Bat 6

Bat 6

3.8 16
by Virginia Euwer Wolff

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Bat 6 that's the softball game played every year between the sixth grade girls of Barlow and Bear Creek Ridge. All the girls - Beautiful Hair Hallie, Manzanita who gets the spirit, the twins Lola and Lila, Tootie, Shadean - they've been waiting for their turn at Bat 6 since they could first toss a ball.

This time there's a newcomer on each team: Aki, at

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Bat 6 that's the softball game played every year between the sixth grade girls of Barlow and Bear Creek Ridge. All the girls - Beautiful Hair Hallie, Manzanita who gets the spirit, the twins Lola and Lila, Tootie, Shadean - they've been waiting for their turn at Bat 6 since they could first toss a ball.

This time there's a newcomer on each team: Aki, at first base for the Ridgers, who just returned with her family from a place she's too embarrassed to talk about. And Shazam, center field for Barlow, who's been shunted around by her mother since her father was killed on December 7, 1941.

The adults of the two towns would rather not speak about why Aki's family has to "go away." They can't quite admit just how "different" Shazam is. And that is why the two girls are on a collision course that explodes catastrophically on the morning of Bat 6, the day they've been preparing for all their lives.

Cast includes:

  • Rachel Antonoff
  • Blythe Auffarth
  • Vivian Bayubay
  • Michelle Damato
  • Laura Hamilton
  • Jenna Lamia
  • Christy Romano
  • Eden Riegel
  • Tara Sands
  • Kate Simses

