Bat 6

Author Wolff, Virginia Euwer.
Language English
Austin: Holt Rinehard and Winston, 2002


In small town, post-World War Oregon, twenty-one sixth-grade girls recount the story of an annual softball game, during which one girl's bigotry comes to the surface.

Subjects :

  • World War, 1939-1945
  • City and town life
  • Softball
  • Fiction

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Author Illustrator(s) :

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Best Books :

  • Capitol Choices, 2000 The Capitol Choices Committee
  • Adventuring with Books: A Booklist for PreK-Grade 6, 12th Edition, 1999 National Council of Teachers of English
  • Best Children's Books of the Year, 1999 Bank Street College of Education
  • Booklist Book Review Stars, May 1, 1998 American Library Association
  • Books for You: An Annotated Booklist for Senior High, Fourteenth Edition, 2001 National Council of Teachers of English
  • Books to Read Aloud to Children of All Ages, 2003 Bank Street College of Education
  • Capitol Choices, 1998 The Capitol Choices Committee
  • Children's Catalog, Eighteenth Edition, 2001 H.W. Wilson
  • Kaleidoscope, A Multicultural Booklist for Grades K-8, Third Edition, 2001 National Council of Teachers of English
  • Notable Children's Books, 1999 ALSC American Library Association
  • School Library Journal Best Books, 1998 Cahners
  • School Library Journal Book Review Stars, May 1998 Cahners

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Awards, Honors & Prizes :

  • Jane Addams Children's Book Award, 1999 Winner United States

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State & Provincial Reading List :

  • Dorothy Canfield Fisher Children's Book Award, 2000; Nominee Vermont
  • Emphasis on Reading, 1998-1999; Nominee Alabama
  • Emphasis on Reading, 1999-2000; Nominee Alabama
  • Georgia Children's Literature Awards, 2000; Nominee Georgia
  • Massachusetts Children's Book Award, 2001; Massachusetts Children's Book Award Massachusetts

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Curriculum Tools :

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Reading Measurement Programs:

Scholastic Press (New York:) 1998.

Accelerated Reader
Interest Level Middle Grade
Book Level 5.1
Accelerated Reader Points 8

Lexile, MetaMetrics, Inc.

Lexile Measure 930
Accelerated Reader Points

Reading Counts-Scholastic
Interest Level 6-8
Reading Level 5
Accelerated Reader Points 12

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Reviews :

Wende L. Sairio (Audiofile, December/January 2001)
Bat 6 explores values in post-WWII America. The full-cast performance makes this powerful story an exceptional audiobook. Each character tells the same story from her own perspective; each has a distinct voice; each captures the pride, excitement, confusion and pain she feels at different times throughout the story. We hear the anger in Shazam building to an explosion; we sympathize with Aki as she debates honesty versus cultural expectation; and we sense what is coming as each reader records her part in the story. This is a great book to start discussions of prejudice and responsibility with upper-elementary and middle-school students. W.L.S. Winner of AUDIOFILE Earphones Award. (c) AudioFile 2000, Portland, Maine Unabridged. 2000 (orig. 1998), Listening Library, Three cassettes, 5.4 hrs., Retail pak, $22.00.
(PUBLISHER: Listening Library, PUBLISHED: 2000.)

Publishers Weekly (Publishers Weekly)
Wolff's novel about the sentiments of racism, patriotism and guilt that bubble over in two small Oregon towns after World War II here becomes a compelling, if sometimes hard to follow, audiobook. In 1949, the sixth-grade girls of Barlow Road Grade School and Bear Creek Ridge Grade School are ready to stand off in the 50th annual Bat 6 softball game. Teams from both schools practice all year in preparation, and when the historic game arrives, it is sullied by a violent clash between Shazam (Shirley), a Barlow player whose father died at Pearl Harbor, and Aki, a Japanese-American on the Bear Creek team whose family spent several years in an internment camp. Shazam's attack on Aki, an act that breaks Aki's jaw, forces the communities not only to end the game but to reexamine their feelings about the war. The story unfolds as a series of first-person narrations by all 21 players from both teams, a convention that requires a bit of diligence to keep track of the characters. But the youthful-sounding performers have strong, assured voices that will help keep listeners interested. Those who stick with it are rewarded by a dramatic, thought-provoking tale. Ages 10-up. (Apr.)
(PUBLISHER: Listening Library, PUBLISHED: 2000.)

