Audrey The Kid from Diamond Street

Picture Book Fiction
Adler, David A. Mama Played Baseball
Gorin, Leslie Elly and the Smelly Sneaker
Johnson, Angela  Just Like Josh Gibson

Middle Grade Fiction
Alpine, Rachele  You Throw Like a Girl
Bishop, Jenn  The Distance to Home
Butler, Dori Hillestad   Sliding Into Home
Clark, R. M. The Secret at Haney Field
Cochran, Mick  The Girl Who Threw Butterflies
Cristaidi, Kathryn  Baseball Ballerina and Baseball Ballerina Strikes Out
Day, Karen   No Cream Puffs
Gutierrez, Amy  Smary Marty Steps Up Her Game
Higgins, Carter  A Rambler Steals Home
Klages, Ellen Out of Left Field

Lord, Bette Bao   The Year of the Boar and Jackie Robinson
Mozer, Stacy Barnett  The Sweet Spot and The Perfect Trip
Naylor, Phyllis Reynolds   The Girls Take Over (Boy/Girl Battle Series)
Park, Linda Sue  Keeping Score
Testa, Maria  Some Kind of Pride
Tripp, Valerie  Kit's Home Run (American Girls Short Stories)


Young Adult Nonfiction
Ignotofsky, Rachel Women in Sports
Yomtov, Nel The Belles of Baseball

Young Adult Fiction
Griffiths, Sara  Throw a Curve
Hui Lee, Kris Out of Left Field
White, Ellen Emerson  A Season of Daring Greatly

Friday, July 27, 2018

Each day this week we will be sharing books about girls and women who play baseball. Today we are focusing on fiction young adult books. Books are in no particular order. The blurbs are from Amazon.

Marnie has never had a hard time fitting in with the guys. It would take a lot more than their goofy antics to keep her from joining them at the neighborhood sandlot to do what she loves best: play ball. An added perk of hanging out at the sandlot? Spending time with Cody Kinski, their high school's star pitcher and Marnie's best friend. Sure, he can be stubborn and annoying. He also knows how to make her laugh and respects her skills on the field. And when he gets nailed in the arm by a bone-fracturing pitch, Marnie becomes the team's best chance at making it to the playoffs. Except no one told the guys they're supposed to be on her side. 


There was a time when all was right in Taylor Dresden’s world―that is, as long as she was on the baseball diamond, pitching with all her heart. Now, as she enters her senior year, the magic is gone. With the scouts losing interest because of her poor grades, and with the challenge of the game gone, Taylor has made a difficult decision―she won't be playing her senior year. Everything changes when a local all-boys prep school recruits Taylor for its own baseball team. One of the first three girls ever to attend, Taylor must face the Statesmen―an organization determined to force Taylor and the other girls out of their school. Taylor knows she’s a great pitcher, but can she be a great student? Can she succeed in the face of devious boys who will stop at nothing to get rid of her? Singled Out, the exciting sequel to Thrown a Curve, will answer these questions as Taylor struggles to find her place beyond the pitcher’s mound.

Eighteen-year-old Jill Cafferty just made history. Her high school’s star pitcher, she is now the first woman drafted by a major league baseball team. Only days after her high school graduation, she’ll join the Pittsburgh Pirates’ Class A Short Season team . . . but not everyone is happy to have her there. On top of the pressure heaped on every pitcher, Jill must deal with defying conventions and living up to impossible expectations, all while living away from home for the first time. She’ll go head-to-head against those who are determined to keep baseball an all-male sport. Despite the reassurance of coaches and managers alike, a few of her teammates are giving her trouble. The media presence following her at each game is inescapable. And to top it all off, Jill is struggling with the responsibilities of being a national hero and a role model for young women everywhere. How can she be a role model when she’s not even sure she made the right choice for herself? Didn’t baseball used to be fun?



