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
- Free Multicultural Books for Teachers
- Our New FREE Teacher Classroom Physical and Developmental Challenges Kit http://ow.ly/kcbZ30p3QWz
- Free Empathy Classroom Kit for Homeschoolers, Organizations, Librarians, and Educators
- Free Understanding Developmental & Physical Challenges Classroom Kit