GIRL WONDER

A BASEBALL STORY IN NINE INNINGS

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)

Pub Date: March 1, 2003

ISBN: 0-689-83300-8

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Anne Schwartz/Atheneum

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 2003

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Good fun for all little ninjas and their parents.

NAUGHTY NINJA TAKES A BATH

After swinging out from the jungle after a long day of ninja-ing, Will makes his way home just in time for a bath. But as all ninjas know, danger lurks around every corner.

Even naughty ninjas get hungry, but Dad says, “Pee-yew,” and insists his little ninja get clean before going near a morsel. Ever the Naughty Ninja, Will follows his dad into the bathroom and immediately spies danger: Poisonous flies that have followed him from the jungle! As any parent would, his dad begs him not to say, “Ninja to the rescue,” because we all know what comes after a catchphrase…chaos! Through each increasingly rough rescue, Dad finds himself more and more defeated in his quest to complete bathtime, but ultimately he starts to find the infectious joy that only the ridiculousness of children can bring out in an adult. The art is bright and finds some nifty ninja perspectives that use the space well. It also places an interracial family at its center: Dad has brown skin and dark, puffy hair, and Mom is a white redhead; when out of his ninja cowl, Will looks like a slightly lighter-skinned version of his father. Kids will laugh at everything the dad is put through, and parents will knowingly nod, because we have all had nights with little ninjas soaking the bathroom floor. The book starts out a little text heavy but finds its groove quickly, reading smoothly going forward. Lots of action means it’s best not to save this one for bedtime.

Good fun for all little ninjas and their parents. (Picture book. 4-8)

Pub Date: Jan. 1, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-5420-9433-7

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Two Lions

Review Posted Online: Sept. 15, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 1, 2019

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AMAZING GRACE

Grace loves to act out her favorite stories, taking every part from Joan of Arc to Mowgli. But when her class learns that they will be doing Peter Pan, the other kids tell Grace she can't have the lead: Peter's neither black nor a girl. Fortunately, Nana and Ma have contagious confidence in Grace's ability, and at the tryouts the class also agrees that Grace is best. It's easy to catch the wholesomely assertive spirit here—as Binch does, in this excellent debut, with her detailed, realistic watercolors; vibrant Grace almost springs from the page. (Picture book. 4-8)

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 1991

ISBN: 0-8037-1040-2

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Dial Books

Review Posted Online: June 24, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 1991

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