Anybody’s Game: Kathryn Johnston, the First Girl to Play Little League Baseball by Heather Lang


Anybody’s Game: Kathryn Johnston, the First Girl to Play Little League Baseball by Heather Lang
Publisher: Albert Whitman & Company
Genre: Children’s (0 – 6 y.o.), Non-Fiction, Historical
Rating: 4 Stars
Reviewed by Astilbe

In 1950, Kathryn Johnston wanted to play Little League baseball, but an unwritten “rule” kept girls from trying out. So she cut off her hair and tried out as a boy under the nickname “Tubby.” She made the team―and changed Little League forever. This is a story about wanting to do something so badly, you’re willing to break the rules, and how breaking those rules can lead to change.

Baseball is for everyone.
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I appreciated the honest tone of this picture book, especially when it came to how difficult it was to push back against sexism in the 1950s because of how ingrained it was everywhere. Kathryn was such a brave girl for finding a clever way around the rules that allowed her to play her favorite sport. Her trendsetting changed the lives of many other kids who would eventually follow in her footsteps.

It would have been helpful to have more details included in the final scene. I was feeling sad right before I read it, so the leap to a much more hopeful emotion to end with left me wishing to know everything that happened between those two moments. This was a minor criticism of something I otherwise enjoyed. It’s simply something I’d want to research on my own before reading it to little ones who may have just as many questions as I did about what Kathryn’s life was like between those two moments.

The plot twists were exciting, especially since Kathryn knew that she wouldn’t be allowed to play baseball anymore if anyone figured out how she’d managed to be invited to join a boys-only baseball team in the first place. I earnestly hoped she’d be included for as long as possible. She’d worked so hard to master her sport and prove her worth to her teammates and coach.

I’d recommend Anybody’s Game to anyone who is a fan of baseball or who has other interests that break stereotypes.

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