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
Wolff's (Make Lemonade) ambitious but ultimately unsuccessful novel explores prejudice via a baseball game between the sixth grade girls of Bear Creek Ridge and Barlow Road Grade Schools on May 28, 1949. "Now that it's over, we are telling. We voted to, it's fairer than not," begins Tootie, the catcher for Bear Creek Ridge, in what appears to be the start of a series of flashback testimonials. But not all of the 21 girls' accounts adhere to this format, and readers never discover whom the girls are addressing. Some of the characters speak only a few times, and since readers never get to know them, their voices run together in a miscellany. The actual conflict, when Shazam, whose father died at Pearl Harbor, in a run to first base, assaults Aki, the Japanese first baseman,occurs more than halfway through the book. The most distinct voices belong to Shazam (who speaks in a stream-of-consciousness style, "Sneaky Japs never warned nobody they snuck behind our backs dropped bombs right in my fathers ship the Arizona he was down in it without no warning") and to Aki, whose perspective is markedly different from the other girls'. Shazam exposes much of her troubled background through her narratives, and Aki reveals some fascinating cultural details as well as provides insight into life in an internment camp. However, because readers are only acquainted with the two through a few lengthy accounts interspersed among the other 19 girls, the change in both of them (especially in Shazam) at story's end seems sudden and hollow. While readers cannot help but admire the stalwart Aki, they will likely walk away from this book trying to make sense of who these characters were and what they were trying to say. Ages 10-13. (May)
Children's Literature - Marilyn Courtot
With a girls softball competition as the setting, Wolff probes into issues of racial prejudice, illegitimacy, and life in a small town. It is 1949 and Aki and her family have returned to town after spending several years in a Japanese internment camp. Also new in town is Shirley, "aka Shazam," whose father was killed during the war. The story of the annual baseball competition, Shazam's attack on Aki and all that surrounds it, is told through the mouths of each of the team members. It is fascinating, and readers are quickly pulled into the story. The grammar and vocabulary shift with the speaker, which sometimes makes the reading difficult, but the effort is worth it.
VOYA - Bill Mollineaux
When Wolff begins her novel with "Now that it's over, we are telling," and throughout the story has several characters rightly blaming themselves for not seeing "it," the reader is hooked and stays hooked. For forty-nine years, the women of the rural Oregon towns of Barlow and Bear Creek Ridge have held an annual softball game, originally and successfully initiated by the women to bring the arguing men of these two towns together. After all, how could they watch an entire softball game without speaking to each other? Eventually, the game came to be played by the sixth-grade girls of each town's grade school. The fiftieth anniversary game was to be very special, and it proved to an unexpected way. During the year, each team receives a new player good enough to make the difference between winning and losing. For Bear Creek Ridge it is Aki Mikami, who has returned to town with her Japanese family following their World War II exile in a detention camp. Meanwhile, Shirley, better known as Shazam, comes to the Barlow team, arriving in town to live with her grandmother. Shazam turns out to be more than Captain Marvel's magic lightning; it is she who causes "it," which the twenty-one players in this game describe, each from her own perspective. Extremely slow in school and emotionally troubled, Shazam lives with her grandmother while her mother "gets back on her feet." Troubled by the fact that her father was killed at Pearl Harbor, she is filled with hatred toward the Japanese. As the story unfolds, this hatred is revealed in her reactions to seeing a six-year-old Japanese boy in the schoolyard, an elderly Japanese man visit a friend's house, Aki in a Christmas pageant, and Aki extend her hand in the preliminaries before the big game. So indelibly is December 7, 1941, burned into Shazam's mind that she chooses jersey number 7 as her uniform. Finally, as she runs to first base in the game, her festering hatred erupts as she deliberately elbows Aki in the head, seriously injuring her. Concomitantly, Wolff paints a picture of small-town America in the forties that shows its beliefs, attitudes, and values, including the effects of the G. I. Bill, having a child out of wedlock, racial and religious prejudice, and the consequences of being a conscientious objector. Two books that complement this one are Jean Wakatsuki Houston and James D. Houston's Farewell to Manzanar (Houghton, 1973, pb. reissue Bantam, 1983) and Ken Mochizuki's picture book Baseball Saved Us (Lee & Low, 1993). VOYA Codes: 5Q 4P M J (Hard to imagine it being better written, Broad general YA appeal, Middle School-defined as grades 6 to 8 and Junior High-defined as grades 7 to 9).
School Library Journal
Gr 4-7-Virginia Euwer Wolff's story (Scholastic, 1998) about a sixth-grade girl's softball team set in the post-war 1940's is even better to listen to than it is to read. Barlow and Bear Creek Ridge have been playing softball against each other for 50 years. This year brings tragedy for both teams when Aki, a Japanese-American on the Ridgers Team, and Shazam, who lost her father at Pearl Harbor and who plays for the Barlow Team, meet each other on the playing field. The ten voices on this full-cast production make listeners feel like they are hearing the girls tell their own story. Aural quality is good, and the different voices can be identified easily. An excellent addition to any collection.-Saleena L. Davidson, South Brunswick Public Library, NJ Copyright 2000 Cahners Business Information.
Horn Book Magazine
Set against the backdrop of a softball game played between two small rural towns in Oregon in 1949, this novel reveals, among other things, the lingering aftereffects of war. The sixth-grade girls from Barlow and Bear Creek Ridge have spent the year practicing for a softball game that has been an annual event since 1900. Now, during the fiftieth anniversary game, an incident occurs that upsets the sanguine assumptions of the citizens. The central action revolves around Shazam, a deeply troubled girl whose father was killed at Pearl Harbor and who has been nursing an abiding hatred for the Japanese ever since, and Aki, a Japanese-American girl. Aki and her family have recently returned home after spending the war years in an internment camp. Early in the game (but late in the novel), Shazam attacks Aki, injuring her severely. The game ends abruptly, and all the players -and many of the adults- are left to wonder what share of the responsibility they bear. The story is narrated in brief first-person retrospective accounts from all twenty-one girls on both teams, and it is sometimes difficult to distinguish one voice from another. But the characters are engaging for the most part, and while Aki's characterization seems a bit too stereotypical, Shazam is a complex and compelling protagonist. Wolff's evocation of period and place, on the other hand, is indisputably masterful. The questions she raises about war, race, and cherished beliefs are difficult and honest and a welcome antidote to more romanticized versions of the years following the "last good war."
Kirkus Reviews
In Bear Creek Ridge and Barlow, two small Oregon towns, everyone is looking forward to the Bat 6 girls' softball game of 1949. Both towns make plans to cheer the sixth graders on, all in the name of good, clean fun. This simple, small-town portrait of Americana is shattered, however, when a racial incident occurs at the 50th annual game: One player, Shirley, whose father was killed at Pearl Harbor, slams her elbow into the face of Aki, a Japanese-American. It brings the game to a halt, and inspires the townspeople to debate and examine what exactly has gone wrong in the years since WW II ended. Guilt hangs over both towns: Could anyone have prevented the incident? Shirley had not concealed her hatred of "Japs," yet no one had believed that such a troubled girl would act on her feelings. Through the first-person narrations of the 21 girls of the two teams, the story emerges, and while few of the voices are truly distinct, their emotions and perspectives ring true. Wolff (Make Lemonade, 1993, etc.) is especially deft in creating a transforming, bittersweet post-war atmosphere and winning portraits of members of the communities who support, respect, and encourage their young girls, but come to question their own roles in the tragedy. (Fiction. 12-14)

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Product Details

Scholastic, Inc.
Publication date:
Edition description:
Sales rank:
Product dimensions:
5.27(w) x 7.57(h) x 0.62(d)
Age Range:
8 - 12 Years

Meet the Author

Virginia Euwer Wolff is the author of books which have been named ALA/YASD Best Books and School Library Journal's Best Books, in addition to other awards.

"Our daily news is filled with children doing horrifying things," says Ms. Wolff, "and I'm fascinated by the question:  What is it we notice about these kids but decide not to acknowledge?"

Ms. Wolff was born and raised in Oregon, Virginia.  She currently lives in a house in the woods of Oregon City.

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