BASEBALL SAVED US

Drawing on his Japanese-American parents' experiences, a new author uses his narrator's struggle to become a better, and more accepted, ballplayer to portray a WW II internment camp. Quietly, ``Shorty'' describes his family's sudden removal to the camp in 1942, the grim surroundings, the restiveness his dad hopes to counter by building a baseball diamond. Materials are improvised (uniforms are made from mattress ticking), but the game soon thrives. Still, Shorty is usually an ``easy out'' until anger at the perpetually watching guard inspires him to hit a homer— whereupon he sees the guard give him thumbs-up and a grin. But the real focus here is the camp and the prejudice that caused it. Back home after the war, Shorty finds friendly teammates but still hears racist taunts when he plays—and still uses the anger he feels to strengthen his resolve and do his best. Using scratchboard overlaid with oils, Lee (who grew up in Korea) provides splendidly evocative art whose somber tones are enriched with luminous color; he's a keen observer of baseball and the camp milieu. Fine debuts for author, illustrator, and publisher. (Picture book. 6-10)

Pub Date: March 15, 1993

ISBN: 1-880000-01-6

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Lee & Low Books

Review Posted Online: May 19, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 1993

HORRIBLE HARRY SAYS GOODBYE

From the Horrible Harry series , Vol. 37

A fitting farewell, still funny, acute, and positive in its view of human nature even in its 37th episode.

A long-running series reaches its closing chapters.

Having, as Kline notes in her warm valedictory acknowledgements, taken 30 years to get through second and third grade, Harry Spooger is overdue to move on—but not just into fourth grade, it turns out, as his family is moving to another town as soon as the school year ends. The news leaves his best friend, narrator “Dougo,” devastated…particularly as Harry doesn’t seem all that fussed about it. With series fans in mind, the author takes Harry through a sort of last-day-of-school farewell tour. From his desk he pulls a burned hot dog and other items that featured in past episodes, says goodbye to Song Lee and other classmates, and even (for the first time ever) leads Doug and readers into his house and memento-strewn room for further reminiscing. Of course, Harry isn’t as blasé about the move as he pretends, and eyes aren’t exactly dry when he departs. But hardly is he out of sight before Doug is meeting Mohammad, a new neighbor from Syria who (along with further diversifying a cast that began as mostly white but has become increasingly multiethnic over the years) will also be starting fourth grade at summer’s end, and planning a written account of his “horrible” buddy’s exploits. Finished illustrations not seen.

A fitting farewell, still funny, acute, and positive in its view of human nature even in its 37th episode. (Fiction. 7-9)

Pub Date: Nov. 27, 2018

ISBN: 978-0-451-47963-1

Page Count: 80

Publisher: Viking

Review Posted Online: Sept. 16, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 1, 2018

CLEMENTINE

Maybe it was because third-grader Clementine was a little bit angry with her best friend Margaret that things got out of hand with the scissors and the permanent markers and the hair. Or maybe she really was just trying to help. In short chapters, set in the city apartment building her father manages or the school where she has some tough days, Clementine relates the events of the trying week she discovered she was the difficult child in her family and thought she was about to be given away. Middle-grade readers will sympathize with Clementine’s conflicted feelings about her friend and her family, and laugh out loud at her impulsive antics, narrated in a fresh first-person voice and illustrated with plenty of humor. Just like her family they will cheer when she comes up with a way to end The Great Pigeon War as well as the temporary rift with her friend. Energetic and imaginative, Clementine is gifted with understanding and patient parents. Give this to readers of Cleary and Blume and cross your fingers for more. (Fiction. 7-10)

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 2006

ISBN: 0-7868-3882-5

Page Count: 144

Publisher: Hyperion

Review Posted Online: May 19, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2006

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