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BASEBALL SAVED US by Ken Mochizuki


by Ken Mochizuki & illustrated by Dom Lee

Pub Date: March 15th, 1993
ISBN: 1-880000-01-6
Publisher: Lee & Low Books

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)