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, April 29, 2014

Sporty Girl Interview with MG Readers Hailey and Hannah

Today I'm visiting with my nieces Hailey, age 12, and Hannah, age 10. They've agreed to let me interview them about life, sports, reading, and tomboys.

Five words to describe yourself:
Hailey: smart, active, hoop skills, excited, tomboy
Hannah: awesome, musical, funny, smart, pretty

Hailey: I like sports, soccer, football, basketball, baseball, skateboarding, running. I do cross country at school and will be starting 5 on 5 soccer soon.

You skateboard almost every day to school,
I have 3 skateboards, one of them is a training skateboard (beginners board) that I don't ride anymore bc it's too slow and you have to push a lot. One of them is a penny board, it's small and fits easily into my locker. My favorite board to ride is an advanced board that I can do tricks on, like ollies, tick tacking, turtles, and riding on my back wheels.

Do you ride with your friends? My friends don't really like to ride boards.

So when you're hanging out with your friends what do you normally do? I don't know…cops and robbers, four square (a lot), jump on the trampoline, and make up games.

What's your favorite book? Oh geeze, that's gonna be hard. I like Brandon Mull, Rick Riordan, Brandon Sanderson (Alzatraz books). I want to read Mistborn series really bad, but it's never in at the library. I like how they're action packed and I like how they're unrealistic.

Sounds like you're like me and read to escape reality:)

Hannah: Do you consider yourself a tomboy? Sort of. I think girly girly girls are silly and I don't like girl toys. I'd rather play outside and I love playing outside, esp. in mud and dirt and I love acting and singing and cooking.

When you're hanging out with friends what do you like to do? Most of my friends really like to do different things, so it depends who I'm playing with. One of my friends we really like to make forts and play four square. With another friend we play a lot of soccer, sing, and sometimes have a dance party. My favorite electronic thing in playing Just Dance 4 and I play the piano and I'm going to start learning the flute.

What's your favorite thing to make? I'm really good at making cookies and brownies and breakfast stuff like pancakes and french toast.

What sports do you like to play? I ride my bike and ride 5k's with my dad. I like soccer and baseball. Football is probably my favorite.

Tell me about your favorite race? Chelsea Hill was my favorite race. The race was to race awareness for wearing seat belts. (Chelsea Hill died bc she didn't wear her seatbelt) It was in West Valley. Every July 24th (Pioneer Day) my family goes down to Monroe for the Milk Run. That one is really fun. We always get a ton of T-shirts and snacks after the races.

Tell me about your favorite books. Spirit Animals is one of my favorite series. Dead End in Norville is also really fun. I like them because they're action books and they're funny.

How do you decide what you're going to read? Hailey usually reads it and gives it to me. I just really like the books Hailey recommends.

Thanks for being on Sporty Girl Books. It was super fun to interview you two!

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Five Tips for Winter Weary Spring Athletes

Forecasters predict cooler-than-normal spring for New England

Rowing Spring Season Start Delayed a Week

Frozen fields delay spring sports

These headlines from recent articles do not warm the hearts of thousands of athletes who count the days until rowing, softball, lacrosse, and track practice begin.  My town, in an effort to save the integrity of the flooded baseball and softball fields, is barring everyone from outdoor practices.  Young athletes and their coaches are vying for inside gym time with all the other boys and girls teams which means that your practice could start directly after school but it also could begin at eight at night. Ugh.

Here are five tips to help make this cold spring training time go smoothly:

1. Do your homework. 
There's nothing as stressful as coming into class when you're not prepared. Stress is the last thing you need while you train for your sport, but those teachers have no sympathy when you tell them that sports are the reason your work isn't done. So what can you do? First you need to know what's due when. Make sure you keep your assignment notebook (or digital equivalent) up to date. If you're not sure what your teacher wants when– ask. Prioritize your work by date doing the assignments that are due sooner, first. If you have a larger long-term project, break it down into smaller pieces and give yourself a due date for each smaller part. This is a method that writers use all the time. If you can get ahead of your schedule, do it. Study hall is a gift so use it wisely. If there's lag time between the end of school and practice, try going to the school library or stay in a kind teacher's room to get ahead. Make sure you bring assigned reading with you everywhere (especially your sibling's practices and events when you are otherwise sitting around but also the bathroom).  Finally, do your weekend homework when it's assigned instead of waiting until Sunday night. 

2. Get plenty of sleep.
According to this article, 9-10 hours of consistent sleep gave growth hormones a chance to stimulate muscle repair. Athletes in these studies showed improved performance and personal bests in their sports. To be your best at practice, make sure you schedule an early bedtime, 9ish or so, and try to stick with it. Turn off screens a good hour before you head to bed as the flickering pixels from backlit screens tend to make it harder to fall asleep. To relax, focus on your breath. Fill your belly first. Next make the breathing deeper and fill your belly and lungs. Finally, in three parts, fill belly, chest, and collar bone. Let the stress of the day float away like winter's snows and sleep tight!

