BookPage Children's Top Pick, May 2018
History comes alive in Ellen Klages’ captivating novel Out of Left Field. In 1957 San Francisco, 10-year-old Katy Gordon is an ace pitcher who makes a Little League team while disguised as a boy, only to be told she’s ineligible when the coach discovers she’s a girl.
Determined to prove that girls should be allowed in the organization, Katy heads to the library to learn about women who have played baseball. Her research unfolds like a scavenger hunt, with Katy writing about and interviewing several sports pioneers. “Anyone who says girls can’t play baseball is just ignorant about the history of the game,” one former player tells her.
Klages masterfully weaves in a multitude of historical details, addressing complex issues in sophisticated yet engrossing ways. In school, Katy learns about current events like the launch of Sputnik 1, the arrival of a new baseball team (the San Francisco Giants) and the civil rights movement. When Katy is assigned to write about a hero, she makes baseball cards featuring the diverse female players she’s learned about (they’re included in the back of the book along with other historical notes). “There had been a lot of girls like me, and I felt like we were sort of teammates,” Katie says. Out of Left Field is a grand-slam salute to the power of persistence, research and the pursuit of justice.