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Mama Played Baseball

Mama Played Baseball

5.0 2
by David A. Adler, Chris O'Leary (Illustrator)

Amy's dad is away, fighting in World War II, and her mama must take a job. But it's no ordinary job--Amy's mother becomes a baseball player in the first professional women's league! Amy cheers louder than anyone at all of the home games. And while Mama's team travels, Amy works on a secret project--a surprise for her dad when he is finally back


Amy's dad is away, fighting in World War II, and her mama must take a job. But it's no ordinary job--Amy's mother becomes a baseball player in the first professional women's league! Amy cheers louder than anyone at all of the home games. And while Mama's team travels, Amy works on a secret project--a surprise for her dad when he is finally back home.
With warmhearted, historically based text and lush illustrations, award-winning author David A. Adler and talented new artist Chris O'Leary bring to life the soaring spirit of the 1940s. Featured in the major motion picture A League of Their Own, the All-American Girls Professional League helped women prove that no war could stop the great game of baseball.
An author's note provides historical context for the era.

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
Adler (The Babe and I; Lou Gehrig: The Luckiest Man) heads back to the ballpark for this tale of a girl whose mother makes it into a women's pro baseball league during WWII. "While Dad's away, I need to work," Mama tells Amy, who wonders, "What kind of job is that?" In fact, Mama needs Amy's help to practice for the tryouts (they play catch). Adler includes such period details as mentions of war news and The Jack Benny Show on the radio, but unlike the subjects of his picture book biographies, the characters here never take on much dimension. An evening with Amy and her grandparents gathered around the Sunday dinner table seems designed only to demonstrate her grandfather's memory loss ("You told Amy last night about the war and your medal," his wife says. "Well, I did fight and I did win a medal," Grandpa replies). Scenes of Mama trying out and bringing home her uniform (a fetching pink number) liven up the proceedings, and readers unfamiliar with the start of the All-American Girls' Professional Baseball League (explained in an endnote) may well find this story satisfying, especially when Amy's soldier father comes home at the end. The high point here is the work of debut artist O'Leary, whose sinewy artistic style recalls Depression-era murals. The physicality of his oil paintings, rendered in subtle earth tones, energize the action on the baseball diamond and are equally effective in conveying warmly lit interior scenes. Ages 5-8. (Mar.)
Children's Literature
World War II is raging, and Amy understands that her Dad has to go away again. He's in the Army, wears a uniform, and has to put this new job above even his family. What she does not understand is why her Mama wants to play baseball and calls that a job, too. It is not until after Amy helps her mother practice throwing and catching enough that Mama is chosen to be on the women's (they called it "girls'" then) team and get a snappy short-skirted uniform to wear that Amy pulls it all together. Instead of working in a factory, Mama will play baseball for her job, and that will help the war effort, too. Adler creates a warm bonding between mother and daughter in this book, which keeps alive the memory of the All-American Girls' Professional Baseball League that provided fans with their favorite sport while so many of the male players were serving in the armed forces. With such names as Chicks, Lassies, and Daisies, these teams lasted until 1954, the "Author's Note" tells us. That certainly dates the story, as do the Depression era oil paintings that wash its pages with browns, taupes and olive drab colors. A good choice for youngsters whose parents are once again serving their country and leaving their families behind to cope. 2003, Harcourt, Ages 5 to 8.
— Judy Chernak
School Library Journal
K-Gr 3-While Amy's father is fighting in World War II, her mother gets an unusual job to make ends meet: she becomes a professional baseball player. Though at first the girl wonders, "What kind of job is that?" she enthusiastically roots for Mama during games and helps her practice when she can. Amy narrates the story in direct and simple sentences, focusing on the events that affect her and her family. Adler provides basic historical background in an author's note, but appropriately sticks to the child's perspective in this heartfelt narrative. Full-page oil paintings evoke the time and place. Figures and faces stand out nicely against the comfortable olive and brown tones in the background. Broad neighborhood and crowd scenes alternate with closer views of individuals. After a successful season, Mama dresses for a game but takes her daughter to the bus station instead of the stadium where they meet Dad, his uniform as impressive as Mama's. Amy's surprise for her father turns out to be her own drawings of Mama playing baseball. The revelation is not especially dramatic, but it fits just right with the warm mood of the story. The final painting focuses on the three family members enjoying the peace of home.-Steven Engelfried, Beaverton City Library, OR Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information.
Kirkus Reviews
Oil paintings filled with motion and muted colors reminiscent of painter Thomas Benton Hart take the reader back to the time of WWII in this low-key story about a girl whose mother plays baseball. Amy's mother tries out successfully for the All-American Girls Professional Baseball League, and fortunately plays for their hometown team. At first, narrator Amy isn't impressed. What kind of job is baseball, a game, compared to her father's peacetime job of delivering milk? But her father is away in the army, the family needs the income, and as she watches her mother play, Amy gains in enthusiasm. Despite this change in Amy, the choppy writing lacks emotional impact and explains feelings with phrases like "We were so happy," rather than conveying them through action and dialogue. It's surprising that the child of an athlete good enough to play pro ball initially cares so little for the sport. Amy also doesn't seem to mind it that her mother is away a lot or that her father is presumably in some danger. The artwork, which outshines the text, enhances the emotions described in an impressive debut by O'Leary. Readers looking for more effective picture books about women in baseball should try Dirt on Their Skirts: The Story of the Young Women Who Won the World Championship, by Doreen Rappaport and Lyndall Callan (2000), or Girl Wonder: A Baseball Story in Nine Innings, by Deborah Hopkinson (p. 232). (Picture book. 5-9)

Product Details

Houghton Mifflin Harcourt
Publication date:
Edition description:
First Edition
Product dimensions:
9.00(w) x 11.00(h) x 0.35(d)
AD440L (what's this?)
Age Range:
4 - 7 Years

Meet the Author

DAVID A. ADLER is the award-winning author of more than a hundred and fifty books for young people, including America's Champion Swimmer: Gertrude Ederle; Lou Gehrig: The Luckiest Man; and The Babe and I. He lives in Long Island, New York.

CHRIS O'LEARY, a talented illustrator and graphic designer, makes his picture book debut with Mama Played Baseball. He lives in Columbus, Ohio.

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Mama Played Baseball 5 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 2 reviews.
Hyzenthlay More than 1 year ago
My niece is not a typical little girl - she wanted trucks for Christmas, lots of them! But, she is big into softball and is a super reader! The book was a hit in many ways. She loved the story and the great drawings. I loved the history she will learn from reading it over and over, not to mention the reading practice she'll get. The level is higher than a five year-old usually reads, but she enjoys a good challenge!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I never knew about the women's baseball league until I saw the movie about it some years ago. This is a wonderful resource for grade levels studying World War II. It gives a different perspective about the human side of life during this time period in our nation's history. My fifth grade teachers grabbed this book immediately.