This book tells the true story of Mary Garber, who successfully pursued her dream of being a sportswriter in spite of huge obstacles for women in that field. She was so beloved and respected that she was inducted into the Hall of Fame of the National Sportcasters and Sportswriters Association in 2008 at the age of 92.
The author begins her story when Mary was a little girl. She loved playing sports, watching sports, and reading all about them. She wanted to report on them too, but did not get an opportunity until the U.S. entered World War II. Many men joined the service, including all the sportswriters at the Winston-Salem, North Carolina “Twin City Sentinel.” Finally, women could get a chance at some of the jobs that employers were now unable to fill by men.
As the author writes: “She wrote about baseball, football, basketball, tennis, track and field, and just about every other competitive contest including marbles.” She covered games whether at white schools or at the segregated African-American schools. She coped with the discrimination against women in the press box and locker rooms by drawing inspiration from Jackie Robinson, who showed “quiet dignity in the face of taunts and jeers.”
For more than fifty years, Mary continued to write, not stopping until 2002, when she was in her eighties!
Over the years, many people came up to Mary and told her what a difference she had made in their lives by writing about them, and by showing girls that they, too, could be sportswriters.
The back of the book contains an Author’s Note, a timeline, and a guide to additional resources.
You probably have seen the illustrations of C.F. Payne before; his Norman-Rockwell-like artwork has been featured on the covers of such magazines as Time, Readers Digest, Sports Illustrated, The New York Times Book Review and Sunday Magazine, and MAD Magazine, to name a few.
He uses mixed-media artwork to create a soft, hazy effect that suggests a historical quality. He also is known for a caricatured rendering of characters that emphasize salient features. In this case, Mary’s diminutive stature and large owl glasses stand out. He also often shows Mary alone, in both a metaphorical reference to her status and a real depiction of how singular and isolated she often was.
Evaluation: This is a great book to show girls that it is possible to do anything they want to do if they have enough perseverance and determination (well, and a world war….).
Published by Paula Wiseman Books, an imprint of Simon & Schuster Children’s Publishing, 2016