Children's author Shana Corey was inspired to research the All-American Girls Professional Baseball League that was founded during World War II after she saw the movie A League of Their Own. To deliver this tale to young readers, she created a fictitious character named Katie Casey a name borrowed from the original lyrics to the classic song, "Take Me Out to the Ball Game" who is the star of Players in Pigtails, a super new picture book combining a good story with wonderful illustrations and a well-told, exciting little history lesson.
Players in Pigtails offers an unusual heroine: "Katie Casey wasn't good at being a girl . . . at least not the kind of girl everyone thought she should be. Her clothing was crumpled. Her knitting was knotted. Her dancing was a disaster." Of course, the thing that Katie lives for is baseball, and she becomes the hero of the All-American Girls Professional Baseball League, created by Chicago Cubs owner Phillip Wrigley when many male professional players were off fighting in World War II. Corey tells the story simply, so little readers can understand the details. Older readers will be dismayed by the many prejudices that existed against women athletes during the World War II era. "What good is baseball to a girl?" newspaper headlines read at one point. But the story concludes with a grand-slam home run by Katie, and a cheering crowd "all too busy talking about how good GIRLS were for baseball."
Corey, who also wrote Milly and the Macy's Parade, rounds out the book with an essay about the league and its history. Rebecca Gibbon's watercolor and colored pencil illustrations are lively and fun, presenting historically accurate details while still managing to look modern. We see posters with war references, and the clothing styles of the day are on display. This creative duo has produced a story that will inspire and enlighten both young girls and boys. A winning team, indeed!