Ellen Klages’ Out of Left Field | Meet The Characters
The Children’s Book Review | October 9, 2018
Get to know Kathleen Curie Gordon (everyone calls her Katy) from Ellen Klages’ Out of Left Field. Selected as a ‘best new book of 2018‘ by TCBR, Out of Left Field is a story about the fight for equal rights in America’s favorite arena: the baseball field!
The Children’s Book Review: What gets you out of bed in the morning?
Katy: Usually my mom. Or the alarm clock. Or both. I kinda like sleeping in. I pull the covers over my head until the very last minute, because breakfast is just cereal and milk and I can eat that pretty fast. Some weekends, though, Mom makes bacon, or pancakes. That smells so good I get up right away!
There was one weekend — right after Sputnik was launched — Mom woke me up at four in the morning — the middle of the night — to go outside and watch. That was a special occasion, though.
I see you have a bag with you. Will you tell us what you keep inside of it?
This is my interview bag. It’s green canvas with a big leather strap. It is NOT a purse. When I carry it, I feel like a girl reporter, or a private eye on an investigation, which is pretty cool. I keep a little notebook and two pens, and a pencil (in case the pens run out) and my Brownie camera in there all the time. For my school project, I’ve gotta talk to some grown-up women about when they used to play baseball, and I need to be ready. It’s not polite to keep interesting people waiting.
Are you hungry right now? Can we fix you anything to eat? Maybe we could make you your favorite dish?
I’m usually hungry. When I come home from school, or from playing baseball with the guys, I always make myself a snack. I like Fritos, and Hostess cupcakes, and Dr Pepper the best. For dinner we have pizza a lot, because my mom works. She does make pretty good meatloaf. But I think my really true favorite is the latkes my Gramma Weiss makes for Hanukkah and other Gramma holidays.
Do you like to read?
You bet! I’ve been reading since I was four. I had my own library card when I was in kindergarten. That’s way younger than the sign said, but the head librarian was used to my older sisters, and she just sighed. Then she wrote a note that said I was allowed to check out as many books as I could carry. Now that I’m ten— and a half — I don’t even have to stay in the Children’s Room anymore, although some grown-ups give me the stink-eye about that.
What do I read? I love comic books, and stories about adventures and baseball, like Chip Hilton. I just discovered the library has a whole wall full of science-fiction. Swell stories about outer space and bug-eyed monsters and the future. Every book in that section has a little rocket ship on the spine. One of the librarians made a tsk-tsknoise when I checked one out, because she said they’re only for boys. Rules about what I can read? That’s stupid, if you ask me. It’s the kind of thing that my teacher, Mr. H, says happens in Communist countries.
Do you have a favorite song?
That sort of changes every month. I listen to KOBY — rock-and-roll and the top 40 — and it’s fun to sing along to most of those. This week, my brain’s been repeating “one-eyed, one-horned flying purple people eater,” over and over when I’m walking home from school.
And I really, really, really like “Witch Doctor.” It’s about as much fun to sing as any song ever. I guess I sing it pretty loud, because Mom puts her fingers in her ears when I get to the part that goes Ooh-eee-ooh-aah-aah! Ting, tang walla walla bing bang! and just points to the back door.
Are you a rule follower or rule breaker?
Kinda both. Like I said, I don’t like rules much, and lots of them are just stupid, like girls aren’t allowed to wear pants to school or play in Little League. But I follow most of them because I have to, and getting into trouble means getting yelled at, or worse.
Still, my mom says that some rules are made to be broken, and I should pick my battles. She’s a scientist, so she knows what she’s talking about. For me, the hard part is figuring out which ones are which.
When was the last time you felt embarrassed?
When I do something stupid in front of people. Like last week, up at the blackboard, in front of the whole class, I wrote 3 x 7 = 28, and everybody laughed. My face got red, because I knew the answer had to be an odd number.
That wasn’t half as bad as the time in second grade when I spilled a whole bowl of chocolate pudding down my yellow sweater in the lunchroom. “Katy’s wearing dog poop,” Linda Pataky said — loud — so even the sixth graders could hear. I wanted to sink through the floor and disappear forever. But I didn’t.
If you weren’t answering the questions in this interview right now, what would you be doing?
Playing baseball. There’s a vacant lot near my house, and me and six or seven guys from my class usually show up after school. We play until it gets dark. I’m the pitcher. It took some of the guys awhile to get over the whole “girl” thing, but I struck Richie Kramer out, swinging, three times in the same game, and they didn’t say much after that.
Do you have any secrets you would like to share with us before you go?
Hah! Good try! Like I’m going to share a secret with the whole world? Can’t trick me that easy.
Written by Ellen Klages
Publisher’s Synopsis: Every boy in the neighborhood knows Katy Gordon is their best pitcher, even though she’s a girl. But when she tries out for Little League, it’s a whole different story. Girls are not eligible, period. It is a boy’s game and always has been. It’s not fair, and Katy’s going to fight back. Inspired by what she’s learning about civil rights in school, she sets out to prove that she’s not the only girl who plays baseball. With the help of friendly librarians and some tenacious research skills, Katy discovers the forgotten history of female ball players. Why does no one know about them? Where are they now? And how can one ten-year-old change people’s minds about what girls can do?
Set in 1957—the world of Sputnik and Leave It to Beaver, saddle shoes and “Heartbreak Hotel”—Out of Left Field is both a detailed picture of a fascinating historic period and a timelessly inspiring story about standing up for equality at any age.
Ages 8-12 | Publisher: Viking Books for Young Readers | May 1, 2018 | ISBN-13: 978-0425288597
About the Author
ELLEN KLAGES is the author of two acclaimed historical novels: The Green Glass Sea, which won the Scott O’Dell Award and the New Mexico Book Award; and White Sands, Red Menace, which won the California and New Mexico Book awards. Her story “Basement Magic” won a Nebula Award, and “Wakulla Springs,” co-authored with Andy Duncan, was nominated for the Nebula, Hugo, and Locus awards, and won the World Fantasy Award for Best Novella. She is a graduate of Second City’s Improv program, and has a degree in Philosophy from the University of Michigan, leading to many odd jobs that began with the letter P (proofreader, photographer, painter, pinball arcade manager). She lives in San Francisco, in a small house full of strange and wondrous things.
This interview with Katy, a character from Out of Left Field, was conducted between Ellen Klages and Bianca Schulze. For similar books and articles, follow along with our content tagged with Character Development, Character Interviews, Baseball, Ellen Klages, Equal Rights, and Gender Equality Books.