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by Angela Johnson & illustrated by Beth Peck

Age Range: 6 - 9

Pub Date: Jan. 1st, 2004
ISBN: 0-689-82628-1
Publisher: Simon & Schuster

Peck’s strong, evocative pastels with their vintage look are just right for Johnson’s home run of a story. A girl tells of her Grandmama’s birth and how her dad said his new baby would play just like the great Negro League catcher Josh Gibson. And so she did, practicing her hitting even though girls didn’t play baseball in the ’50s—except for one Fourth of July, when her cousin Danny’s injury leaves an opening on his team. Grandmama hit the ball, caught the ball, and stole home—“just like Josh Gibson.” The action takes place in memory, while the girl and her grandmother sit at a kitchen table with a photograph, bat, glove, and ball. An end note offers a brief bio of Gibson and makes reference to two female players who also have splendid picture books about them: Alta Weiss, who played pro ball in Deborah Hopkinson’s Girl Wonder: A Baseball Story in Nine Innings (p. 232) and Jackie Mitchell, who struck out Babe Ruth and Lou Gehrig back-to-back in Marissa Moss’s upcoming Mighty Jackie, the Strike-out Queen. Johnson never disappoints; in this one memory, family stories and baseball braid together a sweetly powerful and slyly subversive tale. (Picture book. 6-9)