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.

Saturday, July 31, 2021

#WomenInBaseballWeek Interview with Rajani LaRocca and Much Ado About Baseball

Today is the final day of this year's Women in Baseball Week. What better way to end the week than with an interview with one of my favorite authors, Rajani LaRocca, whose book, Much Ado About Baseball, was released in June!

Rajani was born in India, raised in Kentucky, and now lives in the Boston area, where she practices medicine and writes award-winning novels and picture books, including Midsummer’s Mayhem (2019), Seven Golden Rings (2020), Red, White, and Whole (2021), Bracelets for Bina’s Brothers (2021), Much Ado About Baseball (2021), and more. She’s always been an omnivorous reader, and now she is an omnivorous writer of fiction and nonfiction, novels and picture books, prose and poetry. She finds inspiration in her family, her childhood, the natural world, math, science, and just about everywhere she looks. 

Welcome to the Sporty Girl Book Blog, Rajani. We're so glad you could join us. Your main character plays baseball. Why baseball? Were you a baseball player growing up?

I didn't play baseball growing up, but my son played T-ball through high school ball, so I've been around a lot of baseball. I never appreciated the beauty of the game until I met my husband in college, and because of him, I grew to appreciate the pitcher vs. catcher duels, the sometimes leisurely pace, and the exciting plays on the bases.
Much Ado About Baseball combines baseball and Shakespeare. How did you come up with this idea?
I wanted to present the "other side" of the magical competition introduced in Midsummer's Mayhem, so I knew this story would involve Shakespeare and sports and math/science. I love Shakespeare's play, Much Ado About Nothing, which involves two main characters who have so much in common but can't stand each other until they get a little help from their friends. And I've always loved stories involving kids solving puzzles to save the day. So I ended up with a combination of Shakespeare, baseball, and math puzzles!

Tell us more about your main character, Trish.
When twelve-year-old Trish has to move to a new town again, she's worried about fitting in . . . especially as a girl who loves math and plays baseball. At her first summer baseball practice, she recognizes a teammate: Ben, the boy she beat in the spring's Math Puzzler Tournament. He can't stand her, and Trish knows he's going to discover her secret.
Ben hasn't played baseball in two years, and he doesn't want to play now. But once he realizes Trish is on the team, he knows he can't quit. And their team is terrible and can't manage to win a single game.

But then Trish and Ben meet a power-hitting older kid who tells them about his family's snacks that might help their team come together. And then they each find a book of mysterious math puzzles. Once they start solving the puzzles, they begin to form a tenuous friendship, and suddenly their team can't stop winning.

Then they come to a puzzle they can't solve, with disastrous consequences. Can Trish and Ben find a way to work together to find the "ultimate answer," or will they strike out when it counts the most?
What was your publication journey with this book?
This was a challenging book to write. I knew I wanted to write a companion novel to Midsummer's Mayhem, my debut. But it took me a long time to figure out how to write this narrative as dual POV, and to understand what the magical people in the book wanted. I found that writing a synopsis for the whole book really helped me figure out how everything fit together.
Do you have any favorite sporty girl reads? If not, what’s your all-time favorite read?
I love Lupe Wong Won't Dance by Donna Barba Higuera, Karen Day's No Cream Puffs and Jen Petro-Roy's Life in the Balance.

Thank you so much, Rajani! To connect with Rajani and learn more about her and her books visit her at www.RajaniLaRocca.com.

Monday, March 22, 2021

Extreme Reading = Extreme Fun! Guest Post by Ann McCallum Staats


Extreme Reading = Extreme Fun!

By Ann McCallum Staats


Surfing? Snowboarding? Formula car racing? Cave diving inside an iceberg?

When I first thought about writing a book about women in extreme sports, I’d heard about some, but not all of these sports outside the lines. Who knew that a wingsuit flyer could zip into a human-sized ‘flying squirrel’ suit in order to jump from a cliff and soar horizontally? What about highlining, balancing along a flexible cord thousands of feet above the ground? In some cases without a tether. I learned of ultrarunning, the pursuit of running 50, 100, even 200 miles or more in a race against time or other athletes. Wasn’t running a 26-mile marathon superhuman enough? The more I learned, the more fascinated I became.

