cover image Bat 6

Bat 6

Virginia Euwer Wolff. Listening Library, $22 (0pp) ISBN 978-0-553-52663-9

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.)