Henry Jack smith (The Lorgnette - Heart of Texas Reviews (Vol. 13, No. 4))
BAT 6 is a personal favorite Listening Library recording from the year 2000. This conclusion was reached after hearing 48 of the year's Listening Library books comprising over 202 hours of tape. BAT 6 is the revered softball game played for 50 years between the sixth grade girls of Barlow and Bear Creek Ridge. In 1949, there is a newcomer on each team. At first base for Bear Creek, Aki has returned with her family from a World War II Japanese-American internment camp. Shazam, center field for Barlow, lost her father during the surprise attack on Pearl Harbor. The two girls are on a collision course that explodes on the morning of BAT 6. The story is told by the members of the opposing teams in a creatively constructed series of monologues. A cast of ten remarkable narrators lend their voices to the novel. The cast's consecutive monologues build the tension in the plot. Grammatical errors are abundant, but the audience quickly realizes that the grammar reflects the educational level of the characters' families. The uses for the audio novel are legion. History teachers may utilize it to expose students to the plight of 120,113 Japanese-American men, women, and children who were interned in ten camps between 1942 and 1945. Librarians will find it to be a much-needed recording in a dearth of stories about girls' competitive sports. Counselors may reach a troubled child with the tape's message of a girl who is suffering mental torment. Mentors may encourage children to hear the unexpected consequences of aggression, prejudice, and pacifism. Physical education teachers may encourage girls to hear the tape as a way to interest them in sports. BAT 6 hits a home run! (Unabridged. 3 audiocassettes. 5 hrs. 18 mins.) Grades 4 and up. 2000, Listening Library, $24.00. Ages 9 up.
(PUBLISHER: Listening Library, PUBLISHED: 2000.)

Michael Cart (Booklist, May 1, 1998 (Vol. 94, No. 17))
Three years after the end of World War II, 11-year-old Aki Mikami and her family return to their home and orchard in Bear Creek Ridge. They've been gone for six years--since the day in 1942 when they were forced to join tens of thousands of other Americans of Japanese ancestry in internment camps. Coinciding with their return, the Japanese-hating Shazam, whose father died at Pearl Harbor, comes to live with her grandmother in the nearby town of Barlow. The ultimate, explosive meeting of the two girls on a softball field as members of opposing sixth-grade teams will demonstrate that wars may end, but the passions they foster--if unexamined--can make victims of the survivors. This ambitious novel is told in 21 different first-person voices; each member of the two girls' softball teams has one or more "turns" at bat as narrator, recounting bits and pieces of the story. Inevitably, a few of the voices sound distractingly similar, but a gratifyingly large number reveal complex, fully realized characters. Gradually, their individual vignettes merge into an extraordinarily artful portrait of a moment in American history that challenged our comfortable assumptions about who we were and what we believed. None of the 21 girls emerges unchanged from what happens during that fateful encounter nor, one predicts, will most readers of this powerful novel. Category: Older Readers. 1998, Scholastic, $16.95. Gr. 5-9. Starred Review.
(PUBLISHER: Scholastic Press (New York:), PUBLISHED: 1998.)

Marilyn Courtot (Children's Literature)
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. 1998, Scholastic, $16.95. Ages 11 up.
(PUBLISHER: Scholastic Press (New York:), PUBLISHED: 1998.)

