Kelly, David A. Miracle Mud: Lena Blackburne and the Secret Mud That Changed Baseball
Gr. K–3 32 pp. Millbrook
Illustrated by Oliver Dominguez. Every baseball used in a Major League game is broken in by being rubbed with special mud harvested from a secret location — who knew? This fascinating account relates how former player and coach Blackburne found the special mud in the 1930s, realized its usefulness, and started a business with it. Dominguez’s expressive paintings have the well-worn look of a broken-in baseball.
Subjects: Blackburne, Lena; Sports—Baseball; Inventions and inventors; Biographies
Labrecque, Ellen Flexibility: Stretch and Move Farther
Gr. K–3 32 pp. Heinemann
Labrecque, Ellen Speed: Get Quick!
Gr. K–3 32 pp. Heinemann
Exercise! series. These two books provide clear explanations of simple exercises to help improve running times (Speed) and increase agility (Flexibility). Double-page spreads feature short, easy-to-read texts, “Mini Challenge” boxes, and a couple of photos of kids stretching, moving, and strengthening. The sections cover appropriate training exercises, some of which are borrowed from other sports (yoga, basketball). Reading list, website. Glos., ind.
Subjects: Sports; Exercise; Sports—Running; Speed
Malaspina, Ann Touch the Sky: Alice Coachman, Olympic High Jumper
Gr. 4–6 32 pp. Whitman
Illustrated by Eric Velasquez. Alice Coachman dreamed of athletic success as a “never-sit-still girl” in Depression-era Georgia. Her high-jumping career took off in high school, and in 1948 she became the first black female to win Olympic gold. The drama of Malaspina’s free-verse telling is mirrored by Velasquez’s emotive oil paintings. Appended archival photographs and an author’s note expand the inspirational story. Bib.
Subjects: Sports; Georgia; Coachman, Alice; Women—African Americans; Sports—Track and field; African Americans; Biographies; Women—Athletes; Women—Biographies; Olympics
Savage, Jeff Jeremy Lin
Middle school, high school 112 pp. Morgan
Xtreme Athletes series. This biography chronicles the rise of “Linsanity” — the wild enthusiasm for the first American-born NBA player of Chinese descent. Both college recruiters and the NBA draft overlooked Lin, but his academic prowess and clear passion for the game helped forge his path to Harvard and then to NBA greatness. Action photographs illustrate the accessible text. Timeline, websites. Bib., ind.
Subjects: Sports; Lin, Jeremy; Sports—Basketball; Biographies; Chinese Americans; Taiwanese Americans
Skead, Robert Something to Prove: The Great Satchel Paige vs. Rookie Joe DiMaggio
Gr. 4–6 32 pp. Carolrhoda
Illustrated by Floyd Cooper. In 1936, was twenty-one-year-old Joe DiMaggio ready for the Major Leagues? Should Satchel Paige, pitching great in the Negro Leagues, be playing in the Majors? A game was set up, and both players proved themselves worthy. Skead uses a little-known baseball episode to portray larger issues of race and injustice in America; grainy brown-toned illustrations nicely evoke the dreamy reminiscences of baseball legend. Bib.
Subjects: African Americans; Sports—Baseball; Biographies; Paige, Satchel; DiMaggio, Joe; Race relations; Negro League baseball
From the October 2013 issue of Nonfiction Notes from the Horn Book.