It was a time when girls jumped rope and played hopscotch, all while wearing dresses.
In this lightly fictionalized account of a historic figure, Kathryn Johnston loves baseball and is very good at the game, but she cannot play on a Little League team. She practices and plays on sandlots whenever she can and listens to Yankees games with her dad. Finally she decides to try something daring. She asks her mom to cut her hair short and borrows her brother’s pants and cap, briefly trying out for a Little League team as a boy, “Tubby” Johnston. She makes the team and plays well, but the pretense is hard to maintain. Eventually she tells the coach, who recognizes her skills and keeps her on the team. The next year, 1951, Little League institutes a rule banning girls from eligibility “under any conditions.” It wasn’t until 1974 that the ban was lifted. Lang tells the tale in a direct and sympathetic manner, without maudlin sentimentality or anger, instead stressing Kathryn’s love of baseball and her strength of character. Puglesi’s bright cartoons have the look of the mid-20th century, depicting the characters, all white, with very large round eyes in heads that are larger than their bodies while still conveying subtle changes in emotions. Young readers are introduced to an admirable woman.
Hooray for Kathryn, who made her quiet mark on baseball. (author’s note, timeline, acknowledgements) (Picture book. 6-10)