Springing Baseball On YA!

I really enjoyed A Strong Right Arm: The Story of Mamie Peanut Johnson by Michelle Green and thought I’d follow up with a few more baseball books.

The Indianapolis ABC’s history of a premier team in the Negro Leagues by Paul Debono The Indianapolis ABCs were formed around the turn of the century, playing company teams from around the city; they soon played other teams in Indiana, including some white teams. Their emergence coincided with the remarkable growth of black baseball, and by 1916 the ABCs won their first major championship. (adult crossover)

The Laura Line by Crystal Allen Tween readers who loved the warmth and humor Crystal Allen brought to How Lamar’s Bad Prank Won a Bubba-Sized Trophy will find the same winning combination in her new middle-grade novel, The Laura Line. Ages 8-12

Thirteen-year-old Laura Dyson wants two things in life: to be accepted by her classmates and to be noticed by ultra-cute baseball star Troy Bailey. But everyone at school makes fun of her for being overweight, and Troy won’t give her a second glance.

But a school assignment changes that. Laura is forced to learn the history of the slave shack on her grandmother’s property, and she discovers she comes from a line of strong African-American women. Through understanding her roots, Laura finds the self-esteem she’s been missing.

Mo’ne Davis: Remember My Name: My story from First Pitch to Game Changer by Mo’ne Davis In August 2014, 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, and a month later she earned a place in the National Baseball Hall of Fame. She was thirteen years old. (ages 8-12)

Baseball Saved Us by Ken Mochizuki Shorty and his family, along with thousands of Japanese Americans, are sent to an internment camp after the attack on Pearl Harbor. Fighting the heat and dust of the desert, Shorty and his father decide to build a baseball diamond and form a league in order to boost the spirits of the internees. Shorty quickly learns that he is playing not only to win, but to gain dignity and self-respect as well.

Baseball Saved Us is the ultimate rite of passage story. It will appeal again and again to readers who enjoy cheering for the underdog. (ages 6-12)

Home is Everything: The Latino Baseball Story: From the Bario to the Major Leagues by Marcos Breton and Jose Luis Villegas Roberto Clemente, Minnie Minoso, Orlando Cepeda, Miguel Tejada and José Santana. These men are the immortals, the pioneers, the famous, the soon-to-be famous and the forgotten ones. They know that home is everything—home is the barrio where they improvised baseball on unpaved streets and sandlots; home is home plate where the batter stands waiting for the next pitch, where runs are scored and games are won; and home is the magical ballparks of major league baseball where they dream to play. Villegas’ wonderful full-color photographs, with Breton’s companion bilingual text, reveal the essence of the Latino ballplayers’ journey: the struggles, dis-appointments and the sometimes enormous successes. The book features the journey of Miguel Tejada, All-Star shortstop for the Oakland Athletics, from his barrio in the Dominican Republic through his 2002 breakout year. The photographs let us witness the barrios where the dreaming begins, the young dreamers who will never leave their home, the major league facilities where young players learn English and gringo baseball, the forgotten players playing semi-pro in the Bronx and keeping their dreams alive, Latinos struggling through the foreign world of the minor leagues, the major leaguers and the immortals. (ages 12 and up)

Baseball in April and Other Stories by Gary Soto The Mexican American author Gary Soto draws on his own experience of growing up in California’s Central Valley in this finely crafted collection of eleven short stories that reveal big themes in the small events of daily life. Crooked teeth, ponytailed girls, embarrassing grandfathers, imposter Barbies, annoying brothers, Little League tryouts, and karate lessons weave the colorful fabric of Soto’s world. The smart, tough, vulnerable kids in these stories are Latino, but their dreams and desires belong to all of us. Glossary of Spanish terms included. (ages 8-12)

Awards: ALA Best Book for Young Adults, Booklist Editors’ Choice, Horn Book Fanfare Selection, Judy Lopez Memorial Honor Book, Parenting Magazine’s Reading Magic Award, John and Patricia Beatty Award

We Are the Ship: The Story of Negro League Baseball by Kadir Nelson

The story of Negro League baseball is the story of gifted athletes and determined owners; of racial discrimination and international sportsmanship; of fortunes won and lost; of triumphs and defeats on and off the field. It is a perfect mirror for the social and political history of black America in the first half of the twentieth century. But most of all, the story of the Negro Leagues is about hundreds of unsung heroes who overcame segregation, hatred, terrible conditions, and low pay to do the one thing they loved more than anything else in the world: play ball. (ages 8 and up)

Using an “Everyman” player as his narrator, Kadir Nelson tells the story of Negro League baseball from its beginnings in the 1920s through its decline after Jackie Robinson crossed over to the majors in 1947. The voice is so authentic, you will feel as if you are sitting on dusty bleachers listening intently to the memories of a man who has known the great ballplayers of that time and shared their experiences. But what makes this book so outstanding are the dozens of full-page and double-page oil paintings-breathtaking in their perspectives, rich in emotion, and created with understanding and affection for these lost heroes of our national game.

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