Barbed Wire Baseball: How One Man Brought Hope to the Japanese Internment Camps of WWII

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9781419720581: Barbed Wire Baseball: How One Man Brought Hope to the Japanese Internment Camps of WWII
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A true story set in a Japanese-American internment camp in World War II. As a young boy, Kenichi Zenimura (Zeni) wanted to be a baseball player, even though everyone told him he was too small. He grew up to become a successful athlete, playing with Babe Ruth and Lou Gehrig. But when the Japanese attacked Pearl Harbor in 1941, Zeni and his family were sent to one of several internment camps established in the U.S. for people of Japanese ancestry. Zeni brought the game of baseball to the camp, along with a sense of hope, and became known as the “Father of Japanese-American Baseball.”

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About the Author:

Marissa Moss has written and illustrated many books for children, including the popular Amelia’s Notebook series, as well as Nurse, Soldier, Spy and A Soldier’s Secret. She lives in Berkeley, California. marissamoss.com.

Yuko Shimizu is an illustrator and comics artist best known for the cover of the graphic-novel adaptation of Neil Gaiman’s The Sandman: The Dream Hunters. She lives in New York City. yukoart.com.

From School Library Journal:

Gr 3-5-Focusing on her subject's strength of character and love of baseball, Moss introduces readers to Kenichi Zenimura (1900-'68). At barely five feet tall, Zeni was hardly a natural athlete; nonetheless, he developed great prowess as a player and coach. Before World War II, he played exhibition games alongside Babe Ruth and Lou Gehrig, and toured Japan, where he was born. His family moved to Hawaii when he was a child and later to Fresno, California. When war broke out, Zenimura, his wife, and teenage sons were sent to the Gila River internment camp in Arizona. In the barren desert environment, Zeni determined to build a baseball field and rallied others to his cause. Shimizu's artwork, created with Japanese calligraphy brush and ink on paper and Adobe Photoshop, depicts Zeni hoeing and pulling weeds in the hot sun. He made a field with real grass; a fence of castor beans; and, in an ironic twist, bleachers with wood scrounged from the barbed-wire fence posts surrounding the camp. In an afterword, Moss notes that Zenimura won posthumous induction into Japan's Shrine of the Eternals, the equivalent of baseball's Hall of Fame in Cooperstown. Text and illustrations mesh to create an admiring portrait of an exemplary individual who rose above his challenges and inspired others. Pair this picture book with Ken Mochizuki's Baseball Saved Us (Lee & Low, 1995) for an excellent read-aloud, or use it to introduce Kathryn Fitzmaurice's chapter book A Diamond in the Desert (Viking, 2012). Together these books offer insightful portrayals of the Japanese American internment experience.-Marilyn Taniguchi, Beverly Hills Public Library, CAα(c) Copyright 2011. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

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