The year is 1936. Gloria Mae Willard, her parents, and older sister are evicted from their Oklahoma farm. The baby brother they recently lost is buried under a tree on that property. The Dust Bowl has wreaked havoc making farming the land a useless endeavor. Gloria’s passion though is baseball and the boys in her former town never let her play.

The family moves to California and stays in a settlement of workers picking a peach crop. The work is not easy, but Gloria discovers a small group of boys sneaking out to play baseball against a group from a nearby apricot farm. Rules forbid them from leaving the premises but who cares when baseball is the goal. Gloria has a plan to put herself on that team despite the objections of almost every boy.

The first person narration is superb as you feel every emotion and struggle Gloria goes through. Her determination is unflappable even though it gets her into trouble most of the time. The setting is perfect to bring out what these migrant workers went through with low pay (20 cents an hour) along with terrible living conditions.

Things get so bad at the camp, Gloria’s Pa begins to organize a strike. This doesn’t stop his spunky daughter from continuing her plan to show those boys what kind of pitching arm she can bring to the sandlot. The results are page turning on all fronts. A memorable and important story. A home run on my scorecard.

BOOK BIRTHDAY: August 30, 2022 PAGE COUNT: 320


  1. Team spirit is important not only on the baseball field but also for the migrant workers wanting better conditions and pay. Both are revealed in plot twisting ways.
  2. The relationship Gloria has with her older sister goes through a wonderful transformation as these two begin to see each other differently.
  3. Tension is the key driver of this plot and the outcome is endearing for readers.
  4. Overcoming gender stereotypes, climate concerns, and income inequalities are sadly ones we are still dealing with today. Reading this account set almost 90 years ago will insight more discussion about what needs to happen in our present world.
  5. The arc for the secondary characters are each unique and expertly drawn out. You’ll see Pa, Ma, and several of the boys in a different light by the ending pages. Nicely done!


Skyler Schrempp writes books and makes theatre in her hometown of Chicago. She lives in an old drafty house with her husband Kyle, her daughter Elowen, and a black cat named Masha. She got her undergrad at Hampshire College and has an MFA from Vermont College of Fine Arts. When she’s not writing, you can find her making jam from the berries that grow in her backyard or building a fire in her fireplace (depending on the season).

For more visit Skyler’s author web site.

Be sure to also visit all the posts for this week’s MARVELOUS MIDDLE GRADE MONDAY

About Greg Pattridge

Climbing another mountain...always striving to reach the next peak in my life and career.
This entry was posted in Historical fiction, Middle Grade Book Reviews and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.


  1. It sounds a strong story set in a very difficult time in US history. The character depictions seem really well-done, I’d almost read the book for that alone! Thanks for the review!

  2. This sounds like a great story. I love that Gloria is into baseball.

  3. carolbaldwin says:

    this sounds like a story I would really like!

  4. I wrote a similar short story about girls not being allowed to play baseball. Anything baseball is of interest to me. I will have to check this one out. Thanks for the heads up.

  5. Ooh! This looks like it’s right up my alley. Thanks for the review. 🙂

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