From School Library Journal
Kindergarten-Grade 3–This anecdotal tale is based on the childhood of Marcenia Toni Stone Lyle Alberga (1921-1996), who became the first woman to play professional baseball. As a girl, Marcenia dreams only of playing baseball, while her strict but loving parents suggest that she stick to dolls and focus on school. One night she overhears them ruefully acknowledge the limited options that lie in store for most African-American girls: teaching, nursing, or being a maid. Marcenia promises herself that she'll achieve her goal. Opportunity arrives in the form of Gabby Street, manager of the St. Louis Cardinals, who runs a free baseball camp for kids. He's impressed by her talent, but doesn't allow girls to participate. The story ends with her acceptance into the camp and her determination to make her dream come true. An afterword sums up Lyle's name change and her career, including the fact that she filled the spot vacated by Hank Aaron when he joined the Major Leagues. Hubbard's lively text does a fine job of capturing this young heroine's unquenchable spirit. DuBurke's balanced pen-and-ink and acrylic artwork strongly supports the mood and emotion of the text. Much like its winsome, pigtailed heroine, this heartwarming picture book will inspire and engage dreamers young and old.–Marilyn Taniguchi, Beverly Hills Public Library, CA
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PreS-Gr. 2. In her torn dress and street shoes, Marcenia, who is growing up in the 1920s, bests many of the boys on her baseball team. But her father criticizes her "tomboy" interests, and a scout for a local baseball camp refuses to accept a girl on the team. Marcenia vows to play hard and change the scout's mind, and she finally wins a spot on the team. An afterword explains that Marcenia grew up to become Toni Stone, the first woman to play for a professional baseball team. Hubbard never clarifies which parts of the story, rich in dialogue and detail, are based on true events. She does, however, write with sensory precision that conveys the thrilling feel of playing ("the powdery taste of dust clouds"; "the sting" of a baseball slamming into a mitt), while DuBurke's textured ink and acrylic images emphasize Marcenia's excitement on the field and yearning at home. Children, especially girls, will cheer for Marcenia as she defies the narrow expectations for young women of the time and fiercely pursues her dream. Gillian EngbergCopyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved