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Step Up to the Plate, Maria Singh



by
Uma Krishnaswami

Edition
Hardcover edition
Publisher
Lee & Low Books
Imprint
Tu
ISBN
9781600602610

Awards and Honors
2018 Asian/Pacific American Award for Literature, Children’s Literature
2018 Amelia Bloomer List: Middle Grade, Fiction
CCBC Choices 2018 Choice: Fiction for Children
POTENTIALLY SENSITIVE AREAS
Discrimination: Reference/Discussion, Violence: War/Harsh Realities of War, Violence: Mild Violence, Discrimination: Racial Insensitivity/Racism
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Nine-year-old Maria Singh learns to play softball just like her heroes in the All-American Girls' League, while her parents and neighbors are struggling through World War II. Index of poems. Black-and-white illustrations. "The History Behind Maria's Story."

POTENTIALLY SENSITIVE AREAS
Discrimination: Reference/Discussion, Violence: War/Harsh Realities of War, Violence: Mild Violence, Discrimination: Racial Insensitivity/Racism

Details

Format

Print

Page Count

288

Trim Size

5 1/4" x 7 3/4"

Dewey

F

AR

4.9: points 7

Lexile

680L

Genre

Fiction

Scholastic Reading Counts

11

JLG Release

Oct 2017

Book Genres


Topics

World War II (1939–1945). Farm life. California. Softball. East Indian Americans. Mexican Americans. Racially mixed people. Twentieth-century California history.

Standard MARC Records

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Cover Art

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Praise & Reviews

Starred or favorable reviews have been received from these periodicals:

Bulletin of the Center for Children’s Books, The Horn Book Magazine, Kirkus Reviews, School Library Journal

School Library Journal

All fifth grader Maria Singh can think about is playing baseball. She confronts many challenges in pursuit of this dream, from convincing her father to let her wear shorts to getting the city council to approve a baseball field for her neighborhood. Maria is part of a community of families in World War II-era California. Many of the fathers in this community emigrated from India and married Mexican American women. Maria begins to see how much the institutionalized racism and individual prejudice they face weigh on her parents. Characters are well developed, and relationships are richly complex. Even the local mean girl becomes sympathetic as Maria learns that she and her family are being discriminated against because of their German ancestry. Krishnaswami skillfully handles issues of racism and sexism in a realistic and age-appropriate way. Although the cultural setting is very well defined, sometimes the historical background information can feel wedged into the story. However, this is a minor flaw, and Maria’s realistic challenges and passion to play ball will keep young readers engaged. VERDICT This historical sports story will appeal to many elementary-aged students and provides a rich basis for a discussion of prejudice and the importance of standing up for one’s beliefs. Recommended.—Gesse Stark-Smith, Multnomah County Library, Portland, OR

Horn Book

“Don’t let it stop you, honey. Don’t you let nothing stop you. Promise me.” In World War II California, women like protagonist Maria’s beloved auntie, Tía Manuela, are working in factories, and in elementary schools girls are breaking barriers by playing team sports. Maria’s teacher urges her female students to join a new softball team, a game Maria adores, but which means convincing Mamá and Papi to let her wear shorts and run around on a ball field. While Maria enjoys her newfound empowerment, her parents struggle to make ends meet as sharecroppers. The owner is selling his property, but Maria’s Sikh father cannot buy the lease on the land he farms because as an immigrant from India, he is barred from owning land in California. (By marrying him, her Mexican mother also gave up that right.) In a community of biracial children from similar mixed marriages, Maria and her friends strive to help their parents and themselves, speaking out at a public meeting to urge the county to build them a ballfield and learning to fight discrimination from Anglos, kids and adults alike. In clean, nuanced prose, Krishnaswami has created a heroine with whom many children will identify, whatever their backgrounds and interests. This feminist book doesn’t shy away from the political (“They knew how democracy worked, how some people were allowed to be a part of it and others were not”) and will pair well with other middle-grade historical novels about the struggle for civil rights. sarah hannah gómez

Praise & Reviews

School Library Journal

All fifth grader Maria Singh can think about is playing baseball. She confronts many challenges in pursuit of this dream, from convincing her father to let her wear shorts to getting the city council to approve a baseball field for her neighborhood. Maria is part of a community of families in World War II-era California. Many of the fathers in this community emigrated from India and married Mexican American women. Maria begins to see how much the institutionalized racism and individual prejudice they face weigh on her parents. Characters are well developed, and relationships are richly complex. Even the local mean girl becomes sympathetic as Maria learns that she and her family are being discriminated against because of their German ancestry. Krishnaswami skillfully handles issues of racism and sexism in a realistic and age-appropriate way. Although the cultural setting is very well defined, sometimes the historical background information can feel wedged into the story. However, this is a minor flaw, and Maria’s realistic challenges and passion to play ball will keep young readers engaged. VERDICT This historical sports story will appeal to many elementary-aged students and provides a rich basis for a discussion of prejudice and the importance of standing up for one’s beliefs. Recommended.—Gesse Stark-Smith, Multnomah County Library, Portland, OR

Horn Book

“Don’t let it stop you, honey. Don’t you let nothing stop you. Promise me.” In World War II California, women like protagonist Maria’s beloved auntie, Tía Manuela, are working in factories, and in elementary schools girls are breaking barriers by playing team sports. Maria’s teacher urges her female students to join a new softball team, a game Maria adores, but which means convincing Mamá and Papi to let her wear shorts and run around on a ball field. While Maria enjoys her newfound empowerment, her parents struggle to make ends meet as sharecroppers. The owner is selling his property, but Maria’s Sikh father cannot buy the lease on the land he farms because as an immigrant from India, he is barred from owning land in California. (By marrying him, her Mexican mother also gave up that right.) In a community of biracial children from similar mixed marriages, Maria and her friends strive to help their parents and themselves, speaking out at a public meeting to urge the county to build them a ballfield and learning to fight discrimination from Anglos, kids and adults alike. In clean, nuanced prose, Krishnaswami has created a heroine with whom many children will identify, whatever their backgrounds and interests. This feminist book doesn’t shy away from the political (“They knew how democracy worked, how some people were allowed to be a part of it and others were not”) and will pair well with other middle-grade historical novels about the struggle for civil rights. sarah hannah gómez

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