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Step Up to the Plate, Maria Singh

by Uma Krishnaswami

Published by Tu Books, 2017
288 pages
ISBN: 978-1600602610

Ages 8-12

Maria loves softball and is thrilled to discover a woman teacher at her small-town school in California is starting a team for girls. The only problem: she’s not sure her Sikh father will let her join. When he reluctantly agrees, her next goal is to convince him to let her wear shorts rather than a dress when she plays. As the girls begin to practice, they are sometimes jeered by boys in town, and sometimes at odds with one another, with coveted positions and racial tensions both coming into play. Maria and several other girls have fathers from India who came to the United States via Mexico because of U.S. anti-Indian immigrant laws. Many of the men married women who are Mexican American, like Maria’s mother. Many others in town, including the man from whom Maria’s father rents the land he farms and whose daughter is her rival on the team, are white. The same anti-immigrant laws also prevent Maria’s father from purchasing the land he’s been farming for years when the owner decides to sell. A story set during World War II deftly balances substantial information with an engaging character and story line. Less lighthearted than the cover suggests but still hopeful, this novel showcases family, culture, community and even politics, from the keen interest of Maria’s father to the end of British rule in India to the impact of the war on families in town. ©2017 Cooperative Children’s Book Center


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