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Warrior on the Mound
Sandra W. Headen


Narrated by twelve-year-old Cato, this intense and evocative story of racial unrest in prewar North Carolina ends with a dramatic match between white and Black little league teams.

1935. Twelve-year-old Cato wants nothing more than to play baseball, perfect his pitch, and meet Mr. Satchel Paige––the best pitcher in Negro League baseball. But when he and his teammates “trespass” on their town’s whites-only baseball field for a practice, the resulting racial outrage burns like a brushfire through the entire community, threatening Cato, his family, and every one of his friends.

There’s only one way this can end without violence: It has to be settled on the mound, between the white team and the Black. Winner takes all.  

Written in first person with a rich, convincing voice, Warrior on the Mound is about the experience of segregation; about the tinderbox environment of the prewar South; about having a dream; about injustice, and, finally, about dialogue.

Back matter includes an author’s note, historical background, biographical information about Negro League players, and more.


Sandra W. Headen, a former teacher and researcher at Chapel Hill, is a full-time writer. Her historical middle-grade novel, Warrior on the Mound was awarded SCBWI’s On-the-Verge/Emerging Voices Award for writers from underrepresented groups; in addition, her short story Papa's Gifts (The Carolina Quarterly, March 2019) was awarded the Jones African-American Literary Award by the North Carolina Writers’ Network.


“This engaging novel tackles themes of bullying, ­racism, segregation, strength, and forgiveness. . . A home run of a book that is brave enough to speak the hard truths. . .” -- School Library Journal, starred review

“An outstanding blend of history, sports, and coming of age: not to be missed.” --Kirkus Reviews, starred review

“Along with creating a protagonist strong enough to exercise good judgment despite provocation, the author assembles a cast rich in people of good will. . .” -- Booklist

“The protagonist’s first-person POV adds immediacy to this emotionally charged sports novel, making for a winning combination of action-driven plotting and underlying historical tension that will inspire discussion surrounding Jim Crow era and contemporary prejudice.” -- Publishers Weekly

[H]  Holiday House  /  March 05, 2024

0.94" H x 8.35" L x 5.59" W (0.7 lbs) 272 pages

For ages 8 to 12