A Strong Right Arm: The Story of Mamie “Peanut” Johnson by
Michelle Y. Green; Dial Books for Young Readers: New York, 2002; $15.99
I love baseball, and I have always had a special interest in African-American history. But that is only a part of the reason that I liked A Strong Right Arm. The book is about Mamie Johnson, an African-American girl who plays baseball in the days when the major leagues were segregated.
At the beginning of the book, we hear how Mamie has grown up with baseball, how her “life has been wrapped up in that three-inch universe of twine and leather.” I think that is a good beginning because it shows right from the start what the book is about and displays the attitude of the main character.
This book takes us through the baseball life of Mamie, and there are many instances where she shows the heart and determination of a true winner. For example, when Mamie was ten, she moved from South Carolina to New Jersey. There was no baseball for girls in her new town, and when she saw a white boys’ team playing she wanted to play with them. The boys laughed and said she couldn’t play because she was a “colored girl,” but she signed up for the team anyway. I liked how, even when the boys teased her, Mamie knew she was as good as they were.
Reading this book made me feel grateful for the kind of environment I live in. I am on a swim team. Unlike Mamie, I am not a natural athlete, but at least I am accepted and encouraged by my teammates. Mamie was a very good pitcher, but she was not fully accepted by her team because of her color.
Mamie mentions that her family was always behind her, whatever she did. That shows the importance of a good family, because, as hard as it was for Mamie to achieve her goals, I think it would have been much harder without the strong support of her family. I like how Mamie says that her family was a leading force in her life and dreams, instead of saying that she accomplished everything she did by herself. My family is a huge part of my life, and I don’t think I would be where I am in anything without their support.
Although there are parts in this book that would not be particularly interesting to people who don’t like baseball, I don’t think this book is mainly about sports. I think it’s about achieving goals, not giving up, and believing in yourself.