 But aren’t adventure sports high risk? Despite meticulous planning and painstaking attention to safety, things could still go wrong. Why take any chances? Who are these women who practice extreme pursuits? Do they possess an unusual lack of fear, some supreme confidence perhaps, or maybe a willingness to risk all? What makes them tick?

The women I interviewed for Thrill Seekers: 15 Remarkable Women in Extreme Sports are all extreme athletes, passionate about their sports, sure, but also tapping into something more. I decided to find out what that ‘more’ was all about.

I’m average when it comes to athleticism. I’m not super coordinated, nor exceptionally strong. I grew up in Canada where skiing was our thing, but I was never much into organized sports. I did used to run—still do—but it’s at a snail’s pace and only a couple of miles. Running is simple and safe. You lace up a pair of sneakers, plug in earbuds, and go. In my case, I slow to a walk when I get to any sort of elevation. Like I said: safe. Yet …

Inspired by the contagious enthusiasm of the ladies I interviewed, I decided to do some firsthand research. I tried scuba diving first. It was pre-Covid, and I signed up for an all-in-one lesson package. I showed up, put on the gear, and initially sat on the bottom of the swimming pool. Though it was only a couple of feet to the surface and easily reachable by standing up, this was the scariest part for me. It felt wrong. It took setting aside logic to take breath after breath underwater without panicking.  It was happening, though, and so when we took it a step further and walked into the ocean from the beach, I had reached an understanding that breathing underwater was okay.  

Under the surface of the ocean, the water was clear, but it wasn’t like looking at the horizon on land. There was limited visible distance. It crossed my mind that a shark could easily come out of the murk at any time. No sharks appeared, thankfully, but we did see a stingray laying on the sandy bottom. I don’t know if the divemaster shooed it away, but it suddenly it rose up and winged its way off into deeper waters.

Okay, so scuba diving was checked off my list, albeit the beginner’s version. Next, intrigued by the idea of high-stakes racing, I signed up to do a ride-along in a Formula racecar, another of the chapters I’d covered in my book. I stepped onto the Richmond Raceway, surrounded by revving engines. I could smell the fuel and, I swear, the adrenaline. Once strapped into the seat of the racecar, the driver jockeyed from the pit to the track. He accelerated, and we were off at a breakneck speed. I do recall raising both hands from the wheel to do a rollercoaster-esque no-hands wave—but only for a second.  

Perhaps the best experience I tried, once again inspired by interviewing some truly amazing people, was skydiving. It was tandem, of course. Apparently rules dictate that you must dive strapped securely to an expert for a minimum of 25 times before going at it alone. Fine by me!

Every part of this experience was a joy. From walking on the tarmac to the plane, from cramming inside that small bird to sitting on the edge of the gaping side door, each part was a novel and exciting moment. With the wind whipping past us, my instructor—his name was Cornelius—asked me if I was ready. Then, after a one, two, three, we dropped from the plane … and kept dropping. I had little awareness of the ground, only the sense of the wind rushing past. When Cornelius deployed the parachute, the sky-level view brought a profound beauty and peace. There was one moment of doubt—Cornelius loosened the straps on my legs and shoulders, though thankfully not too much.

Once earthbound, I replayed the experience over and over. Yes, there had been an element of real risk. There were definitely things that could have gone wrong … Ultimately, though, what I felt was a heightened sense of being alive. Ah-ha, I thought, this is the “more” those extreme sports women have tapped into. More joy. More life. More appreciation. It’s a precious feeling.  



Thrill Seekers: 15 Remarkable Women in Extreme Sports (Chicago Review Press, March 2, 2021). The book covers a diverse and international collection of female extreme athletes, inspiring young people who moved past their fears to do the things they love the most. Each chapter shares a journey of challenge, grit, and ultimate determination.

