BAT 6

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)

Pub Date: May 1, 1998

ISBN: 0-590-89799-3

Page Count: 226

Publisher: Scholastic

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1, 1998

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THE BOY IN THE STRIPED PAJAMAS

After Hitler appoints Bruno’s father commandant of Auschwitz, Bruno (nine) is unhappy with his new surroundings compared to the luxury of his home in Berlin. The literal-minded Bruno, with amazingly little political and social awareness, never gains comprehension of the prisoners (all in “striped pajamas”) or the malignant nature of the death camp. He overcomes loneliness and isolation only when he discovers another boy, Shmuel, on the other side of the camp’s fence. For months, the two meet, becoming secret best friends even though they can never play together. Although Bruno’s family corrects him, he childishly calls the camp “Out-With” and the Fuhrer “Fury.” As a literary device, it could be said to be credibly rooted in Bruno’s consistent, guileless characterization, though it’s difficult to believe in reality. The tragic story’s point of view is unique: the corrosive effect of brutality on Nazi family life as seen through the eyes of a naïf. Some will believe that the fable form, in which the illogical may serve the objective of moral instruction, succeeds in Boyle’s narrative; others will believe it was the wrong choice. Certain to provoke controversy and difficult to see as a book for children, who could easily miss the painful point. (Fiction. 12-14)

Pub Date: Sept. 12, 2006

ISBN: 0-385-75106-0

Page Count: 224

Publisher: David Fickling/Random

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2006

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WHAT THE MOON SAW

When Clara Luna, 14, visits rural Mexico for the summer to visit the paternal grandparents she has never met, she cannot know her trip will involve an emotional and spiritual journey into her family’s past and a deep connection to a rich heritage of which she was barely aware. Long estranged from his parents, Clara’s father had entered the U.S. illegally years before, subsequently becoming a successful business owner who never spoke about what he left behind. Clara’s journey into her grandmother’s history (told in alternating chapters with Clara’s own first-person narrative) and her discovery that she, like her grandmother and ancestors, has a gift for healing, awakens her to the simple, mystical joys of a rural lifestyle she comes to love and wholly embrace. Painfully aware of not fitting into suburban teen life in her native Maryland, Clara awakens to feeling alive in Mexico and realizes a sweet first love with Pedro, a charming goat herder. Beautifully written, this is filled with evocative language that is rich in imagery and nuance and speaks to the connections that bind us all. Add a thrilling adventure and all the makings of an entrancing read are here. (glossaries) (Fiction. 12-14)

Pub Date: Sept. 12, 2006

ISBN: 0-385-73343-7

Page Count: 272

Publisher: Delacorte

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 2006

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