cover image GIRL WONDER: A Baseball Story in Nine Innings

GIRL WONDER: A Baseball Story in Nine Innings

Deborah Hopkinson, D. Hopkinson, , illus. by Terry Widener. . Atheneum/Schwartz, $16.95 (40pp) ISBN 978-0-689-83300-7

Widener (The Babe & I; Lou Gehrig: The Luckiest Man) makes a triumphant return to the baseball diamond with his acrylic artwork—at once playful and emotionally authentic—spotlighting another praiseworthy player from the past. His animated, period paintings are in perfect pitch with the winning tone of Hopkinson's (Fannie in the Kitchen) story, relayed in the voice of "girl wonder" Alta Weiss. Growing up on an Ohio farm in the early 1900s, the girl aims at a target on a bale of hay as she practices her pitching in the barn, where the cows "turned their saucer eyes to watch me—my first fans!" As a teen, she talks her way onto an all-male semipro baseball team, slyly convincing the coach that ticket-buyers will turn out "to see a girl play." Pitching to the first batter in her debut game, Alta endearingly attempts to calm her nerves when all eyes are on her and the count is full: " 'No different from my fans in the barn,' I tell myself." During her first and a subsequent season, the heroine says, "I... always held my own against the best." She then moves on to score in another admirable field after completing medical school as the only female in her graduating class. Cleverly organized into nine brief "innings," this graphically rich, rewarding tale will inspire readers—on several counts. Ages 5-8. (Mar.)