Players in Pigtails by Shana Corey, illustrated by Rebecca Gibbon (2003).
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(I know, I’m always talking about Shana Corey‘s historical lady books but this one is another homerun! For real.) Our main character in this case, Katie Casey, isn’t a historical figure. EXCEPT.
1.) Her name is in the lyrics of “Take Me Out to the Ball Game.”
“Katie Casey was baseball mad.
Had the fever and had it bad;…
On a Saturday her young bea
Called to see if she’d like to go
To see a show, but Miss Kate said…
“No, I’ll tell you what you can do.
Take me out to the ball game…'”
2.) There used to be an All-American Girls Professional Baseball League. Yeah, baseball. A la A League of Their Own.
So while Katie Casey isn’t a historical figure, she’s representative of historical women, the ones during World War II who played baseball while the boys fought overseas.
“She preferred home runs to homecoming.” And when boys said, “What good is baseball to a girl?” it didn’t sway Katie from trying out from their team. And then, Mr. Wrigley created one for her and others like her that lasted from 1943-1954. Woo hoo!
I love how the girls and ladies prove the skeptics wrong in their first game. I love the way Shana Corey spins a story. And I love Rebecca Gibbon’s handwriting that plays throughout her lovely, lovely colored pencil drawings.
Thanks to Rebecca Gibbon for images!
Brothers at Bat: The True Story of an Amazing All-Brother Baseball Team by Audrey Vernick, illustrated by Steven Salerno (2012).
And now we turn to the boys. A whole family of them. The 12 brothers Acerra who all played baseball in the 30s, 40s, and 50s. (They weren’t actually the only all brother team, but they played the longest of any other.)
In 1938, the oldest nine of the brothers started a semi-pro team with their name on it. The next year, the Acerra clan was honored at the World’s Fair for being the biggest family in New Jersey (there were some girls too). They got to fly in a real, live airplane to go.
The illustrations capture the vibe of the times, the camaraderie of brothers, and the feeling of warm days and baseball. Six brothers served in WWII and all six returned home safe. So they could get back to being brothers filling the field.
And a photo of the real Accerras. Be sure to check out Steven Salerno’s blog post on the process of art-making for the book, complete with more sketches, photos, and alternate book covers!
Thanks to Steven Salerno for the images!