A Diamond in the Desert

A Diamond in the Desert

4.8 4
by Kathryn Fitzmaurice
     
 

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Twelve-year-old Tetsu eats, sleeps and breathes baseball. It’s all he ever thinks about. But after the bombing of Pearl Harbor, Tetsu and his family are forced from their home into an internment camp in the Arizona desert with other Japanese Americans, and baseball becomes the last thing on his mind. The camp isn’t technically a prison, but it sure feels… See more details below

Overview

Twelve-year-old Tetsu eats, sleeps and breathes baseball. It’s all he ever thinks about. But after the bombing of Pearl Harbor, Tetsu and his family are forced from their home into an internment camp in the Arizona desert with other Japanese Americans, and baseball becomes the last thing on his mind. The camp isn’t technically a prison, but it sure feels like one when there’s nothing to do and no place to go. So when a man starts up a boys’ baseball team, Tetsu is only too eager to play again. But with his sister suddenly falling ill, and his father taken away for questioning, Tetsu is forced to choose between his family and his love of the game.

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
After the bombing of Pearl Harbor, 13-year-old Tetsu Kishi, his mother, and his younger sister, Kimi, are imprisoned along with other Japanese Americans in the Gila River Relocation Center in Rivers, Ariz., an internment camp. Tetsu’s father, meanwhile, has been sent away for questioning. Based on actual events, Fitzmaurice’s (The Year the Swallows Came Early) second novel spans three years, divided into seasons. The brief vignettes that compose each section detail the harsh climate and conditions: the latrine has no walls; there is initially no school; the food makes Tetsu ill; and scorpions, rattlesnakes, and dust devils are abundant. When Tetsu befriends some boys who share his love of baseball, they start a team and build a ball field, rekindling Tetsu’s hope. But after Kimi falls ill, Tetsu is once again compelled to fill his father’s shoes. Tetsu provides intimate first-person narration throughout, as Fitzmaurice captures the dismal circumstances and somber mood of the camp, but also the much-needed hope that baseball provided for a few of those who were forced to live there. Ages 10–up. Agent: Andrea Brown Literary Agency. (Feb.)
From the Publisher
Praise for A Diamond in the Desert by Kathryn Fitzmaurice:

"Moving the story forward with fluid language and vivid imagery, Fitzmaurice hits home with this important piece of historical fiction." —School Library Journal, starred review

"A solid, affecting choice for multicultural and WWII studies, with resources for student research appended." —Booklist

"This book provides a striking glimpse at internment camp life and would fit well with the study of World War II or human rights." —Library Media Connection

Children's Literature - Sue Poduska
Based on a true story, this novel is well-researched and well-thought out. Thirteen-year-old Tetsu and his family are among the thousands of Japanese Americans shuffled off to relocation camps following the bombing of Pearl Harbor. Tetsu's father is held in a different facility for questioning, adding to the disruption of their lives. Meanwhile, his mother does her best to keep things normal. Tetsu plays baseball, hangs out with other teenagers, and looks after his little sister. He also befriends a boy who does not speak. Between the dust storms and valley fever, life in the desert is hard. The author gives a realistic view of the conditions in the camp. She also makes a good effort at showing the many ways the relocation affected people. My main criticism is that the other internees are too nice. It seems hard to believe that no one ever utters a cross word or tries to trip up Tetsu. While people in that situation might band together and help each other, certainly there are some that will not cooperate. Also, the extremely short chapters are distracting and sometimes confusing. Often, a chapter is only eight lines long. In spite of these shortcomings, this entertaining story does give kids a lot to think about. Reviewer: Sue Poduska
School Library Journal
Gr 5–7—Based on actual events and narrated by 12-year-old Tetsu, this story paints an effective picture of the harsh reality of what life was like for thousands of Japanese Americans who were moved to relocation centers after the bombing of Pearl Harbor. The chapters are delineated by place and time, grounding readers in Tetsu's journey and are broken down into short sections, some only a paragraph or two in length, affording a manageable way in which to digest the information. From the opening pages, in which readers learn that Tetsu's eight-year-old sister, Kimi, refuses to use the open-stall bathrooms at the relocation center unless a pillowcase is over her head, blocking out sights and sounds, to Tetsu's adjustment as man of the house after his father's arrest, readers are immersed in the dusty, barren world of The Gila River Relocation Center, Rivers, AZ. Hope appears with new neighbors Kyo, Ben, and their father, all of whom share Tetsu's passion for baseball, and they are soon engaged in a project to build a diamond in the desert. A team is assembled, and the author interweaves the spirit and familiarity the game brings with the grim reality of the life of the interned, culminating in Kimi's disappearance and recovery and the Gila River baseball team's win of the Arizona State Championship. Moving the story forward with fluid language and vivid imagery, Fitzmaurice hits home with this important piece of historical fiction.—Mary Beth Rassulo, Ridgefield Library, CT
Kirkus Reviews
In episodic bursts, a Nisei lad describes two and a half years of making do in a World War II–era relocation camp. Swept off his family's West Coast farm in the wake of Pearl Harbor and resettled along with thousands of other Japanese Americans in Arizona, 12-year-old Tetsu quietly waits with his mother and his beloved little sister, Kimi, for his father, who has been interned in another camp. At Gila River, he makes friends and enthusiastically pitches in to clear and construct a baseball field. When he accidentally allows Kimi to run off into the desert and she comes down with a severe case of Valley Fever, he drops off the team and even discards his treasured Mel Ott glove. Incorporating information and specific incidents drawn from interviews with former camp residents, Fitzmaurice has Tetsu describe his experiences and feelings in restrained vignettes threaded with poetic language--"Kimi looked at me with those eyes that always found the good part of things." The outlook does brighten at last after his father appears as the war winds down, and Tetsu picks up bat and glove again in time to compete against other camps' teams. A simply drawn picture of a shameful chapter in this country's race relations, sharing a theme with Ken Mochizuki's classic, angry Baseball Saved Us (1993) but less an indictment than a portrait of patience in adversity. (afterword, source list) (Historical fiction. 10-12)

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Product Details

ISBN-13:
9781101560211
Publisher:
Penguin Young Readers Group
Publication date:
02/16/2012
Sold by:
Penguin Group
Format:
NOOK Book
Pages:
272
Sales rank:
432,070
Lexile:
810L (what's this?)
File size:
1 MB
Age Range:
10 Years

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