A STRONG RIGHT ARM

THE STORY OF MAMIE “PEANUT” JOHNSON

By chance, the author visited the newly opened Negro Leagues Baseball Shop in Maryland and discovered that there really were women who played professional baseball—and one of them was right there in the store. She was smart enough to ask Mamie Johnson if anyone had ever written her story and smart enough to grab at the chance. The result is at once unique, yet sadly representative of the hold racism had on every facet of society. From the time she was a young child, Mamie just wanted to play baseball. She had been taught to play like the boys, and her pitching ability had far surpassed most of the youngsters she played with and against. As she grew older, she had to constantly overcome the double prejudice of gender and race, but she usually managed to find a way to play. When Jackie Robinson broke the color barrier in major league baseball in 1947, teams quickly began raiding the Negro Leagues for their best talent. It was at this time that Mamie and two other black women were contracted to play in the Negro Leagues. Although it was initially an economic decision made to boost gate receipts, the women made the most of the opportunity and were wildly popular. It was there that Mamie was given her nickname of “Peanut,” a reference to her small size. Mamie is a strong, feisty woman who is—rightfully—immensely proud of her place in baseball history. She has formed the They Played Baseball Foundation to allow former Negro League players to pass on their vast knowledge of baseball. Green has wisely allowed her to tell the story in her own voice, a charming and personable one. The reader is richer for the opportunity of meeting Mamie in this poignant and fascinating story of a great lady. (Biography. 10-14)

Pub Date: July 1, 2002

ISBN: 0-8037-2661-9

Page Count: 128

Publisher: Dial Books

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 2002

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An endearing protagonist runs the first, fast leg of Reynolds' promising relay.

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GHOST

From the Track series , Vol. 1

Castle “Ghost” Cranshaw feels like he’s been running ever since his dad pulled that gun on him and his mom—and used it.

His dad’s been in jail three years now, but Ghost still feels the trauma, which is probably at the root of the many “altercations” he gets into at middle school. When he inserts himself into a practice for a local elite track team, the Defenders, he’s fast enough that the hard-as-nails coach decides to put him on the team. Ghost is surprised to find himself caring enough about being on the team that he curbs his behavior to avoid “altercations.” But Ma doesn’t have money to spare on things like fancy running shoes, so Ghost shoplifts a pair that make his feet feel impossibly light—and his conscience correspondingly heavy. Ghost’s narration is candid and colloquial, reminiscent of such original voices as Bud Caldwell and Joey Pigza; his level of self-understanding is both believably childlike and disarming in its perception. He is self-focused enough that secondary characters initially feel one-dimensional, Coach in particular, but as he gets to know them better, so do readers, in a way that unfolds naturally and pleasingly. His three fellow “newbies” on the Defenders await their turns to star in subsequent series outings. Characters are black by default; those few white people in Ghost’s world are described as such.

An endearing protagonist runs the first, fast leg of Reynolds' promising relay. (Fiction. 10-14)

Pub Date: Aug. 30, 2016

ISBN: 978-1-4814-5015-7

Page Count: 192

Publisher: Caitlyn Dlouhy/Atheneum

Review Posted Online: July 20, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2016

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DRAMA

From award winner Telgemeier (Smile, 2010), a pitch-perfect graphic novel portrayal of a middle school musical, adroitly capturing the drama both on and offstage.

Seventh-grader Callie Marin is over-the-moon to be on stage crew again this year for Eucalyptus Middle School’s production of Moon over Mississippi. Callie's just getting over popular baseball jock and eighth-grader Greg, who crushed her when he left Callie to return to his girlfriend, Bonnie, the stuck-up star of the play. Callie's healing heart is quickly captured by Justin and Jesse Mendocino, the two very cute twins who are working on the play with her. Equally determined to make the best sets possible with a shoestring budget and to get one of the Mendocino boys to notice her, the immensely likable Callie will find this to be an extremely drama-filled experience indeed. The palpably engaging and whip-smart characterization ensures that the charisma and camaraderie run high among those working on the production. When Greg snubs Callie in the halls and misses her reference to Guys and Dolls, one of her friends assuredly tells her, "Don't worry, Cal. We’re the cool kids….He's the dork." With the clear, stylish art, the strongly appealing characters and just the right pinch of drama, this book will undoubtedly make readers stand up and cheer.

Brava!  (Graphic fiction. 10-14)

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 2012

ISBN: 978-0-545-32698-8

Page Count: 240

Publisher: Graphix/Scholastic

Review Posted Online: July 22, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2012

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