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.   

Don't forget to link up your nonfiction reviews:

Take Me Out to the Ball Game - Books on Baseball

Last week, I was hanging out at Vroman's and noticed that they had a display for children's books featuring baseball.  Either I like baseball and I am more attune to the number of books featuring America's favorite past time, or there are simply more children's books on baseball than any other sport.  Regardless, I decided I needed to share some of the new releases and some old favorites that you might want to check out.  If you are looking to increase your collection of baseball related titles, there is something here for everyone. 

Baseball Books released in 2013...

Becoming Babe Ruth by Matt Tavares (Candlewick, February 2013)

Pete the Cat: Play Ball! by James Dean (HarperCollins, February 2013)

Who's On First? by Bud Abbott, Lou Costello; Illustrated by John Martz (Quirk Books, February 2013)

Take Me Out to the Yakyu by Aaron Meshon (Simon & Schuster, February 2013)

Miracle Mud: Lena Blackburne and the Secret Mud that Changed Baseball by David A. Kelly; Illustrated by Oliver Dominguez (Millbrook Press, April 1, 2013)

Something to Prove: The Great Satchel Paige vs. Rookie Joe Dimaggio by Robert Skead; Illustrated by Floyd Cooper (Lerner/Carolrhoda Books, April 1, 2013)

Perfect Game by Fred Bowen (Peachtree Publishers, March 2013)

Some favorites from previous years...

We are the Ship: The Story of Negro League Baseball by Kadir Nelson (Jump at the Sun, 2008)

There Goes Ted Williams: The Greatest Hitter Who Ever Lived by Matt Tavares (Candlewick, 2012)

Brothers at Bat: The True Story of an Amazing All-Brother Baseball Team by Audrey Vernick; Illustrated by Steve Salerno (Clarion Books, 2012)

Silent Star: The Story of Deaf Major Leaguer William Hoy by Bill Wise (Lee & Low, 2012)

She Love Baseball: The Effa Manley Story by Audrey Vernick; Illustrated by Don Tate (Collins, 2012)

Poem Runs: Baseball Poems by Douglas Florian (Harcourt Children's Books, 2012)

Players in Pigtails by Shana Corey; Illustrated by Rebecca Gibbon (Scholastic, 2003)

ABC's of Baseball by Peter Golenbock; Illustrated by Dan Andreasen (Dial, 2012)

King of the Mound: My Summer with Satchel Paige by Wes Tooke (Simon & Schuster, 2012)

Nonfiction Picture Book Wednesday (12)

As part of the Non-Fiction Picture Book Challenge 2012 (Twitter: #nfpb2012), my goal is to read and review as many of the new non-fiction picture books that are released this year.  Wednesdays will be my primary day to post the reviews.

This week's Nonfiction Picture Books are centered around baseball.  I didn't intend to do theme related books two weeks in a row but it seems to work at the moment.  

Brothers at Bat: The True Story of an Amazing All-Brother Baseball Team
Author: Audrey Vernick
Illustrator: Steven Salerno
Publisher: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt (April 3, 2012)
Audience: 7 to 10 years old

When I read this book, I kept reading parts of it aloud to a friend.  It was like one of those Believe It or Not Fact books.  Can you imagine a family with 12 boys and 4 girls?  Can you imagine having one of the 12 brothers on the school team for over 22 years?  I was fascinated with this family's story and Vernick's telling of their tale.  I wasn't aware that there were brother teams who played on local leagues and in the case of the Acerra family, semi-pro ball.  The Acerras in particular were committed to baseball and family.  I loved the way that when one of the brothers was injured and lost an eye the other brothers practiced with him until he could return to the game.  And the illustration of 3 generations of Acerras playing baseball is priceless.  A fun read for baseball fans or those who just like a little piece of history.  

Lipman Pike: America's First Home Run King
Author: Richard Michelson
Illustrator: Zachary Pullen
Publisher: Sleeping Bear Press (February 14, 2011)
Audience: 7 to 10 years old

I somehow missed this book last year but glad to have discovered it this year.  Did you realize that before baseball was called "baseball" that it was referred to as "base".  Yes, I didn't realize this.  I also didn't realize that there was a time in the history of baseball where it was technically illegal to pay players to play baseball.  Of course, people still found a way around this but it was interesting.  It was also interesting to learn about Lipman Pike and his skill both as a hitter and runner.  I loved how they compared how fast he was to a race horse and the subsequent 100 yard dash against a race horse.  The book also refers to early prejudices against Jewish immigrants and how some of Pike's team members were concerned if he could be loyal to them being both Jewish and from Brooklyn.  Another interesting picture book for baseball fans or those who just like learning about history. 

Don't forget to add a link to your own nonfiction picture book reviews from this past week. Thanks for participating in the challenge.