Thursday, July 26, 2018

#WomeninBaseballWeek Nonfiction Young Adult Books

Each day this week we will be sharing books about girls and women who play baseball. Today we are focusing on nonfiction young adult books. Books are in no particular order. The blurbs are from Amazon.

Discusses how in the 1940s and 1950s women broke traditional gender barriers by playing professional baseball.

A richly illustrated and inspiring book, Women in Sports highlights the achievements and stories of fifty notable women athletes from the 1800s to today, including trailblazers, Olympians, and record-breakers in more than forty sports. The athletes featured include well-known figures like tennis player Billie Jean King and gymnast Simone Biles, as well as lesser-known champions like Toni Stone, the first woman to play baseball in a professional men’s league, and skateboarding pioneer Patti McGee. The book also contains infographics on topics that sporty women want to know about such as muscle anatomy, a timeline ofwomen’s participation in sports, pay and media statistics for female athletes, and influential women’s teams. Women in Sports celebrates the success of the tough, bold, and fearless women who paved the way for today’s athletes.



Wednesday, July 25, 2018

#WomeninBaseballWeek Fiction Middle Grade

Each day this week we will be sharing books about girls and women who play baseball. Today we are focusing on fiction middle grade books. Books are in no particular order. The blurbs are from Amazon.

Last summer, Quinnen was the star pitcher of her baseball team, the Panthers. They were headed for the championship, and her loudest supporter at every game was her best friend and older sister, Haley. This summer, everything is different. Haley’s death, at the end of last summer, has left Quinnen and her parents reeling. Without Haley in the stands, Quinnen doesn’t want to play baseball. It seems like nothing can fill the Haley-sized hole in her world. The one glimmer of happiness comes from the Bandits, the local minor-league baseball team. For the first time, Quinnen and her family are hosting one of the players for the season. Without her sister, Quinnen’s not sure it will be any fun, but soon she befriends a few players. With their help, can she make peace with the past and return to the pitcher’s mound?

Garland, Derby, and Triple Clark spend each season traveling highways and byways in their Rambler—until summer, when small-town Ridge Creek, Virginia, calls them back. There they settle in, selling burgers and fries out of Garland’s Grill after each game the Rockskippers play in their battered minor-league baseball stadium. Derby’s summer traditions bring her closer than she’s ever been to a real home that isn’t on wheels, but this time, her return to Ridge Creek reveals unwelcome news. Now the person Derby loves most in town needs her help—and yet finding a way to do so may uncover deeply held stories and secrets.

For an eighth grader, Molly Williams has more than her fair share of problems. Her father has just died in a car accident, and her mother has become a withdrawn, quiet version of herself. Molly doesn’t want to be seen as “Miss Difficulty Overcome”; she wants to make herself known to the kids at school for something other than her father’s death. So she decides to join the baseball team. The boys’ baseball team. Her father taught her how to throw a knuckleball, and Molly hopes it’s enough to impress her coaches as well as her new teammates.

Smarty Marty, and her little brother Mikey, are back in the first in a series of illustrated chapter books, about a girl who loves baseball, written by San Francisco Giants in-game reporter Amy Gutierrez. Smarty Marty is the official scorekeeper for her little brothers Little League team. But when the game announcer fails to show up for the first game, Marty is called to announce the game, inspiring her dream not only to score but to announce. But not everyone is happy about a girl getting to announce a baseball game.

Madison is not your average 12-year-old girl from Michigan in 1980. She doesn’t use lipgloss, but she loves to play sports, and joins baseball for the summer—the first girl in Southern Michigan to play on a boys’ team. The press call her a star and a trailblazer, but Madison just wants to play ball. Who knew it would be so much pressure? Crowds flock to the games. Her team will win the championship—if she can keep up her pitching streak. Meanwhile, she’s got a crush on a fellow player, her best friend abandons her for the popular girls, the “O” on her Hinton’s uniform forms a bulls-eye over her left breast, and the boy she punched on the last day of school plans to bean her in the championship game.

