Wednesday, August 25, 2021

Fast Pitch

Stone, Nic. Fast Pitch
August 31st 2021 by Crown Books for Young Readers
E ARC provided by Netgalley

Shenice "Lightning" Lockwood is a catcher and team captain for the Dixie Youth Softball Association fastpitch softball team, the Fulton Firebirds. They are the first all-Black team in the league, which is a big deal since they live in Georgia. Shenice's father played ball but was sidelined with an injury, her grandfather played ball, and even her great grandfather played. "Jumpin'" JonJon Lockwood was kicked out of the Atlanta Black Crackers team in the Negro Southern League in the 1940s for reasons that Shenice's family doesn't quite know. The one person who does know is great uncle Jack, JonJon's brother, who is in a nursing facility and very ill. Shenice visits, and gets a lot of information from him after her father finally lets her see some of JonJon's artifacts after her team does very well in a competition. Tired of dealing with the ingrained racism in her sport and hostility on the field, Shenice is very interested in finding out what happened to her great grandfather. Investigating sometimes gets her in trouble, as when she is injured while investigating a run down house where she thinks Jack hid some things, and she still has her ball season to worry about. 
Strengths: It's always good to see girls in sports, and the dynamics of a team sport are even more interesting. Add some historical information about baseball, and this is a book that will be very popular. This is also on trend with dealing with a number of racial issues, and again, bringing in issues from the past helps to highlight how far our society has NOT come. This is a good length with a fantastic cover and will be hugely popular with my students. 
Weaknesses: Just one ridiculously picky historical thought: A package, hidden in 1946, is covered in the kind of plastic wrap used to cover leftovers. This wouldn't have been available at that time, although perhaps the box was covered later. The plastic is depicted later as having hardened; the roll of plastic wrap someone foolishly gave me for my first apartment didn't harden-- but after 15 years got all slimy and stuck to itself. Middle grade readers are never going to pick this up, but I would have preferred that the box have not been covered, or had been wrapped in paper. 
What I really think: Fans of Johnson's The Parker Inheritance will enjoy this mixture of sports and history, and it's a great starting point for students who might get interested in researching more about the Negro Leagues. 

Still think I could be a poster child for Lands End, but they probably wouldn't be happy that I buy all of their stuff secondhand. Love it when I find pieces that coordinate. Bicentennial necklace.

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