Dear Aunt Debbie,
I look forward to sharing the baseball books with Eleanor when she gets a little older. Right now, of course, we have Cubs-related board books, and sing "Take Me Out to the Ballgame" as our last lullaby every night ("And it's root, root root for the Cubbies") -- but you understand marrying into a family with a love for a team that seems destined to lose forever. At least your Red Sox fan daughters eventually got lucky....
We've found and checked out a few random baseball-related books in the library. The one she liked best was Girl Wonder, by Deborah Hopkinson.
Girl Wonder: A Baseball Story in Nine Innings
It's based on the true story of Alta Weiss, who pitched on a minor league team starting in 1906, then quit baseball to become one of the first women doctors. It's a punchy book, and Eleanor enjoyed reading it. Like a number of historical girl-power books, however, it raises a funny issue for me: it introduces my daughter to historical prejudice and stereotyping even as it tries to debunk the stereotype. When I read dialogue in which men and boys tell Alta, "You can't play baseball! You're a girl!" I cringe. Nobody has ever told Eleanor that she can't play baseball. I kind of hate for her to have to find out.
When I opened Girl Wonder, I realized that Hopkinson was also the author of another good library find: Apples to Oregon: Being the (Slightly) True Narrative of How a Brave Pioneer Father Brought Apples, Peaches, Pears, Plums, Grapes, and Cherries (and Children) Across the Plains.
Apples to Oregon
This is a joyful, weird, tall tale of a book, also based on a historical narrative. It's told by Delicious, the oldest daughter of a tree farmer who transports a nursery full of trees from Iowa to Oregon in a covered wagon. The full-length title gives you a good sense of the tone. And while it's the father's idea to go this whole long way, Delicious and the other kids are the ones who do a lot of the tree-saving work. Empowering in another way?