A Lot or a Little?
What you will—and won't—find in this book.
The Negro Baseball League, and the moment in history when Black players broke into the Major Leagues, play an important roles in the story.
Teamwork makes the dream work.
Positive Role Models
Four generations of athletes sustain their love of the sport despite setbacks ranging from discrimination to injury to distraction. A teacher supports a student to apply lessons from the classroom to her highest concerns in life. A group of Black girls on a softball team show courage and determination when playing a rival team in an area where people sport Confederate flags.
The main characters are African American girls. The White woman coach of the girls' softball team is in a same-sex marriage. The book is notable for centering the Black girls' perceptions about the White girls' hair and skin color; they experience their own physical features as the norm, and do not hold White girls as the standard.
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Violence & Scariness
There's a tense, mildly scary moment when the girls' team plays in an area where they see Confederate flags on people's cars and a few people use racial slurs, including the "N" word.
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A few White people use racial slurs directed at the Black girls' team, including the "N" word (which is referred to but not spelled out).
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Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that Fast Pitch by Nic Stone (Clean Getaway, Dear Martin) is about 12-year-old Shenice, in Atlanta, Georgia, who's captain of the only all-Black team in the Dixie Youth Softball Association. Under her leadership, the team is in the running for league championship. Her great-grandfather, grandfather, and father were all baseball players; each one lost his career prematurely. Shenice meets Uncle Jack, her great-grandfather's brother, who's living out his last days in a nursing home. Their conversation launches her on a quest to clear her great-grandfather's name of the accusation that he stole Joe DiMaggio's glove from a charity auction. There's a tense, mildly scary moment when the girls' team plays in an area where they see Confederate flags on people's cars and a few people use racial slurs, including the "N" word (which is referred to, not written out).
Is It Any Good?
Fun, fast-paced, and suspenseful, this story brings an upbeat spin to a sad history. In Fast Pitch by Nic Stone, a girl in the 2000s, a talented fast-pitch softball player, is a member of the only Black team in a league still named "Dixie." Through family history about her great-grandfather, she learns about the Negro Leagues. The author makes her point strongly but with a light touch: There has certainly been progress, but unfortunately racial equity and understanding haven't quite been achieved. Readers will root for the resourceful, tenacious, and positive characters who populate this book.
Did we miss something on diversity?
Research shows a connection between kids' healthy self-esteem and positive portrayals in media. That's why we've added a new "Diverse Representations" section to our reviews that will be rolling out on an ongoing basis. You can help us help kids by suggesting a diversity update.