3. Eat well.
Every day there's another diet, cleanse or testimony on Facebook or in a magazine telling us what to eat and what not to eat. It can be downright annoying. I hate when people tell me what to eat, so I won't do that. I will, however, tell you how to eat. Eat reasonable portions. Taste textures of crunchy fruits and veggies, lean or vegetable proteins, a little fat, good grains, and even high fiber low sugar carbs. Take time to help make the food you eat. Stay away from processed stuff in boxes, and wrappers. Most important, enjoy what you eat and share your meals with people you love.

4. Stay hydrated.
Drink water when you train. Drink water when you don't. Drink water when it is hot or cold outside. The Mayo Clinic states:
[W]ater flushes toxins out of vital organs, carries nutrients to your cells and provides a moist environment for ear, nose and throat tissues.
Lack of water can lead to dehydration, a condition that occurs when you don't have enough water in your body to carry out normal functions. Even mild dehydration can drain your energy and make you tired.

Eight to ten glasses of water a day are necessary for athletes who train on a regular basis so drink up!

5. Wash your hands.
I know it sounds ridiculous but if you want to be in the game, you have to stay well. That means taking care of yourself by washing your hands, using a tissue instead of picking your nose (ew...boogers), sneezing into your sleeve, etc. Being sidelined for an injury or illness is never fun. Have a great season and leave me a comment if you have any healthy tips for other athletes.

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Sporty Girl YA Novel Wins SCBWI Spark Award

I was THRILLED to hear the wonderful news that Karen Avivi won the SCBWI Spark Award for her contemporary sporty girl book, SHREDDED.  I interviewed Karen back in August -- you can read that interview here.

She agreed to share her thoughts about the honor of winning the VERY FIRST Spark Award. Congratulations, Karen. And thank you for being on the blog again!


Thank you Kris for inviting me back to Sporty Girl Books to share the news that I won the Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators inaugural Spark Award for my girls’ BMX novel Shredded. Having an organization like the SCBWI praise Shredded is a huge endorsement of independent publishing and sporty girl books. 

SCBWI Executive Director Lin Oliver said, “Kudos for Karen Avivi for going about self publishing in the proper way, using the editorial and design services of professionals in the field.  Shredded is the perfect kind of book to publish independently. It’s got a built-in audience of BMX fans and supplies a great story for a specific market. The action is tense, her characters are full, and the writing is full of pace and appeal.”

People kept telling me that a novel about girls’ BMX was too “niche,” but to me a niche is a good thing. If you’ve ever tried rock climbing, then you know that even a tiny crevice in the perfect spot is all you need to keep moving. Give me a niche in an interesting place over a crowded ledge any day!
Writing about an individual fringe girls sport is about as niche as it gets. What I love about these sports is their emphasis on creativity and innovation over rules and penalties. A character who has to constantly explain what her sport is, and then prepare for the inevitable “are you crazy” look is immediately interesting to me. There are so few of them, that when they find other like-minded people they instantly connect, whether they like each other or not. That backdrop provides a fantastic landscape for story creation. Exploring the “why do you do it?” and “what drives you?” questions for these athletes keeps my muse working overtime.

Hopefully, the Spark Award will encourage more writers to worry less about mass appeal and write the stories that genuinely interest them, like girls’ sports. With so many talented editors and cover designers freelancing, plus the advances in print-on-demand and electronic publishing, it is possible to independently create a polished, professional-looking book.
Grab those niches and climb on!

Note about the SCBWI Spark Award

The Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators is one of the largest existing writers’ and illustrators’ organizations, with over 22,000 members worldwide. It is the only organization specifically for those working in the fields of children’s literature, magazines, film, television, and multimedia.

The Spark Award is open to current writer and/or illustrator SCBWI members who have independently published a board book, picture book, chapter book, middle grade, or young adult novel through a self-publishing enterprise  or individually self-published.  The judges focused on quality of writing and concept, professional presentation, and editing and design. The Spark Award received over 500 entries in its inaugural year. 

Kris: I'm so happy for Karen, and I'm proud to be affiliated with SCBWI (though I have no connection to the award or the decision makers). SHREDDED was a great choice to win this honor. 

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

Go! Go! Sports Girls

Today I am interviewing Jodi Norgaard, the founder of Go! Go! Sports Girls, a toy company dedicated to get Sporty Dolls and books into the hands of little girls. Jodi is the founding member of Brave Girls Alliance (www.bravegirlswant) pushing media and retail to do a better job portraying girls beyond stereotypes.  Her current campaign is called Truth In Ads, http://www.bravegirlswant.com/truth-in-ads.html. She wants to make sure that all consumers, especially children, know when a human body has been altered in an ad. You can support Jodi's cause by signing the Truth in Ads petition.

