During World War II, Michiko experiences racial prejudice and the challenges of being a pitcher on a boys’ team in this third novel from the Cherry Blossom series.
When Michiko and her Japanese-Canadian family move to a flower farm in Ontario, where her father will be working the fields, she leaves behind Aunt Sadie and Uncle Kaz. Like any budding player, Michiko faithfully wears her baseball cap with the letter “A” that once belonged to Uncle Kaz, who played for the Asahi team. She longs for running shoes so she can circle the bases, but her mother, Eiko, disapproves. At her new school, Michiko uses her English name, “Millie,” makes some friends, and deals with a bully, Carolyn. And a first crush comes calling. When Michiko makes the pitching rotation for the town’s baseball team, she’s beyond thrilled. But on top of being perceived as the enemy, there’s another strike against her: being a girl. Wartime attitudes and challenges, combined with coming-of-age moments and family values, blend well in this novel. One telling moment comes when Michiko writes letters to soldiers to support the war effort. One soldier writes back asking for her picture while using a racial slur against Michiko’s ethnicity. Despite the shock, Michiko continues to write, believing servicemen need letters, even from strangers.
A gentle story about seeking a place while taking your best shot. (author’s note, glossary) (Historical fiction. 8-12)