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

 
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"Despite their widespread national pride, Americans evince a much more negative response when asked if the signers of the Declaration of Independence would be pleased or disappointed by the way the United States has turned out. Seventy-one percent of Americans say the signers would be disappointed, while 27% say they would be pleased." -- from Gallup.com "Got a beat-up glove, a homemade bat, a brand-new pair of shoes You know I think it's time to give this game a ride. Just to hit the ball and touch 'em all -- a moment in the sun; (pop) It's gone and you can tell that one goodbye!" -- John Fogerty, "Centerfield" "Turner went out to the street, looked at the green shutters of Mrs. Hurd's house, and walked back to the parsonage. The sea breeze, wearing its overcoat, followed him all the way until he closed the door on it. Then it tipped up into the sky and spread out, looking for a maple it could scorch or a beech it could blanch. It found the maple and went about its business, so that if Turner had looked out his front door, he might have seen the maple just past First Congregational shiver some and then coldly begin to burn into reds. "But he didn't look out. He went up to his room and listened to the clicking of the typewriter from his father's study, and he thought about sunlight shutters and strawberry doors and Mrs. Hurd and baseballs hit higher than the dome of the Massachusetts State House and Lizzie Bright, and he su ddenly knew that he needed to find a way back to Malaga Island." -- from another book that incorporates baseball and historical American ignorance, LIZZIE BRIGHT AND THE BUCKMINSTER BOY by Gary D. Schmidt "First he would need a playing field. There was plenty of empty space, but it was dotted with sagebrush and clotted with rocks." Sometimes, I feel like a broken record. (Some might wonder, given the diminishing amount of new music on vinyl, whether today's kids have an understanding of that saying. But, actually, thanks to the popularity of glitch hop, plenty of them do.) Picture books for older readers are so where it is at. Here's an exceptionally-engaging, well-researched, eye-catching, American history lesson, an excellent piece of nonfiction with a lexile level of 800 (perfect, by that measure, for typical fourth and fifth grade students), that will have young readers doing some real thinking and asking questions about the wisdom and manner in which America has behaved in the past. I was a damned good student, and I loved American history. That I never, as a child, heard of the internment of Japanese-Americans during WWII was not a result of my randomly being home with the flu on a day this topic was discussed at school. No, this was a topic that was not part of the curriculum, nor mentioned in the textbooks employed in my schools during the sixties and early seventies when I was growing up on Long Island. And I would begin my argument that the Founding Fathers would be quite proud of the way America has turned out -- however belatedly -- by citing the increasing openness over recent generations of America to look at and discuss how badly the white men in charge during the first couple of centuries behaved toward those who were female, Native American, black, Asian, non-Christian or, heaven forbid, gay. The changes that have been wrought in my lifetime, both in moving toward liberty and equality for all, and in our increasingly open discussion of how badly the country repeatedly screwed up in its treatment of so many people, makes me pleased to be part of the American experiment and certain that Tom, Ben, and John (who were signers), as well as George and James and Abigail (who were not signers) would all be blown away in a good way by what they found today. I love BARBED WIRE BASEBALL. You have an unlikely hero, a guy barely five feet tall, born in Japan, who loves baseball, gets to meet and play exhibition games with the Babe and the Iron Horse (Ruth and Gehrig), and eventually ends up -- like 110,000 other Japanese-Americans -- in on of those internment camps in the desert. But Kenichi "Zeni" Zenimura became a leader of those ill-treated Americans by creating a baseball field and organizing a baseball league in the Gila River detention facility in Arizona where he and his wife and sons were being held. He employs ingenuity and determination to create an amazing baseball field -- one which Turner Buckminster would be excited about -- and then uses the game to create community in this detention camp. You walk away from this book -- as with so many great picture books for older readers being published today -- going, "Whoa! What a great story! Why hadn't I heard of this guy/topic/issue before?"

48 pages     978-1419705212      Ages 6-9 Recommended by: Richie Partington, MLIS, Librarian, California USA See more of his recommendations: Richie's Picks _http://richiespicks.com_ (http://richiespicks.com/)

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