The true story of John Meyers and Charles Bender, who in 1911 became the first two Native pro baseball players to face off in a World Series. This picture book teaches important lessons about resilience, doing what you love in the face of injustice, and the fight for Native American representation in sports.
Charles Bender grew up on the White Earth Reservation in Northwestern Minnesota. John Meyers was raised on the Cahuilla reservation in Southern California. Despite their mutual respect for each other's talents and their shared dedication to Native representation in baseball, the media was determined to pit them against each other.
However, they never gave up on their dreams of being pro baseball players and didn’t let the supposed rivalry created by the media or the racism they faced within the stadium stop them. They continued to break barriers and went on to play a combined total of nine championships.
With text by Traci Sorell and illustrations by Arigon Starr that brings these two players to life, the stories of John Meyers and Charles Bender remain an inspiration for achieving and maintaining one’s dreams in the face of prejudice.
About the Author
Traci Sorell writes fiction and nonfiction books, as well as poems for children. Her debut nonfiction picture book, We Are Grateful: Otsaliheliga, was a Junior Library Guild selection. Her other books for young readers are At The Mountain's Base, which won an American Indian Youth Literature Award, We Are Still Here: Native American Truths, which received five starred reviews, and Classified: The Secret Career of Mary Golda Ross, Cherokee Aerospace Engineer. Traci is also an enrolled citizen of the Cherokee Nation and lives in northeastern Oklahoma, where her tribe is located.
Arigon Starr is an actor, musician, playwright, and comic book writer. She grew up on the road as part of a military family. An enrolled member of the Kickapoo Tribe of Oklahoma, she also has deep roots in the Muscogee (Creek) Nation thanks to her Mom. She has released four music CDs, written many stage plays, created the comic superhero Super Indian and uses her storytelling talents to highlight contemporary Native America.
EARLY PRAISE FOR CONTENDERS By Traci Sorell and Arigon Starr
*“A lesser-known but significant encounter with all-too-current resonances.” —Kirkus, starred review
“. . . an excellent addition to the sports shelves as well as diversity units.” —Booklist
“This has broad appeal for history buffs, sports fans, and social-justice minded kids.” —The Bulletin of the Center for Children’s Books
PRAISE FOR AT THE MOUNTAIN’S BASE By Traci Sorell and Weshoyot Alvitre
*“A first purchase for any library.” —School Library Journal, starred review
*“Captures the emotions of families separated by war while introducing the reader to a part of history that is often erased.” —Horn Book, starred review
*“The meditative text is lovely, and the artwork brings the small Cherokee abode to life with warmth and love.” —Kirkus Reviews, starred review