Warrior on the Mound Available Now for Pre-Order!

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It’s 1939. Twelve-year-old Cato Jones wants nothing more than to play baseball, perfect his pitch, and become the best pitcher in the Negro League, like his father was. Daddy Mo is still Cato’s hero, even though he died years ago on a back road in mysterious circumstances. . . circumstances that Cato’s heartbroken grandparents refuse to discuss. But when Cato and his teammates “trespass” on their white rivals’ field out of curiosity, the resulting racial outrage burns like a brushfire through the entire community, threatening the whole of Sycamore Grove—and revealing old, painful secrets.

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

Written in first person with a heartfelt, convincing voice, Warrior on the Mound is about the experience of segregation; about social injustice; about the tinderbox environment of the prewar South; about having a dream; and, finally, about the power of dialogue and friendship. This riveting and ultimately optimistic novel from a remarkable new voice will transport readers to a world of red clay, penny candy, damp heat, and old biases—and offer them the hope of a better tomorrow.

Sandra W. Headen, former faculty and researcher at The School of Public Health, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, is a full-time writer. Warrior on the Mound won 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 Jacob/Jones African-American Literary Prize by the North Carolina Writers’ Network.

Sandra W. Headen
Children’s Books & Middle Grade Fiction

I write fiction for middle grade readers. My stories could have been ripped from the headlines of America’s past. The characters that burst into my thoughts, wanting me to tell their stories, have big dreams and work hard to achieve their goals in spite of obstacles that come crashing into their lives. But they are fighters! And they never give up!

Short Bio: 

For most of my working life, I taught graduate students pursuing degrees in Clinical Psychology and Public Health. I also designed and evaluated programs to promote healthy behaviors in African American communities. When presented with a chance to fold writing into the fabric of my life, I enrolled in a small writing class and eventually wrote a book. It was so much fun! I’ve been writing ever since.


Writing Awards:

  • Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators: On the Verge/Emerging Voices Award (for writers from underrepresented groups)


  • North Carolina Writer’s Network: The Jacobs/Jones African American Literary Award


  • The Writers Colony at Dairy Hollow: Residential Scholarship

Some Fun Facts About Me:

  • I am a good amateur sculptor. I’ve made two heads and one full figure from live models.
  • I’d LOVE to buy a ticket on Sir Richard Branson’s VSS Unity SpaceShipTwo. Because it has wings!
  • My favorite superheroes are The Black Panther, Iron Man, and Dr. Strange. There’s lots of science in their worlds!
  • My first novel was a sequel to the Wizard of Oz. I was ten years old when I wrote it. This time, a Black girl was whisked into a magic kingdom.

Some of my Favorite Middle Grade Books:

  • The Detective’s Assistant by Kate Hannigan
  • *Chains by Laurie Hals Anderson
  • *The Hero Two Doors Down by Sharon Robinson
  • *The Night Diary by Veera Hiranandana
  • *Keeping Score by Linda Sue Park
  • *The Brooklyn Nine by Alan Gratz
  • The Crossover by Kwame Alexander
  • Clap When You Land by Elizabeth Acevedo
  • Clayton Byrd Goes Underground by Rita Williams-Garcia
  • Behind You by Jacqueline Woodson
  • Long Way Down by Jason Reynolds
  • *Code Name Verity by Elizabeth E. Wein
  • Out of My Mind by Sharon Draper
  • *Sing a Song by Kelly Starling Lyons


(*I love historical fiction.)



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