Barbed Wire Baseball

Marissa Moss, Author, Yuko Shimizu, Illustrator
Marissa Moss, illus. by Yuko Shimizu. Abrams, $18.95 (48p) ISBN 978-1-4197-0521-2
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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. Born in Japan, Kenichi Zenimura, nicknamed Zeni, grows up in Hawaii and California loving and playing baseball. When WWII sees him, his wife, and teenage sons sent to an Arizona internment camp, Zeni "felt as if he were shrinking into a tiny hard ball." The bulk of Moss's (Nurse, Soldier, Spy) descriptive narrative centers on Zeni's efforts to build a baseball diamond at the camp. Thick brush lines create heavy textures in the digitally colored pictures, giving some the appearance of woodcut prints. All of the scenes occupy full spreads, echoing the expansive nature of Zeni's plan: unwilling to settle for a dusty dirt field, he irrigates it and grows grass; benches are made from wood scavenged under dark of night, and uniforms sewn from potato sacks. This triumphant story of how the father of Japanese-American baseball brightened the dark days of war concludes with an afterword, b&w photos, and notes from both author and illustrator. Ages 6–10. Author's agent: Alyssa Eisner Henkin, Trident Media Group. (Apr.)
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