Emily Arnold McCully, Author and Illustrator
Farrar Straus Giroux Books, Biography, Feb. 17, 2015
Suitable for Ages: 5-8 years
Themes: Lizzie Murphy, Baseball, Women baseball players
Opening: “In 1900, baseball was America’s national pastime…In Warren, Rhode Island, there were several amateur teams and Lizzie Murphy followed all of them. Her father had played on one as a young man. Her brother, Henry, was a shortstop on one of the best boys’ teams. To sharpen his game, he played catch with Lizzie.”
Book Jacket Synopsis: Lizzie Murphy was good at baseball. In fact, she was better than most of the boys. But she was born in 1894, and everyone said baseball was not a game for girls.
Lizzie practiced with her brother anyway, and then she talked her way onto the local boys’ team, first as a batboy, then as a player. Everyone was impressed by her hard catches and fast pitches. By the time she turned fifteen, she playing for two different amateur boy’s teams. When she turned eighteen, Lizzie did something else that women didn’t do, she signed with a professional baseball team determined to earn her living playing the game.
Why I like this book:
- It’s time to play ball and I can’t think of a more inspiring story to share than Emily Arnold McCully’s Queen of the Diamond. Lizzie Murphy’s true story can only happen in America. It is historically accurate to the 1900 time period.
- The story is definitely character-driven with Lizzy, a strong, self-confident and determined eight-year-old, who believes in herself, her abilities and follows her dream to play a boy’s game. Lizzy defies the social mores of the time. Her father is supportive, her mother says “It’s not a game for girls.”
- McCully also shows the inequality that Lizzie faces when she is signed with a major league team. Even though Lizzie is a phenomenon, draws large crowds and fans, the manager won’t pay her. She confronts him, demands equal pay and her team supports her. Professional baseball is her job for the next 17 years and she’s paid the same as men.
- The narrative is a bit wordy, but it doesn’t feel inappropriate for the time period. In fact I wanted to know the detail. I loved baseball as a girl and could catch a mean hardball. I would have worn out the pages in this book if I had a copy.
- McCully’s acrylic pen and ink drawings are warm, expressive and emotive. She captures the attire worn during the early 20th Century. Lizzie plays baseball in dresses and wears high-topped laced shoes.
Resources/Activities: There is a very interesting Author’s Note at the end about Lizzie and women playing baseball. Take children to a baseball game, if they’ve never attended a game. If they are interested in playing, sign them up for local Little League team. More girls are showing interest in playing Little League. There are also Softball Little Leagues for girls. Visit Emily Arnold McCully at her website.
Every Friday, authors and KidLit bloggers post a favorite picture book. To see a complete listing of all the Perfect Picture Books (PPB) with resources, please visit author Susanna Leonard Hill’s Perfect Picture Books.