Thursday, August 29, 2013
A Strong Right Arm
A Strong Right Arm: The Story of Mamie "Peanut" Johnson
by Michelle Y. Green
2014 Bluestem Nominee
Audience: Grades 3 to 5
Publication Date: July 22, 2002
If you met Mamie Johnson today, you wouldn't believe that she was once a professional ball player. But she happily tells her story in the pages of this book from her days on an all boy, all white, police sponsored little league team to her doomed tryout with the All-American Girls Professional Baseball League. Finally, she describes her career with the Negro League. The entire tone of the book is like sitting at Mamie's feet, listening to her wax nostalgic on her past. This is a book that will please baseball and history fans alike.
As a Bluestem, it's pretty great. I like the powerful message that weaves through the story-never becoming too apparent or forced. Mamie never gave up on her dream to play baseball, although toward the end she knew that the league was changing and her place in baseball was dwindling. Readers will be inspired by her story and will also learn a little more about the Civil Rights movement in a more indirect way.
I'll say it again, I would rather see quality non-fiction and information books on the list than message-heavy fiction. This book fits the bill perfectly. It reads like a fiction book and some readers might even be surprised to learn that it is a true story. Hopefully readers give it a try and this one finishes well.
Give this one to your baseball fans or to any little girl that needs to read about something other than princesses and ponies.