Baseball Saved Us

Baseball Saved Us

4.3 8
by Ken Mochizuki, Dom Lee

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A Japanese boy discovers hope and self-respect at an internment camp during World War II.See more details below

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A Japanese boy discovers hope and self-respect at an internment camp during World War II.

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
PW praised the ``stylish prose'' and ``stirring illustrations'' in this tale of a Japanese American boy's confinement in a WWII internment camp. Ages 4-up. (Mar.)
School Library Journal
Gr 2-4-- After briefly describing the way his family was removed from their home and sent to an internment camp for Japanese Americans during World War II, the narrator, ``Shorty,'' tells how baseball was used as a diversion from the dire situation in which the camp's inhabitants found themselves. After improvising a baseball diamond, uniforms, and equipment, they played games. In one of these contests, the usually weak-hitting Shorty catches a glimpse of one of the ever-present guards and channels his anger toward the man into his swing, resulting in a winning home run. After the war and his return home, he continues to play ball while at the same time being subjected to racial taunts, again refocusing his anger to produce positive results on the diamond. The sport plays a secondary role to the blatant racism depicted in this somber book. The paintings, scratchboard overlaid with oils, effectively reflect the tone of the story. Pair this powerful title with Hamanaka's The Journey (Orchard, 1990). --Tom S. Hurlburt, La Crosse Public Library, WI
Hazel Rochman
The traditional sports story of the outsider who gains social acceptance when he hits a home run gets a new dimension in this picture book about a Japanese American kid interned in a desert concentration camp during World War II. In a spare, first-person narrative, "Shorty" tells how he and his family are suddenly moved from their home and set down behind barbed wire in a barracks in the desert. His father organizes the building of a baseball field, and, in sight of the armed watchtower guard, Shorty learns to play. After the war, when they return home, things are still bad: at school he has to eat lunch alone, and he still hears "Jap" insults--until he joins the team and whacks the ball right over the fence. Fences and watchtowers are in the background of many of Lee's moving illustrations, some of which were inspired by Ansel Adams' 1943 photographs of Manzanar. In shades of brown, Lee's images evoke the bleak desert isolation, and also the boy's loneliness in the school lunchroom after the war; in contrast is the focus on his close relationship with his father and the warmth of the team. The baseball action will grab kids--and so will the personal experience of bigotry.

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Product Details

Lee & Low Books, Inc.
Publication date:
Sales rank:
Product dimensions:
8.25(w) x 10.25(h) x 0.25(d)
Age Range:
5 - 8 Years

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