Grades 3 - 5
Grade level Equivalent: 4.1
Lexile Measure®: 550L
Guided Reading: O
Type of Book: Chapter Book
- Historical Fiction
- American History
- Japanese and Japanese American
- World War II
- Tolerance and Acceptance
About This Book
The year is 1942, World War II is raging and a Japanese/American boy and his family are sent to an internment camp after the Japanese attack Pearl Harbor. The story is told from the point of view of the boy, dubbed "Shorty" because of his size, who describes the camp's desolate environs, explaining what motivated father and son to pull the camp together to build a baseball diamond, improvise uniforms, and equipment, and finally, form a league. "People needed something to do," his father said.
During a game, Shorty catches a glimpse of one of the ever-present guards and finds himself channeling his anger towards the man and his humiliation, from being a both prisoner and a mediocre player, into anger, giving him the strength to hit a game-winning home run.
After the war and his return home, he continues to play baseball, while being subjected to racial taunts. Just as he did as a boy, Shorty is able to refocus his anger and produce positive results on the field. Indeed, the subject of baseball plays a secondary role to the one of the blatant racism depicted in this at times bleak tale. Dom Lee's paintings — scratchboard overlaid with oils — have the gritty feel of sand and dust, effectively reflecting the tone of the story.
An understated look at a shameful period in our country's history, it was named an American Bookseller "Pick of the Lists," as well as the recipient of a Parent's Choice Award.