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, July 22, 2020

#Womeninbaseballweek 2020 New Young Adult

As the daughter of a successful Major League pitcher, Charlie Hastings has baseball in her blood. Unfortunately, being the only girl on her high school baseball team, Charlie has always been just one of the guys.

When her best friend, and secret love of her life, asks another girl to the prom, Charlie is devastated. She’s tired of being overlooked by boys because she’s not like other girls. Suffering a massive identity crisis, she decides to hang up her cleats and finally learn how to be a girl.

But with only two weeks until the state championships, the Roosevelt High Ravens can’t afford to lose their star catcher. Team captain Jace King makes her a deal: Don’t quit the team, and he’ll help her become the girl she’s so desperate to be. After all, he’s got four sisters, one of whom happens to be a cheerleader. He knows a thing or two about girls. (And if he can win her heart in the process, all the better.)



Being a transracial adoptee doesn't bother sixteen-year-old Alex Kirtridge-at least, not in a way she can explain to her white family. It doesn't matter that she's biracial when she's the star of the baseball team. But when Alex is off the field, she's teased for "acting" too white and judged for looking black. And while she loves her parents, her hot-headed brother, and her free-speaking sister, they don't seem to understand what it means that Reggie, a fellow ball player, is the first black guy who's wanted to get to know her. 

Things only get more complicated when she finds hidden letters from her birth father. Alex can't stop asking questions. Does she really fit in with her family? What would it be like to go to a black hairdresser? Should she contact her birth father, despite the fact that it might devastate her parents? Meanwhile, her body is changing, and Alex isn't sure she can keep up with her teammates. If she's going to find answers, Alex must come to terms with her adoption, her race, and the dreams she thought would always guide her.


Tuesday, July 21, 2020

#Womeninbaseballweek 2020 New Nonfiction

It does not appear to be a good year for new middle grade. We were only able to fine one and it's part of a longer series.

Mamie "Peanut" Johnson had one dream: to play professional baseball. She was a talented player, but she wasn't welcome in the segregated All-American Girls Pro Baseball League due to the color of her skin. However, a greater opportunity came her way in 1953 when Johnson signed to play ball for the Negro Leagues' Indianapolis Clowns, becoming the first female pitcher to play on a men's professional team. During the three years she pitched for the Clowns, her record was an impressive 33-8. But more importantly, she broke ground for other female athletes and for women everywhere.

See our review of Mamie on the Mound here.

Kat D. Williams traces Isabel “Lefty” Alvarez’s life from her childhood in Cuba, where she played baseball with the boys on the streets of El Cerro, to her reinvention as a professional baseball player and American citizen. Isabel “Lefty” Alvarez gives the reader a look into Alvarez’s young life in Cuba during the turbulent years leading up to Castro’s revolution, as political differences tore families apart. Alvarez came to the United States at fifteen, speaking no English, and experienced the challenge of immigration as her mother pushed her to become a professional athlete in her newly adopted country.






Have you ever wondered why most cheerleaders are girls? It didn’t used to be that way. Up until the early twentieth century, all cheerleaders were actually boys. And why do some athletes, like Caster Semenya, have to prove they’re women while there’s no testing for men? Why do athletes like Megan Rapinoe and Colin Kaepernick use sports as a platform for social justice, and should they?

These questions and more are examined in 
Throw Like a Girl, Cheer Like a Boy: The Evolution of Gender, Identity, and Race in Sports. Robyn Ryle uses the world of sports to examine the history, controversy, and current conversations around sexuality, race, and social justice, bringing in the stories of today’s athletes to highlight where things stand in the present. Topics covered include gender segregation, gender testing, transgender athletes, sexuality, homophobia, globalization, race, and activism.







Monday, July 20, 2020

#Womeninbaseballweek 2020 New Middle Grade Fiction

It does not appear to be a good year for new middle grade. We were only able to fine one and it's part of a longer series. We did find one for 2021.