Every boy in the neighborhood knows Katy Gordon is their best pitcher, even though she's a girl. But when she tries out for Little League, it's a whole different story. Girls are not eligible, period. It is a boy's game and always has been. It's not fair, and Katy's going to fight back. Inspired by what she's learning about civil rights in school, she sets out to prove that she's not the only girl who plays baseball. With the help of friendly librarians and some tenacious research skills, Katy discovers the forgotten history of female ball players. Why does no one know about them? Where are they now? And how can one ten-year-old change people’s minds about what girls can do? 

When 13-year-old Joelle, a star baseball player, moves to a new town where the only option for girls is softball, she starts an all-girl baseball league against the wishes of her school coaches and others in the town.

Allie loves baseball. It's the one thing that has been consistent in her lately complicated life. Allie's father left recently, and now Allie has a new family—her mother's new girlfriend, Phyllis, and Phyllis's son, Miles, have moved in. It's taking some adjustment, mostly because Miles seems determined to get under her skin. Things start looking up when Allie gets invited to join the boys' baseball team as their new pitcher. But then Miles announces that he's quitting the boys' team and trying out for Allie's old team—a girls' team!

Fran Cullers is having a horrible summer. She was a star player on the Little League team in her old town, so the Highwater Hardwares should be thrilled to have her-except that they hate girls. She can run rings around these guys, but they won't even give her a chance. So Fran sets out to destroy the Hardwares. But vengeance is a dangerous thing, as she soon finds out. Fran, who has already faced some terrible losses, is about to lose the most important thing in her life-unless her family and friends come to her aid when she needs them most.

Named after the mighty Babe Ruth, Ruth DiMarco has some big shoes to fill. But she’s already on her way to achieving her dream of becoming a major-league baseball player. Eleven-year-old Ruth is the star shortstop in her small Maine town, and now a reporter is coming to interview her for Sports Illustrated magazine. She’s at the top of her game. Then she overhears her father in the crowd: “Real major-league talent. But I can’t help thinking what a shame it is that it’s all wasted on a girl.” 

This last book was written by our sporty girl blogger, Stacy Mozer. When thirteen-year-old Sam Barrette’s baseball coach tells her that her attitude's holding her back, she wants to hit him in the head with a line drive. Why shouldn’t she have an attitude? As the only girl playing in the 13U league, she’s had to listen to boys and people in the stands screaming things like “Go play softball,” all season, just because she’s a girl. Her coach barely lets her play, even though she’s one of the best hitters on the team. All stakes now rest on Sam’s performance at baseball training camp. 





Tuesday, July 24, 2018

#WomenInBaseballWeek Nonfiction Middle Grade

Each day this week we will be sharing books about girls and women who play baseball. Today we are focusing on nonfiction middle grade books. Blurbs are from Amazon.

At the age of thirteen, Mo'ne Davis became the first female pitcher to win a game in the Little League World Series and the first Little Leaguer to be featured on the cover of Sports Illustrated. A month later she earned a place in the National Baseball Hall of Fame. This inspiring memoir from a girl who learned to play baseball with the boys and rose to national stardom before beginning eighth grade will encourage young readers to reach for their dreams no matter the odds. Mo'ne's story is one of determination, hard work, and an incredible fastball.
For 12 seasons, from 1943 to 1954, the All-American Girls Professional Baseball League captured America's attention with top-notch playing, and showed everyone that a woman's place was at home only when she was at bat, behind the plate, or scoring a run!

Motivated by her love for the game and inspired by the legendary Jackie Robinson, Mamie Johnson is determined to be a professional baseball pitcher.  But in a sport that's determined by white men, there is no place for a black woman.  Mamie doesn't give up-from the time she insists on trying out for the all-male, all-white Police Athletic League until she realizes her dream and becomes one of three women to play in the Negro Leagues.  Mamie Johnson's life shows that with courage and perseverance one can overcome even the greatest challenges.