If you would like to win a copy of Thrill Seekers, leave a comment below the post.

Monday, March 8, 2021

Deep Fun: A Guest Post by Middle Grade Author Joy Jones

When people hear that I started a Double Dutch team for adults - and that I’m still jumping rope as a senior…  Why they assume I’m a jump rope ninja and Double Dutch superstar.


Then when they migrate over to my Instagram page and watch me on video - they see I’m not that great.



I don’t jump to win awards or make money and even though I want to stay fit and to be able to rock a cute outfit, even that’s not my primary purpose.


I exercise because it feels good.


Too often, many young people look at organized sports, PE classes and obligatory after-school programs as torture chambers for their self-esteem. If you cant score then youre ignored. If you’re not fast, cool or athletic, you get teased, shamed or bullied.


But playing a sport doesn’t have to mean competition. Physical movement is for everybody, not just those vying for an athletic scholarship or dreaming of a pro ball career or even an A in gym class. Especially when done outside a structured environment like school and when students can pick an activity they actually like, they discover the pleasure of the game. They learn to play well rather than work out.


Competition has its place and purpose. But so does fun. Young people - old people, too - are more likely to engage in something if it sparks joy and excitement. ‘Feel good’ always beats out ‘good for you.’


We should encourage our kids to play sports, not compete. Emphasize the fun. According to one study, tweens and teens said that having fun was the number one reason they participate in sports. (Dishman et al., 2005; Biddle, Whitehead, ODonovan, & Nevill, 2005). It’s a much happier remedy than pills. Exercise comes with a double-sided blessing - it cures and prevents illness. It’s beneficial for both mental and medical health.


How can you own a body and not want to use it? Thats like having a sexy dress only to keep it on the hanger. Yet a lot of our screen-obsessed kids are letting their beautiful bodies waste away in the closet.


In high school, I tried out for basketball and volleyball and although I thought I was good, I didn’t make the teams. Yet not doing some sort of physical activity would have been unimaginable to me. Over the years, depending on interest and availability, I have done acrobatics, aerobics, swimming, African dance, swing dance, modern dance, tae kwon do, walking, jogging, yoga.



I wasn’t trying to achieve anything. I was a girl who just wanted to have fun. I may not have made those high school teams but my pursuit of physical pleasure enlarged my world in ways I’d never have anticipated. It led me to form my own adult Double Dutch team, DC Retro Jumpers. And my team was hired as cultural ambassadors, teaching Double Dutch in Russia. More recently, my adventures with Double Dutch inspired my MG book, JAYLA JUMPS IN (Albert Whitman & Co.)


Check that out - child’s play brought me good health, new friends, world travel, a book deal. I have to agree with the Oaqui sentiment: “When fun gets deep enough, it can heal the world.”


Joy Jones is a performer, playwright and the author of several books for adults and children. Her most recent are FEARLESS PUBLIC SPEAKING (Sterling Publishing), a how-to for teens, and JAYLA JUMPS IN (Albert Whitman & Co.), a middle grade novel. JAYLA JUMPS IN, which gained a Starred Review from Booklist, grew out of her experience as the founder of DC Retro Jumpers, an adult Double Dutch team. Visit her on the web at www.joyjonesOnline.com or hang out with her on Twitter: joyjones100 or her favorite, Instagram: joyjones1433.  
Support an indy bookstore and get your copy of JAYLA JUMPS IN here: https://www.eastcitybookshop.com/search/site/jayla%20jumps%20in



Sunday, February 7, 2021

Sporty Girl Football Books for Superbowl Sunday 2021!

Superbowl Sunday with Sporty Girl Books

As you enjoy your Superbowl Sunday, here are some sporty girl football books to add to your to-be-read list.

Football Freddie & Fumble the Dog - Picture Book

Gameday in Green Bay!
It's gameday in Green Bay! Football Freddie and Fumble are on their way to Lambeau Field to cheer for the Packers. But first, they ll stop at Heritage Hill State Park, Oneida Nation Museum, and other historic locations to learn everything they can about Titletown. Come along and cheer with Freddie and Fumble for Green Bay!



