Nonfiction Pictue Book Wednesday - Barbed Wire Baseball

Author: Marissa Moss
Illustrator: Yuko Shimizu
Publisher: Abrams (April 9, 2013)
Source: Personal Copy - Purchased
Audience: Ages 8-11
Keywords: Nonfiction, World War II, Japanese American Internment, Baseball

Description from GoodReads:
As a boy, Kenichi "Zeni” Zenimura dreams of playing professional baseball, but everyone tells him he is too small. Yet he grows up to be a successful player, playing with Babe Ruth and Lou Gehrig! When the Japanese attack Pearl Harbor in 1941, Zeni and his family are sent to one of ten internment camps where more than 110,000 people of Japanese ancestry are imprisoned without trials. Zeni brings the game of baseball to the camp, along with a sense of hope.

This true story, set in a Japanese internment camp during World War II, introduces children to a little-discussed part of American history through Marissa Moss’s rich text and Yuko Shimizu’s beautiful illustrations. The book includes author and illustrator notes, archival photographs, and a bibliography.

My thoughts on the book:
Earlier in the year, I was searching for books to use in several elementary schools to celebrate the Fred Korematsu Day.  Korematsu became know for standing up for the rights of Japanese American citizens who were unfairly held in Internment Camps in the United States during World War II.  As a result, when I heard about this book and that it also focused on Japanese American citizens who were interned, I was definitely looking forward to reading it.

Author, Marissa Moss tells the story of Kenichi "Zeni” Zenimura, who despite his small stature dreams of playing baseball.  His is a story of perseverance, and a story of what a community can do despite the situation they find themselves in.  Though Moss has chosen to focus her story solidly on Zeni's work at creating a viable playing field for baseball and pulling in all of those in the Internment Camp to make it a reality, there are references to what life was like at the camp for those who were held there.  Moss provides readers with a story of hope and what hard work can do for an individual or a community.

Along with Moss' ability to make the story of Zeni and those in the camp come to life, Yuko Shimizu's illustrations provide the just right feel and look for the text.  This is one book where you can read the story without the illustrations and it would be good.  You can look at the pictures and get a sense of the story without reading the words.  But when you put the two together, it becomes something special.  This is how I felt about the work of Moss and Shimizu.

At the end, readers will discover some information about Kenichi "Zeni" Zenimura, as well as, additionally resources.  I also enjoyed reading the author's note and artist's note at the ends.  This is one book to definitely add to multiple lists from baseball to history to civil rights.  I encourage you to go out and pick up a copy to read and to add to your school or classroom library.   

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