Mamie “Peanut” Johnson broke gender barriers playing in the Negro League in the 1950s.
Through informative prose and muscular illustrations, Mamie emerges as both small in stature and larger than life. Standing 5 feet, 4 inches tall and weighing in at 120 pounds, Mamie was frequently underestimated due to her small size and gender but consistently proved skeptics wrong with her strong right arm. She even joined the all-white, all-boys Long Branch Police Athletic League in New Jersey while still a preteen, overcoming her teammates’ snickers and helping them win two championships. She was unable to prove her worth for the All-American Girls Professional Baseball League, which denied black women the opportunity to play. On the urging of a former Negro League player, Mamie won a spot on the Indianapolis Clowns at 19, eventually pitching her way to a 33-8 record in her three-season career. The artwork deftly works with the text to provide a memorable reading experience, Mamie’s enthusiasm and determination shining from every page. Images of Mamie facing down white and/or male hostility alternate with scenes of prowess and accomplishment. This compelling story of breaking barriers and perseverance is timely and essential; it will pair well with She Loved Baseball, by Audrey Vernick and illustrated by Don Tate (2010).
An incredible tribute to an African American woman who dismantled racial and gender obstacles amid the civil rights movement. (afterword, notes, bibliography) (Picture book/biography. 5-9)