As a boy, Kenichi Zeni" Zenimura dreams of playing professional baseball, but everyone tells him he is too small. Yet he grows up to be a successful player, playing with Babe Ruth and Lou Gehrig! When the Japanese attack Pearl Harbor in 1941, Zeni and his family are sent to one of ten internment camps where more than 110,000 people of Japanese ancestry are imprisoned without trials. Zeni brings the game of baseball to the camp, along with a sense of hope.
This true story, set in a Japanese internment camp during World War II, introduces children to a little-discussed part of American history through Marissa Moss's rich text and Yuko Shimizu's beautiful illustrations. The book includes author and illustrator notes, archival photographs, and a bibliography.
Praise for Barbed Wire Baseball
"In language that captures the underlying sadness and loss, Moss emphasizes Zeni's fierce spirit as he removes every obstacle in order to play his beloved baseball and regain a sense of pride. Shimizu's Japanese calligraphy brush–and-ink illustrations colored in Photoshop depict the dreary landscape with the ever-present barbed wire, with that beautiful grassy baseball field the only beacon of hope."
"As this expressive picture book makes clear, Zenimura never allowed his small stature to diminish his dreams."
"Moss is a skilled author of historical narrative nonfiction for young readers; her tale is both well researched and well told. But it's the visually stunning, sensitive illustrations by the hugely talented Shimizu that make the book a standout."
—New York Times Book Review
"Text and illustrations mesh to create an admiring portrait of an exemplary individual who rose above his challenges and inspired others."
—School Library Journal
"In her picture book debut, artist Shimizu finely crafts pen-and-ink illustrations with a calligraphy brush to help portray a true story of resilience during WWII."
"Shimizu's Japanese brush and ink illustrations, digitally layered with dusty colors suggestive of the arid relocation camp, are a visual feast, from the patterned swirls of battleship steam and desert dust, to the series of depictions of Zenimura in motion, to the rhythmic composition of the female detainees stitching the potato-sack uniforms."
—Bulletin of the Center for Children's Books
"Yuko Shimizu's arresting illustrations, evoking the firm lines, dramatic curves and color wash of Japanese prints, add drama and authenticity to this memorable account."
—The Wall Street Journal
"This is a beautifully designed and inspirational sports story about the power of American dreams, even when such dreams are sometimes deferred."
California Reading Association's Eureka! Nonfiction Children's Book Awards - HONOR
Notable Children's Books from ALSC 2014