CCBC (Cooperative Children's Book Center Choices, 1998)
Effective use of multiple perspectives serves both to tell the story and tie theme into structure of this unusual and provocative novel set in 1949. The annual softball game each May between the sixth grade girls of Barlow and Bear Creek Ridge is the biggest event of the year in the two communities. But that year, 1949, something terrible happens during the game, and as the novel begins the girls from both teams have agreed to each tell their own parts of a story that stretches back to the start of the school year and farther in order to try to make sense of what happened. Each of the teams had a new player at the start of the school year. In Bear Creek Ridge, it is Aki, whose family has just returned to the community after years away, most of them spent in a Japanese American internment camp. The new player in Barlow is Shazam, an odd, out-of-synch girl who, it turns out, has been shuttled from place to place ever since her father was killed in the Japanese bombing of Pearl Harbor. The players on the two teams number more than 20, and Virigina Euwer Wolff has made them each part of a narrative in which the whole transcends the individual voice as the girls piece together why Shazam viciously attacked Aki at the game. At the same time, the individual lives of the various girls are distinct, and in addition to exploring issues of race and prejudice, the narrative portrays the barriers between rich and poor among the many girls as well. Rich period details, such as the arrival of the first refrigerator for one girl and her family, heighten the reading experience of the novel. Younger readers may find it difficult to tell the many players apart despite these distinctions in their lives. There is a roster for each team at the beginning of the book and each speaker is clearly identified, but it is difficult to always remember which team she is on. What readers may discover as the narrative progresses, however, is that it doesn't really matter. They are all part of a larger community that is woven out of the truth of their collective voice. Honor Books, CCBC Newbery Award CCBC categories: Fiction for Children. 1998, Scholastic, 230 pages, $16.95. Ages 10-14.
(PUBLISHER: Scholastic Press (New York:), PUBLISHED: 1998.)

Kirkus (Kirkus Reviews, 1998)
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. 1998, Scholastic, $16.95. © 1998 Kirkus Reviews/VNU eMedia, Inc. All rights reserved.
(PUBLISHER: Scholastic Press (New York:), PUBLISHED: 1998.)

Publishers Weekly (Publishers 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)
(PUBLISHER: Scholastic Press (New York:), PUBLISHED: 1998.)

Elizabeth Bush (The Bulletin of the Center for Children’s Books, June 1998 (Vol. 51, No. 10))
Bat 6, an annual girl’s softball competition between rival California towns of Barlow and Bear Creek Ridge, has for decades been a source of civic pride in the two communities and an honor to the girls who play in it. The fiftieth match in 1949 ends in tragedy and shame, though, when Barlow’s center fielder, Shazam, purposely and seriously injures Ridge first baseman, Aki. Through the authentically drawn testimonies of each player on the teams, Wolff reconstructs the events which led to the assault and their hidden roots in World War II. Shazam, whose father was killed at Pearl Harbor, has been taught all her life to blame all Japanese for his death; Aki, whose family was interned in a camp during the war, has not fully reacclimated to her old community. Although the players blame themselves for ignoring a myriad of faint “signs” that Shazam is a deeply troubled child, it becomes clear that the adults in the two towns are more culpable; in their haste to return to normalcy after the war, they have swept all unpleasantness under the rug, out of their children’s sight. Although they welcome Aki’s family back to the neighborhood, they do not openly acknowledge their shame over the internment; although they pity Shazam’s widowed mother, they whisper about her “loose” morals with ill-concealed glee. This is a gripping confrontation of the war wounds suffered after armistice by those who never held, or even saw, a weapon. (Reviewed from galleys) Review Code: R -- Recommended. (c) Copyright 1998, The Board of Trustees of the University of Illinois. 1998, Scholastic, 240p, $16.95. Grades 5-9.
(PUBLISHER: Scholastic Press (New York:), PUBLISHED: 1998.)

Bill Mollineaux (VOYA, June 1998 (Vol. 21, No. 2))
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 any better written; Broad general YA appeal; Middle School, defined as grades 6 to 8; Junior High, defined as grades 7 to 9). 1998, Scholastic, 240p., $16.95. Ages 11 to 15.
(PUBLISHER: Scholastic Press (New York:), PUBLISHED: 1998.)

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Publication Details:

  Publisher ISBN Notes
Austin: Holt Rinehard and Winston, 2002

Media Type: Language Material
249 p. ;
MLCS 2006/13709 (P)
Newport Beach CA: Books on Tape, 2000

Media Type: Nonmusical Sound Recording
3 sound cassettes (4 1/2 hrs.):
Listening Library, 2000

Media Type: Nonmusical Sound Recording
Unabridged version.
New York: Scholastic Press, 1998

Media Type: Language Material
229 p.:
PZ7.W82129 ([Fic])

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