Bat 6 Discussion Guide
- Grades: 6–8
About this book
Bat 6. That's the softball game played every year between the sixth-grade girls of Barlow and Bear Creek Ridge. All the girls — Beautiful Hair Hallie, Manzanita, the twins Lola and Lila, Tootie, Shadean — have been waiting for their turn at Bat 6 since they could first toss a ball.
This time there's a newcomer on each team: Aki, at first base for the Ridgers, who just returned with her family from a place she's too embarrassed to talk about. And Shazam, center field for Barlow, who's been shunted around by her mother since her father was killed Pearl Harbor on December 7, 1941.
The adults of the two towns would rather not speak about why Aki's family had to "go away." They can't quite admit just how "different" Shazam is. And that is why the two girls are on a collision course that explodes catastrophically on the morning of Bat 6, the day they've been preparing for all their lives.
- This story is told from twenty-one different perspectives. How were you able to keep track of the characters? Does the use of multiple voices and points of view make the story more interesting, or is it too confusing? Give specific examples to support your reasons.
- What makes each character unique? Go through the team rosters at the front of the book and describe each girl.
- Describe Aki's personality traits. Describe Shazam's. How are they different? Are there any ways in which they are alike?
- The setting of 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?
- At first, the girls appear to overlook some of the more troubling aspects of Shazam’s personality because they are so impressed by her athletic ability. What attitudes and actions in your community or in society remind you of the girls’ behavior?
- 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?
- Shazam uses a derogatory term to refer to Japanese people. Do you agree with the author’s choice to use this term? Why do you think the author chose to do so? Explain your opinion. What does it feel like when people you know use racist words that you don't agree with. Do you speak up?
- No one takes the signs of Shazam’s troubled feelings toward Japanese people seriously, and everyone is shocked with they see her act on those feelings at the Bat 6. Do you think their surprise at Shazam’s actions is realistic? Why or why not? 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.
- Bat 6 is a story about working together as a team and as a community. What other stories about sports do you know from movies, books, or television? What themes, including the theme of teamwork, are presented in these stories?