Today, the Olympic marathon is a painstakingly organized contest of endurance among well-trained international athletes. This was not the case in The Wildest Race Ever (Simon & Schuster, $17.99), better known as the Olympic marathon of 1904. The rag-tag group of contenders seemed a bit out of shape and employed some dubious race strategies (strychnine cocktail, anyone?); one questionable character even took an illegal lift in an automobile. American Thomas Hicks, the eventual champion, collapsed over the finish line with an unimpressive time. Author/illustrator Meghan McCarthy’s expressive acrylic paintings will certainly appeal to young readers and future competitors. Ages 4-8.
So you throw like a girl? That’s great, especially if you throw like Edith Houghton! Author Audrey Vernick tells this inspiring athlete’s story in The Kid from Diamond Street: The Extraordinary Story of Baseball Legend Edith Houghton (Clarion, $17.99). The youngest of ten children, Edith grew up playing baseball on the streets of Philadelphia. At the tender age of ten, Edith was the starting shortstop for a professional women’s team and had the experience of a lifetime when they traveled to baseball-crazy Japan to compete against various men’s teams. Steven Salerno brings this inspirational story to life with his colorful retro illustrations. Play ball, girls! Ages 4-8.
In the late 1800s, William Hoy was a good baseball player with a major-league problem: he was deaf. His family was supportive, but didn’t think he could make his dreams come true. In author Nancy Churnin’s account of the The William Hoy Story (Albert Whitman, $16.99), she describes how this talented athlete overcame the challenges of living in a society biased in favor of the hearing to become one of baseball’s greats and change the game forever. Jez Tuya’s playful illustrations will appeal to young readers and adults alike. Chernin includes relevant additional information and a timeline to round out Hoy’s uplifting story. Ages 5-8.