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Girl Wonder : A Baseball Story in Nine Innings Hardcover – March 1, 2003

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Editorial Reviews

From School Library Journal

Grade 1-3-A fictional picture book based on the life of Alta Weiss, who at the age of 17 was the first female to pitch baseball for a semipro all-male team, the Vermilion Independents. Hopkinson does an outstanding job of highlighting the young woman's drive and ambition, not letting gender interfere with her goals. "Just sign me up, Coach.- And as sure as `Strike Out' is my middle name, I guarantee you'll sell lots of tickets. Folks are curious to see a girl play." Time divisions within the story are indicated by a ball-and-bat insignia showing the first through the ninth innings. The last page has a time line of women in baseball. A full-page, black-and-white photo of Weiss, ready for the pitch, decorates the back cover. Widener's distinctive acrylic paintings in vivid colors and with exaggerated features further express the strength of this book. Other titles, such as Diana Helmer's Belles of the Ballpark (Millbrook, 1993; o.p.) and Sue Macy's A Whole New Ball Game (Holt, 1995), cover American Girls Professional Leagues, but do not mention Weiss, who played on a men's team. Purchase where there is an audience of girls who play Little League.
Blair Christolon, Prince William Public Library System, Manassas, VA
Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information, Inc.

From Booklist

Gr. 2-4. "Nothing could keep me from baseball . . . By the time I was seventeen I'd struck out every boy in town." In prose that reflects the easy rhythms of balls and strikes, Hopkinson tells the story of teenager Alta Weiss, who in 1907 pitched for a semipro all-male team in Ohio. Alta's first-person narrative begins with her own memory of playing catch, and her family's image of her throwing a corn cob at a barn cat at the age of two. Alta practices, plays, and wins over the crowd in her first game. That summer she's the draw of her team, the Independents; people come to see "Girl Wonder" play. She plays a second season, but then she goes on to medical school (the only female in the class of 1914). Hopkinson enriches her burnished prose with an author's note about the real Alta Weiss and a chronology of women in baseball. Widener's exaggerated faces and rubbery-looking bodies are set in a picture plane of bright acrylics, where a bat or glove might pop out over the edge: a logo of ball and bats marks the innings of Alta's life. There's a sturdy charm to Alta's voice, and an unmistakable passion for the game. The black-and-white photograph on the back of the dust jacket brings added dimension to the story of a young woman who follows her dreams. GraceAnne DeCandido
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved

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Product Details

  • Age Range: 5 and up
  • Lexile Measure: 380L (What's this?)
  • Series: Jane Addams Honor Book (Awards)
  • Hardcover: 40 pages
  • Publisher: Atheneum Books for Young Readers; 1 edition (March 1, 2003)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0689833008
  • ISBN-13: 978-0689833007
  • Product Dimensions: 11.3 x 8.4 x 0.4 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 14.2 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (10 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #513,837 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Deborah Hopkinson is as award-winning of picture books, fiction, and nonfiction for young readers. In 2013 she received a Robert F. Sibert Honor and YALSA Excellence in Nonfiction Award honor for Titanic: Voices from the Disaster.

She has won the SCBWI Golden Kite Award for Picture Book Text twice, for A Band of Angels and Apples to Oregon. Sky Boys, How They Built the Empire State Building, was a Boston Globe/Horn Book Honor awardee. She lives near Portland, Oregon.

The Great Trouble, A Mystery of London, the Blue Death, and a Boy Called Eel won the OCTE Oregon Spirit Award and was named a Best Book of 2013 by School Library Journal and an Oregon Book Award finalist.

Deborah's forthcoming books in 2015-16 include: nonfiction about WWII entitled Courage & Defiance; Beatrix Potter and the Unfortunate Tale of a Borrowed Guinea Pig, illustrated by Charlotte Voake; a middle grade novel called A Bandit's Tale, The Muddled Misadventures of a Pickpocket; a picture book about sea turtles called Follow the Moon Home (with Philippe Cousteau), and a historical fiction picture book entitled Steamboat School, illustrated by Ron Husband.

Visit her on the web at and follow her on Twitter at @deborahopkinson.

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

8 of 8 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on March 2, 2003
Format: Hardcover
My daughter began playing ball in third grade. She loves this book. The illustrations are fun yet convey a sense of the time period. And the story is great for reading aloud. The best part is seeing a photograph of the real Alta Weiss, the Girl Wonder, on the back cover. That seems to make it real for kids. I am a teacher and I do a unit on women's history every March and will definitely include Girl Wonder on my list of books to read to my students.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By Amazon Customer on October 24, 2003
Format: Hardcover
My daughter was attracted to the cover and title of this book. She immediately read it to herself, then asked to read it aloud to me. She loved the story (as well as the adorable pictures) of how a girl was born to play baseball...even though she was the only female on the team. I would highly recommend this book to any girl or boy who would enjoy reading about one smart and determined young lady.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on May 17, 2003
Format: Hardcover
Girl Wonder is the winner of a 2003 Parents Choice Gold Award. As a teacher and parent, I rely on the Parents Choice award books. This is a great book to read aloud. If your daughter plays ball, read her this book. The photograph of the real Alta Weiss on the back cover is awesome.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By K. Wilson on July 6, 2005
Format: Hardcover
Girl Wonder: A Baseball Story in Nine Innings is a fictional story based on the life of Alta Weiss. Alta played baseball from the time she was a little girl, and in 1907, at the age of 17, she proved that girls could play baseball when she became the pitcher of the semipro all-male team, the Vermillion Independents. The author's note tells readers some details about Alta's life and the final page of the book outlines highlights of women in baseball from 1866 to 2001.

This book would be appropriate for children ages 8 and 9. Children in this age group are beginning to develop an interest in history and biographies, as well as an interest in sports books, and they will enjoy hearing a story about this element of the history of baseball. I would read this book to children in a school setting as part of a section either on women's history, the history of women in baseball, or general baseball history. The illustrations, rendered in acrylic paint, are simple but enjoyable. They show children the types of outfits people would wear to play baseball almost a century ago. Each stage of the story is marked with a bat and ball image displaying innings one through nine. The endpapers feature drawings of the entire Vermillion Independents team. The back cover of the book has an original photo of Alta Weiss playing baseball. Children will enjoy being able to see this real image of the hero they are reading about.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Ohioan on December 19, 2011
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
This is the picture book version of the true story of Alta Weiss, an Ohio girl, daughter of a country doctor. Alta grew up playing baseball in the very early 1900s. She was a pitcher on her high school baseball team and after she graduated her father bought her a semi-pro baseball team. Alta and the Weiss All-Stars traveled throughout Ohio, with Alta such an attraction that she drew standing-room-only crowds as she struck out male batters left and right. She even pitched in Cleveland's major league stadium.

Hopkinson and Widener combine to make this wonderful story even more fun than it actually was. Hopkinson tells the story in Alta's first-person voice, capturing her youthful outlook. And Widener portrays Alta, her surroundings, and the male players beautifully. A Must Read Book for girls and for boys.
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