Celebrating Effa Manley, Newark Style

May 25, 2011

When I started writing a book about Effa Manley, more than anything, I wanted it to be published. I’d written many children’s books to that point and only one had been published, and that was by a regional publisher few had heard of. I promised myself that if it was published, I would celebrate.

I researched, wrote, and sold the book in 2006. I received the contract in 2007. The book was published in 2010.

Many writers plan launch parties for their books. I had visions for mine! I wanted a great baseball bash for Effa. SHE LOVED BASEBALL debuted in October, during the playoffs–too late in the year for any kind of minor league tie in. (I also wanted to celebrate at the Museum of Natural History the month IS YOUR BUFFALO READY FOR KINDERGARTEN? came out. That one didn’t pan out either.)

It took some time, but I eventually realized that a book can be celebrated any time—not just the month it releases.

On Saturday, we’ll be celebrating. With the Newark Bears. It’s Effa Manley Day, boys and girls. This is the Bears’ mascot, Effa, visiting a school with me earlier this week. We shall meet again in Newark. It’s going to a blast.

Tim Raines (former Expo and Yankee) is now the Bears’ manager, and he’s going to read the book to kids in the green room before the game. I believe my very own daughter will be throwing out the first pitch. The first 75 kids through the gate will get a free copy of SHE LOVED BASEBALL, courtesy of HarperCollins Children’s Books (which sure beats the magnetic schedule I seem to get every time I go to any team’s ballgame).

When I wrote the early drafts of SHE LOVED BASEBALL, I spent a lot of time trying to imagine the excitement of a ballgame in Newark in the 1940s. And I love that we will be celebrating this book in precisely that environment—smelling the sweet and salty baseball smells, hearing the cheer of the crowd grow into a roar, all while looking out at the NYC skyline. It’s going to be quite a night.

If you want to join us, you can find all the info here.


Women’s History Month

March 13, 2011

Hop on over to this blog http://kidlitwhm.blogspot.com/2011/03/something-that-is-meaningful-telling.html for my guest post about writing Effa Manley’s story.

Author in the House

February 6, 2011

Event Details: Effa Manley and her Scrapbook
Authors Series
Thu, 21 Apr, 2011 11:00 AM – 12:00 PM

Noted children’s author Audrey Vernick, visits the Hall of Fame to present a special program for families on Effa Manley, the first woman inducted into the National Baseball Hall of Fame. Using Manley’s personal scrapbook (a copy of which resides in the Hall of Fame’s archive) as an example, Vernick will help families create a memento of their visit to Cooperstown. The program will be followed by a book signing, with Vernick signing copies of her book, She Loved Baseball: The Effa Manley Story.  This program is included with the cost of admission.

Location:Learning Center, First Floor


Awards and Honors

January 8, 2011

‘Tis the season. The new class for the Baseball Hall of Fame was announced this week. On Monday morning, the big children’s book awards will be announced.  (Can’t-help-it gush: My favorite award shows, the Golden Globes and the SAG Awards, will both be televised this month.) It’s award time, boys and girls.

Mixed in with excitement for winners, I always feel the hurt of those not honored. Well, maybe not Raphael Palmeiro or Mark McGwire, but all the other ones whose names are repeatedly not selected. And those who write books that don’t reach the hands of the decision-making powers that be.

Barry Bonds(An aside about Palmeiro and McGwire. Am I the only one who noticed that the majority of no-neck big heads wore the number 25?)

But I digress.

As word leaks out on Monday from San Diego about the children’s books that were honored, I just want to say to the rest of you—GOOD JOB, WRITERS AND ILLUSTRATORS! Gold seals are lovely, but this year was so rich in high-quality children’s literature. I’m honored to be part of this world. And I am so, so happy that we children’s writers and illustrators resisted the urge to take performance-enhancing drugs to improve our game.

Early Bloomers

January 1, 2011

When I learned that She Loved Baseball: The Effa Manley Story had been nominated for the American Library Association’s 2011 Amelia Bloomer List, I was so proud. According to the Amelia Bloomer Policies and Procedures, their goal is:  “To select from the current year’s publications books with strong feminist messages for young people from birth to age 18.”

