________________ CM . . . . Volume XI Number 1 . . . . September 3, 2004


Play Ball!

Carol Matas.
Toronto, ON: Key Porter Books, 2004.
126 pp., pbk., $14.95.
ISBN 1-55263-557-0.

Subject Headings:
Baseball stories.
Jews - Juvenile fiction.
Sex role - Juvenile fiction.

Grades 3-6 / Ages 8-11.

Review by Betsy Fraser.

**1/2 /4


"Next time you get a hit," he said, "I'll find you, wherever you are. After the game. Maybe in a day, maybe a week, maybe a month. And I'll make sure you never get another hit again."

My first reaction was pure terror and a chill raced down my spine. But immediately after that I had another thought. He'll never be able to find me because I'll be a girl. And I laughed out loud.

"You think that's funny?" he said, obviously startled.

"I do!" I said, and laughed again, "Very funny."

"Well," he sputtered, "You won't think it's so funny when we meet up."

"Oh no, I'm sure I won't. Now get out of my way, I have a base to steal."


It is the early 1900's, and Rosie's family has moved from New York to Chicago. She hasn't been very successful at making friends and doesn't enjoy her girl's school which is ruled over by horrible Hannah. The one thing she does enjoy is her job at her father's nickelodeon where she works disguised as a boy. Since she has the clothes, when her brother's baseball team, the Chavarims, loses its best player, they are able to convince their father to allow her to play in disguise since she plays as well as the boys. This game, between the Russian Jewish team and the Tigers, a team of German Jews, is tense to begin with, and it does not help to throw a girl into the mix, especially when Hannah shows up and becomes very interested in "Roy," the newest player on her brother's team. It is not until an outstanding play results in a tumble that removes her hat, revealing the braid underneath, that Hannah's true identity is revealed. Hannah's father is filming the game as well, putting his own interests in jeopardy.

     In this, the second story about Rosie, the story is well-paced and explains the baseball clearly but doesn't require readers to be fans of the game. Historical fiction fans will be drawn to the characters, the setting and lifestyles of Hannah and her family. Girls will be very interested in the limitations placed on their counterparts in the early twentieth century, leading to interesting discussion points. This book will be popular with readers looking for an accessible book featuring a strong female character. Play Ball! also leads neatly into the next book into the series.


Betsy Fraser is the Young Adult librarian with Calgary Public Library.

To comment on this title or this review, send mail to cm@umanitoba.ca.

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