This month, Newsbee hurtles round the bases with “Sports Books That Score.” There’s something for every taste in this spectacular trio of stories about athletes on and off the field who participate for the love of the game and the competition, establishing names for themselves, acing serves and catching fly balls. Cross the finish line with our spectacular September reads —you’ll bee glad that you did.
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When Bobbi Gibb wanted to compete in the Boston Marathon, women’s running shoes weren’t available. So Gibb, a nurse, ran in her nurse’s shoes and boots in frigid weather training to get prepared. She became the first woman to run the entire Boston Marathon in 1966, clad in a new pair of men’s shoes that gave her blisters, but besting two-thirds of the male runners.
The story of Gibb’s dream-come-true is enthusiastically told in “Girl Running, Bobbi Gibb and the Boston Marathon,” by Annette Bay Pimentel. A natural runner, Gibb didn’t have support in her sport — wasn’t even allowed to run on her school track team. Later her application to participate in the Boston Marathon was rejected. “Women are not physiologically able to run 26 miles and furthermore the rules do not allow it.”
Far be it from Gibb to accept the glib cop-out. She kept her eyes on the prize, ran in the Boston Marathon in 1966, 1967 and 1968. Colorful collages by Micha Archer detail Gibb’s accomplishments.
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A parent’s efforts to push a child to compete in a sport can backfire. The opposite occurred in the Richard Williams’ family, a family with two sister-champs. Read about them in “Game Changers, the Story of Venus and Serena Williams,” by Lesa Cline-Ransome, with energetic, exciting illustrations by James E. Ransome, her husband.
Growing up in a rough part of Los Angeles, Venus and Serena’s dad did all he could to get his girls into tennis, encouraging them to practice bright and early six days a week, on a court they had to sweep free of trash. Though his ambition for them was often scoffed at, Williams’ daughters latched onto his dream with gusto.
The public-court girls perfected their skills, Venus, the older of the two saying at 12 she was going to win Wimbledon and at 14 playing in her first pro tournament. Their rise to fame wasn’t without hurdles, like adjusting to the challenge of competing against one another and coming back after injuries.
Venus and Serena’s rise to fame makes for a stirring book that might make readers want to pick up a racket.
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Imagine sharing the boundary of your ball field fence with a 2,580-pound rhino named Tank, and having to play right field with the big brute breathing down your neck. That’s an average day for Nick, a nice kid in “The Rhino in Right Field,” by Stacy DeKeyser. Good ol’ Nick is bamboozled by fly balls and an archrival named Pete.
A sixth-grader in 1940s Wisconsin, Nick was always eager for a pickup game with his buddies. But on Saturdays he strikes out because his immigrant pop owns a small business and makes his son work, no matter what.
When the opportunity arises to take part in a contest sponsored by a Great Lakes League team that’s down on its luck, Nick has to tell his pop a whopper so he can go to the “Bat Boy for a Day” competition. Add to that another underhanded ploy and Nick’s conscience dogs him overtime.
With nostalgic characters straight out of the funny pages, and a zippy plot loosely based on an actual team that shared its ball field with a zoo, this quick read is more fun than a sold-out stadium jammed with monkeys.