Allison's Book Bag

And Four More Multicultural Picture Book Golden Sower Nominees!

Posted on: April 12, 2012

The remaining four Golden Sower picture book nominees are about sports heroes. Three of them are about males, with two of them written by their family members. Normally, I like to organize books alphabetically by author, but this time I’m putting the Catching the Moon first because it’s the exception in being about a female athlete.

CATCHING THE MOON by Crystal Hubbard

Crystal Hubbard has always enjoyed writing, which led her to work at a newspaper. Journalism gave her the skill to do the research required to write biographical children’s books, while the deadlines gave her the discipline to work through writer’s block. In working for a newspaper, Hubbard also became familiar with publishers and the books they produce.

Hubbard has also always loves sports, but grew up with chronic asthma, which made gym class a nightmare for her. In her early twenties, she started taking a medication that controlled her asthma and allowed her to become more active. Finally, she was able to do all the things that had made her wheeze when as a kid.  Once she started participating in sports, she became interested in watching them and then in writing about them.

When her first child was born in 1996, Hubbard started going to the Burlington Public Library weekly, checking out twenty or thirty books a week, and reading all of those books to her son. When she came across a reference to a female Negro League baseball player, she decided she wanted to tell that story to her son. That was the inspiration for her first children’s book, Catching The Moon: The Story of a Young Girl’s Baseball Dream.

When her first daughter was born in 2001, Hubbard left her newspaper job to become a full-time mom. She also gave herself a two-year deadline to sell one of her manuscripts to a publishing house. Two days after her two-year deadline, she sold her first adult fiction novel. The day after that, she sold her first picture book.

“It’s important for me to tell the stories of the African-American and female heroes I select because they are ordinary people who do extraordinary things, and their stories too often go untold.”
Crystal Hubbard, Twenty-Eight Days Later

Catching the Moon by Crystal Hubbard is about Marcenia “Toni Stone” Lyle Alberga, who became the first female member of an all-male professional team. So many sports books are about boys that I enjoyed reading one about a girl with a passion for baseball. Although Catching the Moon doesn’t have anything to do with intercultural communication, it is about diversity in that it tells of how Marcenia broke baseball gender’s barrier. So while it didn’t help me with my research paper, it did pique my interest in reading more about the status of women in professional team sports.

My rating? Read it: Borrow from your library or a friend. It’s worth your time.

How would you rate this book?

SALT IN HIS SHOES by Deloris Jordan

Deloris Jordan is the mother of former Chicago Bulls basketball legend Michael Jordan. She is also the co-author of two picture books, including Salt in His Shoes. Although I have long heard of Michael Jordan, despite not being a basketball player, I hadn’t ever read anything about him. This biography was a treat to read, because it shows it an interesting way how important family, faith, persistence, and belief in dreams were to his success. For example, did you know that Michael often lost due to not being tall enough? The title Salt in His Shoes actually comes from advice his mom gave him, when he complained about being too short. There are several other fun stories too. So again while Salt in His Shoes didn’t help me with my research paper, I’m glad to have read it. Now I’ll have some facts to show off to my sports-loving student readers!

“I dedicate this book to the many children who are inclined to say ‘I can’t’ or “I wish I had talent’ or ‘I wish I were gifted.’ To them I say, ‘You are gifted. You are talented. God has a plan for each of you; just believe in yourself and follow your dreams.’ “
–Deloris Jordan, dedication to Salt in His Shoes

My rating? Read it: Borrow from your library or a friend. It’s worth your time.

How would you rate this book?

MAJOR TAYLOR CHAMPION CYCLIST by Lesa Cline-Ransome

Lena Cline-Ransom grew up in Massachusetts and considers herself lucky to have grown up with a mother who loved to read. Each week her mom would take Ransome with her to their local library to stock up on books. Her mom also gave her a diary as a gift, which Ransome first filled with details of her life and then eventually started also adding stories. Through her mom, Ransome realized that reading and writing could become a wonderful escape. In my case, my dad gave me books and my grandmother gave me my first diary. Otherwise, I also feel blessed to have grown up with family who similarly fostered the love of reading and writing for me.

By the time Ransome reached middle school, she decided that she wanted to be a journalist. Unfortunately, after attending a summer workshop for teens interested in journalism, Ransome discovered she was too shy to conduct interviews, hated working under tight deadlines and did not enjoy factual writing. Myself, I also thought in high school about becoming a journalist. This seemed to be how one should start of a writing career. My dad advised me against it, feeling that I had a more creative bent. I suspect that if I had pursued journalism, I would have disliked it for all the reasons Ransome did.

After she married, Ransome became interested in writing children’s books. Her husband was working on illustrating his first book. Together, they studied picture books—he looked at the art and she read the stories. When her husband encouraged her to hand at writing a picture book, she dismissed his suggestion until reading a passage about legendary pitcher Satchel Paige. Although not a baseball fan, Satchel was such a complex character, she felt drawn to his story:  He was a team player who had few friends and traveled alone.  He loved to put on a show but was never punctual.  He loved his family but preferred being on the road.  Today Ransome is an established biographer.

“I write biographies because I am fascinated by the lives of others. I enjoy discovering how a person’s childhood impacts their adult lives. I especially love finding the most interesting parts of a person’s life, piecing them together and creating a new story for a new group of readers.”
–Lesa Cline-Ransom, Just Wondering 

Her book Major Taylor Champion Cyclist is an African-American bicycle racer who won the 1899 World Championship title. The first half of Major Taylor is about how he became the fastest cyclist in his neighborhood, won his first race in Indianapolis, and then aspired to become the best in the world. The second half delves into the discriminatory challenges taking place off the track, including being unable to race in some cities. While Major Taylor is another picture book suitable for discussing diversity, I preferred Catching the Moon and Salt in His Shoes due to their lighter tone and due to their written being from the perspective of a young person.

My rating? Leave it: Don’t even take it off the shelves. Not recommended.

How would you rate this book?

TESTING THE ICE by Sharon Robinson

Sharon Robinson is the daughter of baseball legend Jackie Robinson. In addition to her writing career, Ms. Robinson is an educational consultant for Major League Baseball. In this capacity, she oversees educational programs designed to empower students with strategies to help them face obstacles in their lives. The programs deliver their message by examining the values demonstrated in the lives of Jackie Robinson and other baseball stars.

She’s also the author of several books about her father, including Testing the Ice. The first few pages set up a conflict, which is that her father would never enter the water. After a nine-page interruption, which describes her father’s historical entry into Major League Baseball, the story returns to the original conflict. Although much of Testing the Ice is written from Robinson’s viewpoint, like Major Cyclist it has a mature tone. Both of these biographies are also much denser and longer than the first two livelier biographies. Should you wish to read more about Jackie Robinson, check out Questions and Answers with his daughter.

My rating? Leave it: Don’t even take it off the shelves. Not recommended.

How would you rate this book?

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