I’ve always believed the story Effa Manley told with her life was an inspiring one, an important one. I hadn’t given much conscious thought to the question of whether or not it was a feminist one.

What appeals to me so much about Effa’s story is the unflinching way she always proceeded. When something was wrong, she sought to right it. When something needed doing, she did it. The fact that she was the only female executive in Negro League Baseball didn’t seem to register to her. Her team needed certain tasks accomplished, and so she accomplished them. With aplomb.

There are lots of ways to define feminist–but if I tried to come up with a better example than that, I’m not sure I could.

The introduction to last year’s Amelia Bloomer Award List stated: “this bibliography is intended to highlight feminist books examining women’s history, those that celebrate women who have blazed trails, and those that describe problems and identify solutions for situations we face today.”

If we’re smart, and I’m pretty sure we are, we might want to think about that a little as we look ahead. A new year provides an annual opportunity to rethink how we do what we do. The good people at the Amelia Bloomer Project have given us a pretty good guide. Let’s highlight, celebrate, blaze trails, identify solutions. Let’s do all of that.

Babyheads, Musketeers, Etc.

November 12, 2010

One of my favorite parts of having a new book out is finding new blogs.

As a blog reader, I’m a disorganized beginner at best. An incompetent newbie. A higgledy-piggledy babyhead. A person could devote a lifetime to being caught up reading all the good blogs. But that would leave no time for watching videos about interspecies friendships on Youtube.

Like every writer in the modernish era, when I publish a book, I create a google alert with the book’s title to keep up with reviews. (Until I fine-tuned my google alert, it was also how I came to learn of the passing of many, many women who loved baseball.)

In lighter news, today’s google alert brought word of a review in a new-to-me blog, The Fourth Musketeer. The review reads, “This is a terrific book on so many levels; it touches on themes of women’s rights and roles, civil rights, baseball history, and so much more.  It would be an excellent book for classroom use or for parents to share with their children, particularly those who are baseball fans.  The vibrant full-color acrylic illustrations by Don Tate, in a style he calls “in between realistic and cartoony,” add immeasurably to the book’s visual appeal.”

Read more.

There are lots of great reviews to be found at the Fourth Musketeer. including the one reviewed right before Effa: Viola Desmond Won’t Be Budged!, by Jody Nyasha Warner, illustrated by Richard Rudnicki. I can’t wait to get my hands on that one.

I was talking with a reporter from School Library Journal about all the books that keep coming out about women, like Effa and Viola, whose stories of civil rights activism are not yet known. She said you have to wonder how many more stories there are like that out there, waiting.

Surely there has to be a blog somewhere devoted to such a topic.

Visit the Fourth Musketeer Blog:  http://fourthmusketeer.blogspot.com

The Offseason

November 8, 2010

I hate packing away my sand- and soil-crusted Old Navy transistor radios.

During baseball season, the yellow radio lives at the beach. People walking the shore line slow down when they hear the announcers’ voices , trying to catch my eye, to ask for a score. Sometimes we’ll get into a heated discussion about a pitcher’s bad outing (A.J. Burnett, I’m talking to you), but more often, they’ll nod their thanks and continue on.

The blue one lives at home, for non-beach days spent pulling weeds or planting annuals in the small garden in front of my house.

But it’s that time again.

No more baseball until next year.

It’s an odd time for a new beginning, strange to be starting a baseball blog just as major league baseball has shuttered up until spring.

But that, of course, is precisely why.

Perhaps the offseason won’t be quite as depressing if I give myself a weekly occasion to think and talk major league baseball.

And some other things. Like great baseball books. And old-time players not much thought about these days. (I’ve had Larry Doby on the brain for weeks.) And odd facts that make me smile—like the Hall of Fame’s decision to display Armando Galaraga’s spikes from his spectacular, if not officially perfect, game.

I’m old enough to know that time goes by quickly. It’ll be spring before too long, time to check the batteries and bring that yellow radio back to the beach. To spend an afternoon sitting in the New Jersey sun, listening.

Photo credit: Baseball Almanac