What made you decide to start Go! Go! Sports Girls?
Two experiences led to my inspiration.  For four years I coached ‘Girls on the Run’, in which my daughter participated.  It is an amazing program which teaches girls confidence through running.  I saw this positive program change the lives of not only the young girls participating, but mine too.  My second experience wasn’t as uplifting.  When my daughter was 9 years old we were browsing the store for toys and she picked up a doll wearing a half shirt, bellybutton ring, eye shadow and its name on the hang tag was 'Lovely Lola'. "Mommy, is this doll for me to play with?" she asked. This frustrated me and made me angry, but it also inspired me to create the Go! Go! Sports Girl doll collection. I designed the dolls to empower girls to be active, promote healthy life skills, and encourage creative play through sport over fashion and body image. 

How did you come up with the ideas for the books?  
Four years ago a woman from Minneapolis named Kara Douglass Thom called me out of the blue.  She said she loved the Go! Go! Sports Girls and their positive message and that her three young daughters had collected all of them.  She said she was an author and would like to write books to go along with the dolls.  I told her that I would love to see her work, but I couldn’t pay her immediately.  She said, “That’s okay, I just want to be a part of this project.”  She started with Soccer Girl Cassie’s Story which was amazing.  Unfortunately, I didn’t have the funds to move forward with the books until last year when we got a big break.  I had the opportunity to pitch the dolls to Wal-Mart buyers.  They loved to book and doll idea and said if we could create five more books, they would test the product in select stores. I immediately called Kara and told her the good news and we started searching for an illustrator and an editor.  Within a month we brought to our team illustrator Pam Seatter and editor Susie Rich Brooke.  We make a great team and I am honored to work with such talented, hard working and kind women.   The doll/book set is called ‘Read & Play’ and it will launch in Wal-Mart and other stores throughout the country in May.

Will there be any additional stories for each girl?  
Yes.  I work with Independent Publishers Group and we have discussed the possibilities of additional stories for each doll.  My guess is that Basketball Girl Kate may be next on our list!  I also like the idea of adding books for younger girls around the age of 4 and 5. 

Do you have the same author for all of your books?  
Yes!  Kara is incredibly talented and smart.  We work very well together.

Where do you see Go! Go! Sports Girls going in the future? 
I would love to see the line expand to include additional books and dolls as well as a line of clothes for the dolls so Soccer Girl could have a swimsuit, pajamas, shorts, etc.  I also work with a wonderful licensing company in NY and they recently pitched the Go! Go! Sports Girls  as a children’s television program.  We are Dreaming Big! 

Please feel free to add anything else you think our readers should know about the dolls and your company.  All six Read & Plays recently won the highest award in the toy industry, the Oppenheim Toy Portfolio Platinum Award.  I believe in my product and its message and so do others.  I also believe something is wrong with the images we are showing our kids and how women are objectified and sexualized in the media. When you have Barbie appearing in the Sports Illustrated swimsuit issue and Hello Kitty teaming up with Playboy, you know something has gone terribly wrong with girls’ toys!  My product is part of the solution. 

To learn more about Go! Go! Sports Girls, visit their website. You can also watch a video made about their company at http://bluesky.chicagotribune.com/originals/chi-jodi-norgaard-of-dream-big-toy-company-20140318,0,0.premiumvideo

Tuesday, April 1, 2014

Take Me Out to the Ball Game

I hope you've all read Anna's post from last week about her new glove. I recently learned that women baseball fans have been around for so long that the most popular baseball song ever written was about them. The song is Take Me Out to the Ball Game!

No, this is not an April Fool's Day Joke. Take Me Out to the Ball Game was written about not one, but two women baseball fans.

First written in 1908, the full lyrics by Jack Norworth tell the story of Katie Casey. When her boyfriend asks her whether she would like to go see a show she replies with the famous words we all know:

"Take me out to the ball game,
Take me out with the crowd.
Buy me some peanuts and cracker jack,
I don't care if I never get back,
Let me root, root, root for the home team,
If they don't win it's a shame.
For it's one, two, three strikes, you're out,
At the old ball game."

In 1927, the song was rereleased, this time about a women named Nelly Kelly. Nelly's boyfriend asks to take her to Coney Island but her response is the same as Katie's.

"Take me out to the ball game,
Take me out with the crowd.
Buy me some peanuts and cracker jack,
I don't care if I never get back,
Let me root, root, root for the home team,
If they don't win it's a shame.
For it's one, two, three strikes, you're out,
At the old ball game."

So the next time you sing this song, think of the women baseball fans who came before you. I know I can't wait until my first ball game this year. 

For the complete lyrics and story behind the song, visit The Baseball Almanac