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Play Ball!    by Carol Matas order for
Play Ball!
by Carol Matas
Order:  USA  Can
Key Porter, 2004 (2004)
* *   Reviewed by Hilary Williamson

Rose first appeared in Rosie in New York City: Gotcha!, in which she participated in a shirtwaist makers' strike. Since that episode, the family has moved to Chicago, where her father runs a nickelodeon business. It's 1910, and Rosie plays baseball, and learns more about life in the process.

Rosie dreads school, where they are only five other girls in her class, and they all take the lead of 'Horrible Hannah' in rejecting her company. She works after school at the nickelodeon, as an usher (dressed as a boy). Watching Westerns, Rosie yearns to be a cowgirl. Then the best player on her brothers' baseball team breaks a leg, and Abe and Joe ask Rosie to fill in, in her usher costume as Roy.

The Tigers and Chavarim compete within the Jewish community (those of German and of Russian extraction). Rosie's dad films the game with a new camera (he's obviously into technology). There's a coach who imparts philosophical advice, and a bully on the opposing team who threatens Rosie and her younger brother. She has to decide whether to do what's right or save her skin. On top of which, 'Horrible Hannah' shows us and develops a crush on Roy.

It's a thrilling game of baseball, and Rosie finds it fun to be a boy ... till she's discovered and has to face the music. I enjoyed Play Ball! for its combination of historical setting, issues of bullying and intolerance, and a coach who teaches life lessons along with the ball game. And Rosie and family are heading west next, to California, for another exciting adventure.

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