Queen of the Diamond

“Using the classic struggle between the underdog and the powerful, McCully introduces Lizzie Murphy, who, at the beginning of the twentieth century, parlays her love for baseball into a successful career. Lizzie’s childhood and teen years take center field: she demonstrates her early skills in throwing, catching, and hitting; her love of the game; and a dogged persistence that leads to playing on two amateur boys’ teams. At age eighteen, she seizes an opportunity to play professional ball, where she draws big crowds more because of her gender than her considerable skill. Still, Murphy is denied a salary until she fights for equal pay, going toe-to-toe with the team’s manager. Impressionistic ink and watercolor illustrations subtly depict Lizzie as slightly different from the crowd: her patterned dresses blend with the boys’ outfits but are nonetheless distinctive; her posture is less slouchy than that of the men on the professional teams. McCully shows readers that even though Lizzie loves baseball, she has other pursuits as well; she works in a mill, plays the violin, and participates in both ice hockey and competitive swimming. But recognizing her passion and finding a way to make it her life’s work is Murphy’s gift and the heart of McCully’s story. Appended with a bibliography and an author’s note that tells more about Murphy’s career.”

-School Library Journal

“In the early 20th century, girls weren’t supposed to play baseball, but Rhode Islander Lizzie Murphy loved the game. Chutzpah and talent landed the redhead on two amateur teams before a manager let her play semipro: “ ‘Sure, we’ll start you at first base,’ he said. His eyes twinkled. He was thinking that people would come in droves to see a girl on the field.” But Murphy was more than a spectacle, demanding pay equal to male players and eventually joining the Boston All-Stars, an afterword notes. McCully shows a keen eye for the attire and social mores of the era in a rousing story of a girl’s dedication to the sport she loves. Ages 5–8. “

-Publishers Weekly

“…recognizing her passion and finding a way to make it her life’s work is Murphy’s gift and the heart of McCully’s story.”

Horn Book

“Caldecott medalist McCully tells this compelling story skillfully. The gradual growth of the character is particularly well done in the lively ink drawings with watercolor washes, which bring Murphy and her era sharply into focus.”


“The scenes that show her being shunned and then gradually accepted by the boys are particularly well done. The dialogue-heavy narrative and subject matter will easily appeal to readers. McCully’s book is both a good all-round baseball story and an inspirational story about believing in oneself and overcoming opposition. An excellent choice.”

School Library Journal