At the first practice of the season, Derek takes note of who is on the team. They have some good players, for sure—but also some weaker ones. There’s still one kid missing, and Derek hopes it’s a really good ballplayer to round out the roster. But when the kid arrives, everyone is shocked: she’s a girl! Can Derek’s team come together to have a winning season?









Coming in 2021

Much Ado About Baseball

Trish moves to the town of Comity, MA and finds herself on the same summer baseball team as her math competition rival, Ben. The two 12-year-olds have to set aside their dislike for each other in order to help their team win, but the team is terrible. When a booklet of math puzzles claiming to reveal the “ultimate answer” arrives, Trish and Ben start solving them, and the team’s luck seems to turn around…or is that because of the unusual snacks they’re getting from the new snack shop in town, the Salt Shaker? When excitement then leads to tragedy, can Trish and Ben find the answer to the ultimate puzzle, or will they strike out when it counts the most? This companion novel to Midsummer’s Mayhem combines math, baseball, food, and magic.

Sunday, July 19, 2020

#Womeninbaseballweek 2020

It's women in baseball week! Here are the books we shared last year. Starting tomorrow we will add some new ones to the list.



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, January 31, 2020

Mamie on the Mound = My SportyGirl Pick for Multicultural Children’s Book Day! #ReadYourWorld

 
By Brenda Barrera

Last year for Multicultural Children’s Book Day, I reviewed There’s No Base Like Home, a delightful Middle Grade (MG) book by Jessica Mendoza. This year, I was thrilled to be gifted  another baseball book to review: MAMIE ON THE MOUND: A WOMAN IN BASEBALL’S NEGRO LEAGUES by Leah Henderson and illustrated by George Doutsiopoulos.

Mamie “Peanut” Johnson had a fierce, fast pitch and was the first female pitcher (one of three women) to play professional baseball in the Negro League.

As a girl raised in South Carolina and then later in New Jersey, Mamie developed a passion for baseball while playing with her Uncle Leo (also the same age), and unlike many parents of that generation, her parents encouraged their little girl to follow her heart. Despite her physical size, as small black girl (hence, the nickname Peanut), Mamie demonstrated remarkable courage and perseverance. She first joined the all-white, all-boys Police Athletic League and with an improved right arm pitch, led the team to two division championships.  
At age 11, she moved to Washington, DC, where she played on local semipro men’s teams before attempting to try out for the All-American Girls Professional League – only to be rejected because of her race. Imagine the disappointment of not even being allowed on the field with the other girls. Some girls might have given up, but not Mamie.
Fortunately, a former Negro League player gave her a tip about tryouts for a team, the Negro Leagues’ Indianapolis Clowns. She earned a spot on the roster where she honed her fastball, curveball, and screwball playing across the country from Comiskey Park in Chicago to Yankee Stadium in New York.
Mamie beat the odds, pursued her dreams while overcoming diversity and gender discrimination. This is a winning biography about a tiny yet tough trailblazing athlete who defied numerous obstacles to secure her well-earned place in sports history. Readers will be interested to know that that the author, Leah Henderson shared a similar experience – she was one of two girls who played on a competitive “all-boys” soccer team.  

Highly recommend this well-written and beautifully illustrated, non-fiction picture book for younger readers up to grade 5. Also, includes an Afterward and Selected Bibliography. While I was familiar with the Negro League, I did not know about Mamie or the other women who also broke barriers mentioned in this book, Toni Stone and Connie Morgan. This is also an ideal reading pick for the upcoming National Girls and Women in Sports Day coming up on February 5, 2020.

