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GIRL WONDER by Deborah Hopkinson Kirkus Star

GIRL WONDER

A Baseball Story in Nine Innings

By Deborah Hopkinson (Author) , Terry Widener (Illustrator)

Age Range: 4 - 9

Pub Date: March 1st, 2003
ISBN: 0-689-83300-8
Publisher: Anne Schwartz/Atheneum

A winning author-illustrator team hits a home run with this top-notch tale about Alta Weiss, who played semi-pro baseball in early 1900s. Hopkinson (Our Kansas Home, Feb. 2003, etc.) takes facts from an adult nonfiction book, Women at Play, by Barbara Gregorich, and fictionalizes them just enough to craft a compelling story. With a hint of tall-tale exaggeration, Weiss’s conversational first-person voice draws images from country life and slang from baseball. “I could read his line of thinking, clear as a catcher’s signs,” Alta observes about her new coach. Widener’s (The Twins and the Bird of Darkness, 2002, etc.) rounded, oversized figures have a legendary quality that perfectly suits the language and setting, and accurately reflect Weiss’s change of uniform from a dress in her first year to bloomers later on. In the elegant design, generous white space frames the acrylic paintings, which vary in perspective and size from humorous close-ups to a team line-up on the endpapers. Baseballs with inning numbers unobtrusively divide the story into nine parts. As a fitting end to a remarkable story, Weiss is shown following in her father’s footsteps to become a doctor, the only female in her class of 1914. A pleasure to look at and read aloud, this concludes with a timeline about women in baseball and, on the back cover, a wonderful black-and-white photograph of Alta Weiss preparing to pitch. (Picture book. 4-9)