A FEW OTHER EVENTS FOR
- Happy birthday Jill Krementz (A Very Young Dancer) and Amy Tan ( The Moon Lady).
- Itâ€™s the birth date of Louis Slobodkin (1903â€“1975) The Hundred Dresses, Mildred Lee (1908â€“2003) The Skating Rink, and Carson McCullers (1917â€“1967) The Heart Is a Lonely Hunter.
- Renaissance astronomer Nicolaus Copernicus (1473â€“1543) was born on this day. Read Nicolaus Copernicus: The Earth is a Planet by Dennis B. Fradin, illustrated by Cynthia Von Buhler.
- In 1976, President Ford signs Proclamation 4417, rescinding Executive Order 9066. Read The Bracelet by Yoshiko Uchida, illustrated by Joanna Yardley.
- Itâ€™s Chocolate Mint Day. Read The Ice Cream Con by Jimmy Docherty.
Executive order 9066: On February 19, 1942, President Franklin Roosevelt sent 110,000 Japanese Americans, two-thirds of them U.S. Citizens, to concentration camps in remote desert areas. Not allowed to return to their homes until January 2, 1945, these families lost an estimated $400 million worth in propertyâ€”not to mention their own freedom and sense of well-being.
Many childrenâ€™s and young adult writers over the years have chosen to write about the internment of Japanese Americans, including Jeanne Wakatsuki Houston in her touching autobiography Farewell to Manzanar. In 1993, writer Ken Mochizuki and illustrator Dom Lee combined their talents in Baseball Saved Us, a book that makes this incident understandable for children ages six through ten.
In a brief, but passionate opening, Ken Mochizuki sets the stage for this picture book; none â€śof these immigrants from Japanâ€”or their children, who were American citizensâ€”were ever proven to be dangerous to America during World War II. In 1988, the U.S. government admitted that what it did was wrong.â€ť
Then readers meet a young Japanese boy, standing with his father and looking out over the endless desert. In this desolate place, the father decides to build a baseball diamond. In flashbacks the author presents how the residents were taken to the camps and how family members broke down and relationships were strained: the boy’s mother cries; his older brother becomes disrespectful of their father. Those forced into the camp then take action by creating a baseball diamondâ€”sewing uniforms, getting supplies from friends back home, building bleachers, and clearing the land. All the while, they are watched by a guard in the tower.
Our unnamed hero, small for his size, becomes a baseball player to contend withâ€”in part because of his anger against the guard in the tower. When heâ€™s finally at home again and people call him â€śJap,â€ť he hits a ball â€śagainst the blue sky and the puffy white cloudsâ€¦. over the fence.â€ť For this powerful text Dom Lee created art inspired by the Ansel Adams photographs of Manzanar. Applying beeswax to paper, Lee scratched out the images and then added oil paint, providing a strong outline for his illustrationsâ€”some of them small vignettes and others panoramas that look like old sepia photographs.
Baseball Saved Us truly relates to children what happened after Executive order 9066 was issued because the story comes from the perspective of a small boy. Many can identify with being the weakest member of a team.Â The storyÂ naturally leads to a discussion of contemporary issues. Are there people in our country who we are treating in ways that we will regret decades from now? A powerful book, an important book, it has changed the way many children view history.
Here’s a page from Baseball Saved Us:
Originally posted February 19, 2011. Updated for .