Wednesday, May 02, 2018

Out of Left Field

36025369Klages, Ellen. Out of Left Field
May 1st 2018 by Viking Books for Young Readers
ARC provided by publisher at ALA

Ten-year-old Katy is a fantastic pitcher, so great that a local Little League coach encourages her to sign up for the team. She does, but of course in 1957, girls aren't allowed to play baseball. Her mother, a university professor of nuclear chemistry, lets her know that it's a battle she can fight, but she probably won't win. The mother was a victim of McCarthy era politics who lost her job, friends, and marriage because she refused to give in to the demands of the communist witch hunt, so she knows that being right doesn't always make life easy. Still, Katy does a lot of difficult research on female baseball players, finds lots of good reasons why girls SHOULD play baseball, and tries to make her point with the Little League authorities. At the same time, her classmates are obsessed with Sputnick, her class gets a homework assignment that is watching a television program, and Katy's older sisters help her navigate life and school.
Strengths: There was a lot of information about women who played baseball, and the brief biographies of twelve at the back of the book were fascinating. I appreciated that Katy channeled her anger into constructive activism, and since she was doing all of this in 1957, she was able to write to or meet some of the women players. There were plenty of details about life during that time period. This will be a great addition to the historical fiction unit our 7th grade does.
Weaknesses: This book contained a LOT of information to process. While the facts about Sputnick and the overview of racial problems at the time (there is a Japanese-American student in Katy's class who tells about the internment situation during WWII, and mention of the Civil Rights occurrences as well) are tremendously important and interesting, combined with the wealth of information about women in baseball, it is a lot to understand for readers who may have no background knowledge of this time period.
What I really think: Definitely purchasing and will suggest this heavily to my baseball fans.

Ms. Yingling

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