Bat 6 by Virgina Euwer Wolff

Bat 6. By Virginia Euwer Wolff. Scholastic Inc., 1998.  240 pages. $5.99

Plot: The 6th grade girls on the softball teams from neighboring Bear Creek Ridge and Barlow Road Grade Schools have a friendly rivalry.  This rivalry began 49 years ago, when the 6th grade girls softball teams from both schools played a game, the Bat 6, against each other in order to bring the two communities, which had had an unfriendly rivalry, together.  It worked.  And, the Bat 6 game has been happening ever since.  And this year, 1949, is the 50th anniversary Bat 6 game.  The girls on both teams look forward to making history.  And each team has a new player.  Aki’s family has returned to Bear Creek Ridge after being released from a Japanese internment camp; her mother was the MVP in the 1930 Bat 6, and Aki seems to have inherited her mother’s softball talents.  Shazam (Shirley), came to Barlow to live with her grandmother until her own mother gets “on her feet,” he father was killed on a ship in Pearl Harbor.  Shazam is a bit odd, but a phenomenal player who can catch and throw with BOTH hands.  Both girls’ lives were forever changed by the war, and both have private thoughts about their experiences.  Will those private thoughts come out in the open? Will the other girls understand what is going on? Who will win the game?

Review: Told from the perspective of each of the 21 girls, part by part in each chapter, Bat 6, is a little confusing to read, but well worth it.  The voice of each girl is unique and authentic, and their takes on the happenings of the story provide insight to the reader about events as well as thoughts and feelings of the times. The aftermath of World War II, including anti-Japanese racism and sadness over lost lives, is presented from many perspectives and gives readers a feel for the varying views of people of the day.  With honest voices and dramatic circumstances Bat 6 is both interesting, accessible and compelling.

Genre(s): Historical Fiction, Realistic Fiction,

Reading/Interest Level: 9-11 years

Available in: Hardcover, Paperback, Audiobook

Similar books: Witness, Walk Two Moons

ISBN: 978-0590898003

Subjects: softball, World War II, racism, Japanese internment camps, Pearl Harbor, death of a parent

Selected Awards: 1999 Jane Addams Peace Award, 1999 ALA Notable Book,
1998 New York Public Library 100 Best Books of the Year, 1998 School Library Journal Best Book of the Year

Character Names:

Bear Creek Ridge Grade School Team

Shadean: Pitcher

Tootie: Catcher

Aki: First Base

Kate: Second Base

Ellen: Short Stop

Daisy (Loose Lips): Third Base

Little Peggy: Right Field

Lorelei: Center Field

Susannah: Left Field

Vernell: Manager and General Sub

Mrs. Porter: Coach

Mr. Porter: Assistant Coach

Barlow Road Grade School Team

Ila Mae: Pitcher

Audrey: Catcher

Wink: First Base

Brita Marie: Second Base

Alva: Short Stop

Darlene: Third Base

Beautiful Hair Hallie: Right Field

Shazam: Center Field

Manzanita: Left Field

Lola and Lila: Manager and General Subs

Mr. Rayfield: Coach

Dotty Rayfield: Assistant Coach

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