When Alta Weiss throws a corncob at a tomcat chasing her favorite hen, folks know one thing for sure: she may be a girl, but she's got some arm. At the age of six Alta can nail any target, and by seventeen she's outpitched every boy in town. Then one day her father takes Alta to Vermilion, Ohio -- home of the semipro baseball team called the Independents. "Where do I sign up?" she asks. But one look at Alta tells the coach all he needs to know: She's a girl, and girls can't play baseball. But faster than you can say "strike out," Alta proves him wrong: Girls can play baseball!
From School Library Journal
Grade 1-3-A fictional picture book based on the life of Alta Weiss, who at the age of 17 was the first female to pitch baseball for a semipro all-male team, the Vermilion Independents. Hopkinson does an outstanding job of highlighting the young woman's drive and ambition, not letting gender interfere with her goals. "Just sign me up, Coach.- And as sure as `Strike Out' is my middle name, I guarantee you'll sell lots of tickets. Folks are curious to see a girl play." Time divisions within the story are indicated by a ball-and-bat insignia showing the first through the ninth innings. The last page has a time line of women in baseball. A full-page, black-and-white photo of Weiss, ready for the pitch, decorates the back cover. Widener's distinctive acrylic paintings in vivid colors and with exaggerated features further express the strength of this book. Other titles, such as Diana Helmer's Belles of the Ballpark (Millbrook, 1993; o.p.) and Sue Macy's A Whole New Ball Game (Holt, 1995), cover American Girls Professional Leagues, but do not mention Weiss, who played on a men's team. Purchase where there is an audience of girls who play Little League.
Blair Christolon, Prince William Public Library System, Manassas, VA.
Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information, Inc.
Gr. 2-4. "Nothing could keep me from baseball . . . By the time I was seventeen I'd struck out every boy in town." In prose that reflects the easy rhythms of balls and strikes, Hopkinson tells the story of teenager Alta Weiss, who in 1907 pitched for a semipro all-male team in Ohio. Alta's first-person narrative begins with her own memory of playing catch, and her family's image of her throwing a corn cob at a barn cat at the age of two. Alta practices, plays, and wins over the crowd in her first game. That summer she's the draw of her team, the Independents; people come to see "Girl Wonder" play. She plays a second season, but then she goes on to medical school (the only female in the class of 1914). Hopkinson enriches her burnished prose with an author's note about the real Alta Weiss and a chronology of women in baseball. Widener's exaggerated faces and rubbery-looking bodies are set in a picture plane of bright acrylics, where a bat or glove might pop out over the edge: a logo of ball and bats marks the innings of Alta's life. There's a sturdy charm to Alta's voice, and an unmistakable passion for the game. The black-and-white photograph on the back of the dust jacket brings added dimension to the story of a young woman who follows her dreams. GraceAnne DeCandido
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