In a powerful book set in post-World War II Oregon, sixth graders from rival towns prepare for the 50th annual softball game. Two of the players--a Japanese American who spent the war in an internment camp and a girl whose father was killed at Pearl Harbor--collide with tragic results on the day of the big game.In a powerful book set in post-World War II Oregon, sixth graders from rival towns prepare for the 50th annual softball game. Two of the players--a Japanese American who spent the war in an internment camp and a girl whose father was killed at Pearl Harbor--collide with tragic results on the day of the big game.Read Less
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Publishers Weekly, 2000-06-12 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.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved
Publishers Weekly, 1998-04-20 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 conflictĉwhen Shazam, whose father died at Pearl Harbor, in a run to first base, assaults Aki, the Japanese first basemanĉoccurs 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)
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