Heather: Thank you, Mr. Schu! I’m doing lots of fun things to celebrate today. First, I’m so happy to be back here on your blog to launch my Anybody’s Game book trailer into the world! I had so much fun making this trailer with some very special baseball fans.
Today I’m actually at a writing retreat, so I‘ll be celebrating with writing friends. This is very fitting, because without the constant support of my writing community, there might not be a book.
Also, in honor of Kathryn and all the other women who have blazed trails, I’m launching a Women’s History Month project today with author Kate Hannigan. It’s called #31Women31Books. Every day in March we are tweeting about a remarkable woman from history and the picture book biography that shares her story. And be on the lookout for some awesome giveaways!
When did you first learn about Kathryn Johnston?
Heather: I first learned about Kathryn in 2010. At that time my four kids were knee-deep in Little League baseball and softball, and this brought back such fond memories of my own childhood. Like Kathryn Johnston, I was obsessed with baseball and would play catch in the yard with my dad and brother almost every night.
I knew I wanted to write a book about women in baseball, so I did some research. I was surprised to learn about the many struggles women faced, and I was so inspired by those brave women who fought to play the game they loved. I couldn’t imagine my childhood without baseball and what it must have been like for Kathryn to be shut out because of her gender. That deep emotional connection is what drew me to her story.
Please share three facts about Kathryn.
Kathryn was intensely passionate about baseball. By the way, at 81 she is still cheering for her favorite teams, throwing out first pitches at baseball games, and hoping to get called up to the Yankees!
Kathryn was determined. She threw left-handed, but her family didn’t have enough money to buy her a lefty mitt for her right hand. That didn’t stop her from playing. She would catch the ball in her left hand, take off the mitt, then throw the ball. She played that way until the coach lent her a lefty mitt in the middle of tryouts.
Kathryn had guts. She knew she could make a Little League team if she were a boy, so she cut off her braids and tried out as a boy. She signed in as her favorite comic book character “Tubby” Johnston. It also took a lot of courage to ignore all the insults from kids and adults.
Please finish these sentence starters:
Cecilia Puglesi’s illustrations are perfect for this story! Her retro comic book style is spirited and lively and brings you right back to 1950. Her art is also a wonderful nod to Kathryn’s favorite Little Lulu and Tubby comic books.
Baseball is anybody’s game! Did you know it wasn’t until 1974 when Little League Baseball finally changed its rules to allow girls to play? At the same time they started a softball league. This change happened because of brave girls and women like Kathryn, who challenged the system to follow their passion.
Mr. Schu, you should have asked me if I ever met Kathryn Johnston.
Yes! Kathryn was so generous and helpful, answering my many questions and reliving her Little League days with me. At the end of March I’m going out to her hometown (Yuba City, California) to celebrate with her. We’ll be sharing the book at her local library and a few schools nearby. I can’t wait!!
Please visit heatherlangbooks.com for more information about Kathryn Johnston and women in baseball, and follow Heather on Twitter @hblang.