Step Up to the Plate, Maria Singh

by Uma Krishnaswami (Author)

Step Up to the Plate, Maria Singh
Reading Level: 4th − 5th Grade
Nine-year-old Maria Singh longs to play softball in the first-ever girls' team forming in Yuba City, California. It's the spring of 1945, and World War II is dragging on. Miss Newman, Maria's teacher, is inspired by Babe Ruth and the All-American Girls' League to start a girls' softball team at their school. Meanwhile, Maria's parents--Papi from India and Mamá from Mexico--can no longer protect their children from prejudice and from the discriminatory laws of the land. When the family is on the brink of losing their farm, Maria must decide if she has what it takes to step up and find her voice in an unfair world. In this fascinating middle grade novel, award-winning author Uma Krishnaswami sheds light on a little-known chapter of American history set in a community whose families made multicultural choices before the word had been invented.
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School Library Journal

Gr 3-5--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

Copyright 2017 School Library Journal, LLC Used with permission.
Uma Krishnaswami

Uma Krishnaswami is the author of several books for children, including Naming Maya. She was born in New Delhi, India, and now lives in Aztec, New Mexico.

Jamel Akib grew up in Malaysia and now lives in Leigh-on-Sea, England. Monsoon is his first picture book.

Lexile Measure
Guided Reading Level
Tu Books
Publication date
May 20, 2017
BISAC categories
JUV011020 - Juvenile Fiction | People & Places | United States - Asian American
JUV016150 - Juvenile Fiction | Historical | United States - 20th Century
JUV039120 - Juvenile Fiction | Social Themes | Prejudice & Racism
JUV032010 - Juvenile Fiction | Sports & Recreation | Baseball
JUV011030 - Juvenile Fiction | People & Places | United States - Hispanic & Latino
Library of Congress categories

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