Book Review: Baseball Saved Us

Rating: ★★★★★

In this moving tribute to human courage and dignity (written by the child of Japanese internees), a young Japanese boy describes his time  in the American internment camps during WWII.  Recognizing that enforced idleness is detrimental to their humanity, the inmates build a baseball field and organize teams to pass the time of their imprisonment.  They choose an American game, rejecting their label as non-Americans, and the boy grows in his skill by playing all through the camp.  It is through this skill that he young boy faces the hatred and prejudice of his home community when his family is finally released.

In a climactic closing scene, the young boy stands up to bat amid the racist jeers of the opposing team, and sees in his mind the accusing guard, standing on the watchtower, watching Japanese-American families play baseball below him.  In response to this memory, his courage rises, and instead of wilting in defeat he rallies to meet the challenge.  We see him finally being celebrated by his teammates in jubilant celebration of his winning hit.

The illustrations are breathtaking, and the text describes the painful reality of this dark moment in American history in a clear, understated way, without bitterness.  An unusual and outstanding book.

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Publication Information: Mochizuki, Ken. Baseball Saved Us. Lee, Dom (Illustrator). Lee & Low Books. 1993. ISBN: 1880000199.
Categories: 5 Stars, Age 04-08, Read-Aloud Handbook
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Posted on May 11, 2010

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