Review of Warrior on the Mound

Warrior on the Mound Warrior on the Mound
by Sandra W. Headen
Intermediate, Middle School    Holiday    272 pp.
3/24    9780823453788    $18.99
e-book ed.  9780823457526    $10.99

Twelve-year-old Cato Jones and his friends, who are Black, skip school and cross the county line to see Poplar Field, the white boys’ new baseball field. Cato wants his father, who died four years earlier, to see it, symbolically, through his eyes. Daddy Mo, a pitcher for the Kansas City Monarchs in the Negro American League, would have loved the nicely groomed field with real bases, a raised pitcher’s mound, and bleachers. But this is 1939, and what the friends are doing is dangerous. Sure enough, they are wrongly accused of vandalizing the field and required to work at Luke Blackburn’s grocery store to teach them a lesson. Mr. Luke, a white man Cato has never liked or trusted, turns out to have been friends with Daddy Mo and offers Cato and his friends a chance to practice on the field with his son’s team, sparking racial tensions in town. Headen captures the layers of racism embedded in a southern town where the histories of Black and white communities intertwine. To honor Black players of the past, Headen has named the players on Cato’s team after actual players from the Negro Leagues. Extensive back matter includes a timeline, an author’s note, a bibliography, and additional historical information.

From the May/June 2024 issue of The Horn Book Magazine.

Dean Schneider

Dean Schneider teaches eighth grade English at the Ensworth School in Nashville, Tennessee.

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