Media of Sweet Feet

 Sweet Feet - MG Nonfiction
Ten-year-old Samantha “Sweet Feet” Gordon isn’t just a girl who plays football. She’s also the best player in a league full of boys and has become an online sensation. Known for flying past the defense to reach the end zone 35 times while racking up almost 2,000 yards in one season, Sam’s YouTube highlight reel made her an overnight sensation. Appearing in her own Super Bowl commercial and on ESPN, Good Morning America, and Cartoon Network, Sam’s attitude that girls can do anything, has inspired people across the world, from the U. S. women’s soccer team to NFL greats to other kids just like her. She even got her own Wheaties box—the first one to ever feature a female football player. Sam’s courage on and off the football field has lead her to greatness, but there were times when it wasn’t easy. Readers will hear Sam Gordon’s take on her love of football, her rise to fame, and her hopes for the future in this exciting autobiography full of stories and photos that will inspire all kids to go for their dreams.


Kylie Jean, Football Queen - MG Fiction
Kylie Jean Carter has been waiting for three years to become a Little Dazzler, a junior cheerleader for the high-school's Little Dazzlers, so she can cheer for her brother's high-school football team.



Dairy Queen - YA Fiction
Dairy Queen (Dairy Queen, #1)When you don’t talk, there’s a lot of stuff that ends up not getting said. Harsh words indeed, from Brian Nelson of all people. But, D. J. can’t help admitting, maybe he’s right.

When you don’t talk, there’s a lot of stuff that ends up not getting said. Stuff like why her best friend, Amber, isn’t so friendly anymore. Or why her little brother, Curtis, never opens his mouth. Why her mom has two jobs and a big secret. Why her college-football-star brothers won’t even call home. Why her dad would go ballistic if she tried out for the high school football team herself. And why Brian is so, so out of her league.

When you don’t talk, there’s a lot of stuff that ends up not getting said.
Welcome to the summer that fifteen-year-old D. J. Schwenk of Red Bend, Wisconsin, learns to talk, and ends up having an awful lot of stuff to say.

Catching Jordan - Catching JordanYA Fiction
What girl doesn't want to be surrounded by gorgeous jocks day in and day out? Jordan Woods isn't just surrounded by hot guys, though-she leads them as the captain and quarterback of her high school football team. They all see her as one of the guys and that's just fine. As long as she gets her athletic scholarship to a powerhouse university.

But everything she's ever worked for is threatened when Ty Green moves to her school. Not only is he an amazing QB, but he's also amazingly hot. And for the first time, Jordan's feeling vulnerable. Can she keep her head in the game while her heart's on the line?

Wild Cards (Wild Cards, #1)

Wild Cards - YA Fiction
After getting kicked out of boarding school, bad boy Derek Fitzpatrick has no choice but to live with his ditzy stepmother while his military dad is deployed. Things quickly go from bad to worse when he finds out she plans to move them back to her childhood home in Illinois. Derek’s counting the days before he can be on his own, and the last thing he needs is to get involved with someone else’s family drama.

Ashtyn Parker knows one thing for certain--people you care about leave without a backward glance. A football scholarship would finally give her the chance to leave. So she pours everything into winning a state championship, until her boyfriend and star quarterback betrays them all by joining their rival team. Ashtyn needs a new game plan, but it requires trusting Derek—someone she barely knows, someone born to break the rules. Is she willing to  put her heart on the line to try and win it all?


Throw Like a Girl - YA Fiction

When softball star Liv Rodinsky throws one ill-advised punch during the most important game of the year, she loses her scholarship to her fancy private school, her boyfriend, and her teammates all in one fell swoop. With no other options, Liv is forced to transfer to the nearest public school, Northland, where she'll have to convince its coach she deserves a spot on the softball team, all while facing both her ex and the teammates of the girl she punched.... Every. Single. Day.

