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If you're a girl at Bear Creek Ridge or Barlow Road grade school, being a sixth grader means softball. It means practicing all year for one game, the Bat 6. For fifty years, girls from these two schools have competed in an annual softball game. It's supposed to be a time to have fun and show good sportsmanship.
But in 1949, the year this story takes place, the game is going to show something very different. This year, the Barlow team has a new player. Shazam dresses strangely and has a hard time in school, but she's a great softball player. What the team doesn't know is that Shazam also has emotional problems: Her father was killed in the attack on Pearl Harbor, and Shazam hates anyone who looks Japanese, including Japanese-Americans. And Aki, the first base player for Bear Creek Ridge, is Japanese-American.
To find out what happens at the Bat 6 through the eyes of the 21 players at the game, read Bat 6 by Oregon author Virginia Euwer Wolff.
- Bat 6 is a unique novel, featuring twenty-one different characters who take turns telling their point of view. How were you able to keep track of the characters? Do you like this style of writing?
- What makes each character unique? Go through the team rosters at the front of the book and describe each girl.
- What started the Bat 6 game 50 years ago? (pg. 29)
- Describe Aki's personality traits. Describe Shazam's. How are they different? Are there any ways in which they are alike?
- Bat 6 takes place just after World War II. How are the people in town trying to heal the wounds of war? Who is still fighting? How does the community welcome back Aki's family?
- Audrey, the catcher for Barlow, notices that, "There was a odd thing about Shazam's eyes. When it was people she was looking at, they shifted around. But when it was a ball, she kept her eyes on it with full concentration." (pg. 21). What do you think this reveals about Shazam?
- Read some of Shazam's entries out loud. How are they "different" from the other girls' entries?
- Ila Mae is surprised when Shazam uses the word "Japs." What does it feel like when people you know use racist words that you don't agree with. Do you speak up?
- A few of the characters in the story knew that Shazam felt hostility toward Japanese people well before the spring ballgame occurred. Do you think Ila Mae, Hallie, or Hallie's dad could have done anything to prevent what happened?
- Read the author's note out loud. What did you know about Japanese-American internment camps before reading this book?
- Compare the hardcover and paperback editions. What is different about the two? Take a closer look at the hardcover edition. Discuss the meaning of the advertisements used in the jacket cover.
If you liked this book, try
- Dangerous Skies by Suzanne Fisher Staples
- Journey to Topaz by Yoshiko Uchida
- Our Only May Amelia by Jennifer Holm
- Lily's Crossing by Patricia Reilly Giff
- Seedfolks by Paul Fleischman
- The War in Georgia by Jerrie Oughton
Mrs. Rayfield's Apple Spice Cake: recipe in the back of the book.
Created in part with funds granted by the Oregon State Library under the Library Services and Technology Act, administered by the Oregon State Library.