Monday, February 25, 2008
Baseball Saved Us
A. Title: Baseball Saved Us
B. Author: Ken Mochizuki
C. Illustrator: Dom Lee
D. Publisher: Lee & Low Books Inc.
E. Genre: Picture Book, Historical Fiction
F. Reading Level: Grades 3-5
G. Awards: 1993 Parent's Choice Award
H. Summary: During World War II, the American government sent Japanese-Americans to desert camps. The camps were surrounded by a barbed wire fence and soldiers with guns; the conditions were horrible with sandstorms, hot days, and cold nights. The people soon became restless because there was nothing to do, and the children soon began to change and become disrespectful. The father of the main character decided to build a baseball field to give the community something to do. At first just a few helped to build it, but eventually a lot of the people in the camp joined in. The main character, a young boy, tries hard to get better at baseball and succeeds. When the government finally let the Japanese-Americans go home, playing for the school baseball team is what helped him to become adjusted and accepted at school. The illustrations were done on paper with encaustic beeswax; then the illustrator scratched the images in the wax and painted them with oil paint for the color. Some of the pictures were inspired by photographs from an internment camp in 1943.
I. Response: I am so glad that I bought this book for my collection. Not only does it shed light on a negative, but important, part of our nation's history, it also shows a great point of view of racism. The point of view of an innocent child makes the story really sink in. I think another reason it struck me so much was because it was a hopeful story about a bad time in Japanese-Americans' lives. The author also took an event that could happen to anyone, being left out of playing a sport in PE class. On top of the racists comments, that we all know is wrong, there is feeling from within of not being chosen or accepted.
J. Teaching Ideas: This book is almost perfect for the using in the classroom. I found one lesson plan for Baseball Saved Us that used the book as a way to introduce historical fiction books. As the teacher reads, the children make a list of characters, places, events, and facts. Then discuss the elements of historical fiction with the class and create a venn diagram. The middle of the venn diagram has the list of things the class wrote down, the left side has historical facts, and the right side has fiction; the teacher uses this exercise to show what historical fiction is and how it is a mix of both. I also found a lesson plan on the discrimination of immigrants. The objectives are as follows, "1. Students will create a dictionary of reform terms. 2. Students will write profiles of several key reformers in American history. 3. Students will examine the impact individual people can have on society. 4. Students will design and implement related community service projects. 5. Students will gain an understanding of the historical context of the reformers and their objectives." The lesson plan also gives lists of specific topics, people, and ideas to use or give as options. The website also discusses what types of skills the exercise is addressing. This book would even just be great to read to the class and just have an open discussion about how the main character must have felt, how the treatment of him made them feel, would they ever treat someone this way, do they know and understand what World War II was, and the list could go on and on.