 Multicultural Children’s Book Day is in its 7th year. This non-profit children’s literacy initiative was founded by Valarie Budayr and Mia Wenjen; two diverse book-loving moms who saw a need to shine the spotlight on all of the multicultural books and authors on the market while also working to get those book into the hands of young readers and educators. Seven years in, MCBD’s mission is to raise awareness of the ongoing need to include kids’ books that celebrate diversity in homes and school bookshelves continues.
 FREE RESOURCES from Multicultural Children’s Book Day

Friday, October 11, 2019

Celebrate 2019 International Day of the Girl with SERENA: THE LITTLEST SISTER


"We need to uphold the equal rights, voices, and influence of girls in our families, communities, and nations. Girls can be powerful agents of change, and nothing should keep them from participating fully in all areas of life." — UN Secretary-General António Guterres

It's fitting that today as we celebrate the October 11 InternationalDay of the Girl, we feature this engaging book that celebrates Serena Williams, an inspirational and powerful agent of change.

In this picture-book biography, Karlin Gray (author of NADIA: The Girl Who Couldn’t Sit Still) introduces readers to a younger Serena, the littlest Williams sister. She went on to become ranked number one in the world in tennis, hold the most Grand Slam titles, and add four time Olympic gold medalist, UNICEF International Goodwill Ambassador, plus fashion and interior designer to the list of achievements.

Gray addresses the question: How does having a sibling affect athletic interest or performance? Just ask anyone with a sibling who plays a sport and the answer might be, “I didn’t want to be compared to my brother/sister so I joined (fill in the blank) team” or “I was bored watching my sister play from the sidelines so I joined along.” Serena was just four-years-old when she followed her four older sisters Venus, Lyndrea, Isha, and Yetunde onto the public tennis courts in Compton, California. She was part of a team, a family who dedicated themselves to one sport: tennis.

While many may be familiar with the sisterly, competitive bond of Serena and Venus, Gray shares the different interests of all the sisters and how each influenced their little sister on and off the court. I highly recommend this sporty girl book, SERENA: THE LITTLEST SISTER, that is beautifully illustrated by Monica Ahanonu, an artist who “loves creating art that features bright colors and strong black women.”

The back matter includes a follow-up to what each sister is currently doing with quotes from each and a bibliography (books, periodicals, film/TV, and Websites).

Monday, August 26, 2019

My Book Pick for Women’s Equality Day is Mara Rockliff’s Billie Jean!

By Brenda Barrera

August 26th marks Women’s Equality Day in the United States, when we celebrate the passage of the 19th Amendment to the Constitution, giving white women the right to vote. (Note: it took many more years before women of color were guaranteed that same right). This is an ideal day to celebrate the newly released picture book biography BILLIE JEAN! HOW TENNIS STAR BILLIE JEAN CHANGED WOMEN'S SPORTS by Mara Rockliff and beautifully illustrated by Elizabeth Baddeley that introduces young readers to this iconic tennis player.

Rockliff, author of several historical books for children, offers a glimpse into Billie Jean’s life from childhood, through her rise in the tennis ranks and winning numerous major championships, to her historic televised “Battle of the Sexes” match with Bobby Riggs and forming an all-women’s tennis tour. A common theme throughout? Not accepting “no” for an answer when it came to playing the sport she loved or fighting for women’s rights and equal pay. Readers trying to break the habit of cursing might take a cue from Billie Jean. When she was miffed or missed a drop shot, she would call out “peanut butter!” It’s noteworthy that Rockliff highlights the value of training hard to win over the emphasis of looking pretty in addition to unbalanced media coverage with different questions directed to male competitors compared to athletes like Billie Jean. Both still occur.

The back matter includes an Author’s Note with specific statistics (she won 39 Grand Slam Championships); dates (1973 was the year the US Open Tennis Championship offered men and women equal prize money); and personal information (she and Olympic swimmer Donna De Varona founded the Women’s Sports Foundation and she also came out as gay in the 1980s).

This delightful, important picture book is a reminder that ensuring equality does not happen overnight, but thanks to leadership from athlete/activists like Billie Jean King, much progress has been made. It’s also a timely book choice to tie into the US Open Tennis Championship which occurs every August/September.