Level the Playing Field: The Past, Present, and Future of Women’s Pro Sports by Kristina Rutherford
The experience of being a professional athlete is very different for men and women. While men’s pro sports command throngs of fans, media attention, and money, many of the world’s top professional female athletes aren’t valued or recognized equally for their talent—even though female athletes prove time and time again that they have all the skill, drama, and rivalries of their male counterparts.
Level the Playing Field examines the root of these issues by taking readers through the history of women’s pro sports, exploring how far we have come in a relatively short time and exposing what ground is left to gain. The book provides first-person insight through exciting interviews with professional female athletes, including Canadian hockey player Cassie Campbell, American MMA fighter Miesha Tate, and WNBA star Elena Delle Donne. Along the way, author and sports journalist Kristina Rutherford covers important topics like opportunity, female role models, and stereotypes.
Drawing on examples from a wide range of sports, and complete with sidebars, photographs, sources, and an index, this is an informative and authoritative book that makes an important contribution to the movement for women’s acceptance in professional sport. (OWLKIDS)
Heart of a Champion by Ellen Schwartz
Ten-year-old Kenny (Kenji in Japanese) worships his older brother, Mickey (Mitsuo), a baseball hero whose outstanding performance on the Asahi baseball team has given him fame and popularity. Despite Kenny’s suspected heart condition, he is determined to practice secretly with Mickey so he, too, can one day try out for the Asahi. But world events soon overtake life in this quiet community. When Japan attacks Pearl Harbor in 1941, everything for Kenny and his family spirals out of control: schools are closed, businesses are confiscated, fathers are arrested and sent to work camps in the BC interior and mothers and children are relocated to internment camps. When Mickey is arrested for a small act of violence, Kenny manages to keep his family’s spirits up, despite the deplorable conditions in camp. Coming across a “vacant” field covered with scrap wood, broken shakes and torn tar paper, Kenny gets permission to clear it and convert it into a baseball field. One by one, the boys in the camp pitch in, and the work gives purpose to their long days. Kenny’s persistence, hard work and big dreams shape the teen he is to become in this story of happiness found despite all odds. (Tundra)
As if being a teenager isn’t difficult enough, Micah is coping with a disability that slowly diminishes his capability to do things others take for granted. He tries to be as normal as he possibly can: refusing to have a guide dog believing it will limit his freedom, trying to do without his white cane as often as possible, and hiding his flare-ups in the vain hope that his disability will go away on its own. The only place where Micah really feels in control is on the court when he plays goalball: a game designed for the visually impaired.
Young readers will relate to young Micah’s struggles: not necessarily his disability, but his anger issues, making friends, learning to be part of a team, that special relationship, and trying to become more independent of his parents. The language and tone of the book definitely feels like a young teen is speaking to the reader. It’s wonderful to have a book that is based locally and illustrates the pressures young people face as they juggle parental expectations, personal goals, expectations, relationships and in this case a degenerative disability.
-Reviewed by Marianne Huang