Enter Grey, the injured star quarterback with amazing hair and a foolproof plan: If Liv joins the football team as his temporary replacement, he'll make sure she gets a spot on the softball team in the spring. But it will take more than just a flawless spiral for Liv to find acceptance in Northland's halls, and behind that charismatic smile, Grey may not be so perfect after all.


The Football Girl - YA Fiction

The summer before Caleb and Tessa enter high school, friendship has blossomed into a relationship . . . and their playful sports days are coming to an end. Caleb is getting ready to try out for the football team, and Tessa is training for cross-country.
But all their structured plans derail in the final flag game when they lose. Tessa doesn’t want to end her career as a loser. She really enjoys playing, and if she’s being honest, she likes it even more than running cross-country. So what if she decided to play football instead? What would happen between her and Caleb? Or between her two best friends, who are counting on her to try out for cross-country with them? And will her parents be upset that she’s decided to take her hobby to the next level? This summer Caleb and Tessa figure out just what it means to be a boyfriend, girlfriend, teammate, best friend, and someone worth cheering for.


Wednesday, February 3, 2021


Today is National Girls and Women in Sports Day and it's a perfect time to tell you about an interesting Sporty Girl project by Mia Wenjen. Here's a description of the book from Mia's website:

Everyone deserves to see themselves in the pages of a book. Now, Mia Wenjen brings the accomplishments of Asian Pacific American female athletes to life with incredible stories of their amazing accomplishments. Readers rejoice with these extraordinary women as they overcome obstacles to prevail in their sport. [nonfiction picture book, for ages 8 and up]

Changing the Game: Asian Pacific American Female Athletes

For more information about the book and how you can help, check out Pragmatic Mom.

Friday, January 29, 2021

Meet Astrid (and her twin Apollo) for a Camping Adventure! It's Multicultural Children’s Book Day #ReadYourWorld


By Brenda Barrera


We’ve come a long way from the days of the Bobbsey Twins, who were representative of their era that included negative stereotypes, so it’s truly refreshing to meet contemporary twins in an exciting new chapter book series featuring Astrid & Apollo, whose parents were born in Laos and came to the United States as young children.


I was gifted a book published by Capstone Publishing: ASTRID & APOLLO AND THE STARRY CAMPOUT by V.T. Bidania and Illustrated by Dara Lashia Lee. Now, this might not be a traditional sports story, but camping can often lead to activities that are sports-related like hiking, swimming, mountain biking, and the good ‘ole activity of communing with nature. The camping experience is an ideal way for kids to learn to be comfortable spending extended time in the outdoors and take on new, unfamiliar challenges.


From the get-go, even before they’re all in the car, Astrid is afraid. She is hiding in the closet, fearful of what she may encounter on their family overnight camping trip thanks to a friend (known to exaggerate) who has warned Astrid of bears, creepy things, and lots of mosquitos. But one by one, Astrid overcomes her fear of shadows, mosquitos, and dangerous animals stalking in the night. Readers who have camped or had to use an outhouse with no flushing toilet will chuckle as Astrid enters the wooden frame bathroom. Upon the excellent advice of her twin brother, she doesn’t look down but up, noticing all the skinny spiders, flies, and moths flitting about.


Both the author, V.T. Bidania, and illustrator, Dara Lashia Lee, are Hmong Americans who have teamed up to bring a welcoming voice and visual talent (anime) to children’s literature. They deftly weave qualities of Hmong life into the storyline from the food they eat to family traditions. Hmong children should be able to see themselves and their families in everyday experiences — this series certainly fills a need.


Back matter includes facts about the Hmong people, list of popular Hmong foods, glossary of terms, plus classroom activity suggestions for discussion and writing.


A delightful look a favorite pastime through the unique perspective of a young twin that will certainly inspire readers to follow Astrid and Apollo through additional adventures like ASTRID & APOLLO AND THE FISHING FLOP and ASTRID & APOLLO AND THE SOCCER CELEBRATION.



Multicultural Children’s Book Day 2021 (1/29/21) is in its 8th 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.


Eight 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. Read about our Mission & History HERE.





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