|Barbed wire baseball|
Author: Moss, Marissa
A true story about baseball set in the Japanese internment camps of WWII.
Download a Teacher's Guide
|Accelerated Reader Information:|
Interest Level: LG
Reading Level: 4.50
Points: .5 Quiz: 156562
|Reading Counts Information:|
Interest Level: 3-5
Reading Level: 5.30
Points: 3.0 Quiz: 59986
Common Core Standards
Grade 1 → Reading → RI Informational Text → 1.RI Key Ideas & Details
Grade 1 → Reading → RI Informational Text → 1.RI Craft & Structure
Grade 1 → Reading → RI Informational Text → 1.RI Range of Reading & Level of Text Complexity
Grade 2 → Reading → RI Informational Text → 2.RI Key Ideas & Details
Grade 2 → Reading → RI Informational Text → 2.RI Craft & Structure
Grade 2 → Reading → RI Informational Text → 2.RI Range of Reading & Level of Text Complexity
Grade 3 → Reading → RI Informational Text → 3.RI Key Ideas & Details
Grade 3 → Reading → RI Informational Text → 3.RI Craft & Structure
Grade 3 → Reading → RI Informational Text → 3.RI Range of Reading & Level of Text Complexity
Grade 4 → Reading → RI Informational Text → 4.RI Key Ideas & Details
Grade 4 → Reading → RI Informational Text → 4.RI Craft & Structure
Kirkus Reviews (03/01/13)
School Library Journal (04/01/13)
The Bulletin of the Center for Children's Books (04/13)
The Hornbook (00/07/13)
Full Text Reviews:
Booklist - 03/15/2013 This story begins in the early 1900s, when tiny Kenichi “Zeni” Zenimura attends a baseball game with his parents and falls in love with the sport. Fast-forward to his adult years, when five-foot Zeni plays, coaches, and manages teams in California’s Japanese American leagues. Ordered to report to a Japanese American internment camp in the Arizona desert in 1941, he works with patience, determination, and ingenuity to build a baseball field there, complete with grass, sprinklers, and bleachers. In the closing scene, his home-run ball soars over the barbed wire fence. The informative back matter includes a historical afterword, an author’s note, an artist’s note, and a source bibliography. One of the many effective illustrations shows Zeni seated on his bunk, gazing at a photo (based on an actual picture) of himself standing between Lou Gehrig and Babe Ruth. As this expressive picture book makes clear, Zenimura never allowed his small stature to diminish his dreams. A fine historical counterpart to Ken Mochizuki’s fictional Baseball Saved Us (1993). - Copyright 2013 Booklist.
Bulletin for the Center... - 04/01/2013 This picture-book biography focuses on a pivotal episode in the life of Kenichi Zenimura, the player, coach, and manager who became known as the father of Japanese-American baseball. After a successful career with the Fresno Nisei League, playing exhibition games in the U.S. and Japan, Zenimura found himself holed up in the Gila River internment camp during World War II. There he built a ball field, complete with a leveled, grassed-in diamond and bleachers, to raise the spirits and self-esteem of his fellow detainees (“He knew he was still behind a barbed wire fence, but he felt completely free, as airy and light as the ball he had sent flying”). Though Moss admits to taking some creative liberty with the barbed wire imagery, she thoughtfully explains her use: “Although it was later removed at the Gila camp, the barbed wire was illustrated in this book to stress that this was a prison to the people there.” Shimizu’s Japanese brush and ink illustrations, digitally layered with dusty colors suggestive of the arid relocation camp, are a visual feast, from the patterned swirls of battleship steam and desert dust, to the series of depictions of Zenimura in motion, to the rhythmic composition of the female detainees stitching the potato-sack uniforms. Author and artist notes, sources for text and illustrations, and an index are included. Children who have been introduced to the internment camps via Mochizuki‘s Baseball Saved Us (BCCB 5/93) will want to learn about Zenimura and his achievements. EB - Copyright 2013 The Board of Trustees of the University of Illinois.
School Library Journal - 04/01/2013 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, CA - Copyright 2013 Publishers Weekly, Library Journal and/or School Library Journal used with permission.