Baseball Saved Us

by Ken Mochizuki

Other authorsDom Lee (Illustrator)
Hardcover, 1993



Local notes

940.53 Moc




Lee & Low Books (1993), Edition: 1st ed, 32 pages, (March 2018), $15.95


A Japanese American boy learns to play baseball when he and his family are forced to live in an internment camp during World War II, and his ability to play helps him after the war is over.


Original language


Physical description

1 p.; 10.5 inches

Media reviews

School Library Journal
Grade 1-4–During World War II the author's parents were sent to an internment camp in Idaho. That family history led to this poignant story about a young Japanese-American boy in an internment camp and the baseball diamond that gave the internees a purpose in life and a way of passing the time.
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The young boy's triumph in a game played while in captivity helps him when he returns home and continues his baseball career. The baseball heading over the fence on the last page tugs at the heart of readers as it symbolizes freedom lost, and regained. Author Ken Mochizuki reads his award-winning book (Lee & Low, 1993). There is some soft background music, and a few gentle sound effects, but the power of the words need little embellishment. Young students will be made aware of the overt racism Japanese-Americans faced during this period of history. This treasure of a book is well-treated in this format.
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User reviews

LibraryThing member dchaves
"Build it and they will come" Field of Dreams meets the Bridge over the River Kwoi. Good child-like perspective. Boy does the soldier look menacing. Baseball saved us or basesball save the child.
LibraryThing member Charitas
Baseball Saved Us is a story about a young boy that is in the war camps during World War II for the Japanese in America. The story discussed the hard times they went through and the reasons why they were there. The story tells how people in the camp were having attitued problems so this child's
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father wanted to build a baseball field. The young boy plays baseball, and even though he isn't the best player he saved the game in the camp. Then he goes to public school. He has no friends but plays baseball. The story relates back to the camp time, showing how now is struggled but in the end he made it through on top.

This would be a great book for minorities who are strugling to relate and for children to relate to because of the sporting point of the story.

Classroom extension, this would make a great book during a social studies lesson. It could be included in a lesson over WWI or if we were talking about asian culture. The students could do research over sports in other cultures or over WWI and write a report over it.
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LibraryThing member Jparker03
In 1942, while the united States were at war with Japan, all people of Japanese descent were moved to internment camps until 1945. The Story “Baseball Saved Us’ is about a boy who isn’t very good at baseball and is always picked last to play. His father makes a baseball field at camp. The
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other fathers find ways to make balls, bats, and gloves. The boy practices a lot. He gets good and when he gets back to school, he isn’t picked last anymore.

I liked the book because you get to see what it was like living in one of the camps. The boy also has a lot of determination to hit the ball because the guard was watching him and it shows that if you want to do something you just have to set your mind to it. All you need is determination and practice.

You could play a game of baseball with your children or students. You could also make bats, gloves, and balls out of construction paper.
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LibraryThing member jessica_cassell18
Baseball Saved Us is told from the viewpoint of a young Japanese boy during the WWII time. He tells of how his family and he had to go from their home to a camp because the American government wasn't sure who could be trusted due to the attacks on Pearl Harbor. While in camp, his father builds a
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baseball and field and everyone plays. When they return home he joins the baseball team having improved drastically from being at camp.

My personal reaction to this book is shock. I did not realize that this occured during the war. However, I can relate in some way to the little boy about not being good at a sport and getting better as time goes by and with lots of practice. I was not a good basketball player until I had a great coach who worked with me and made me realize my potential and I became an awesome player who enjoyed playing the sport.

A classroom extension I would use with this book would be to ask the students to write about something that could "save" them if they were in a similar situation. Another I would use would be for the students to learn their ethnicity and share that with others.
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LibraryThing member LindseyBallard
This is a story about a young boy and his family that get sent to a camp durning WW II. The government did not trust them because they are Japanese. During this time, there was nothing to do so him and his dad decide to build a baseball field for recreation time. The young boy's triumph in a game
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played while in captivity helps him when he returns home and continues his baseball career.

I did more research into this book and found out that the author who wrote this book was writing about when his parents were sent to this internment camp. I thought this was very interesting and makes the book that much better because it comes from real-life experience. This is a great book to teach children about acceptance. American is full of many different religions and cultures and sometimes all it takes is a simple book to get the message across.

If there is a young child in your class who was just transfered, this would be a good book to read that day. Sometimes children don't warm up to others well, especially if they are of a different culture. The teacher could have the student's write a welcome letter to the new student. They could ask questions about where he came from, where he's been, or anything they can think of. This would of course need to be looked over by the teacher before dispersing. They could also write about a time when they did not feel accepted and how they over came it.
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LibraryThing member melissafourroux
This story is about an American Japanese boy who lived during World War II and his life was adversely affected by the attack on Pearl Harbor. Following the incident, all Japanese Americans were forced to relocate to an isolated location because of the belief that Japanese Americans could not be
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trusted. This story shows how this particular group of individuals found solace in the game of baseball. It was their opportunity to step away from their horrible situation and just be! The young boy in the book also faces his own issues with being the smallest boy on the team and the one that always got picked last. He shows courage and tenacity to never give up and even when his family returns back to his home he is once again isolated and alone. He decides to step up to the plate not only to play baseball but also to win his self-respect back.

I was completely unaware that any of these events had ever taken place in our history. I immediately felt compassion for all that these individuals and families had to endure because of a lack of ignorance by our government. How horrible to be punished and then taken away from your home and your life when you are completely innocent.

I think this book would be an excellent extension activity to use when you are discussing World War II. You could research the specific events to find more information that could be discussed further in class. This book can also give you the opportunity to discuss acceptance of others of all colors, shapes and sizes. This would be a perfect opening for your students to ask questions about how "Shorty" was treated with a lack of respect and to discuss why it was wrong.
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LibraryThing member ingahatch
This historical fiction story,”Baseball Saved Us” is about Japanese Americans being put into a confinement camp during WW2. It is about “shorty” a young boy who grew up during Pearl Harbor attacks. He had to endure the radical treatment and through it all found a love for baseball that
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helped him survive it all.

I felt this story was very insightful. It was unique perspective of how those incidents really affected Japanese American citizens during the Pearl Harbor incidents. I also think it is great that children are exposed to these types of stories because they are definitely not depicted in our history books.

I would have children look up on a globe where Japan and Hawaii are. Also have a discussion about baseball and the reasons of why different students like it.
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LibraryThing member ovistine
I would like a lot better had it been named something less over-the-top. However, OTT title aside, this is a book about the Japanese-American internment camps of WW2, a subject that most Americans these days know little-to-nothing about (unless you happen to be Japanese-American). The fact that the
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subject is covered in a children's book amazes me, but the author is the child of parents who were in Minidoka, and he has a personal interest in the story. I'm happy to say that the book is quite good without being as over-the-top as the title is, and does a good job of explaining what was happening through a kid's POV.
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LibraryThing member sfarley2410
“Baseball Saved Us” is about a little boy and his family who have to move to a concentration camp. This is during the war against US vs. Japan, or Pearl Harbor. The whole family is getting very frustrated, so the dad decides that the camp needs a baseball field. The whole camp helps out from
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digging the canals, making bleachers, and juts getting the field ready. They start practicing and everybody is there, and all the little kids make fun of the little boy saying her is to short and can’t play baseball. Finally, the war is over so he and his family get to move. The little boy starts going to a school, and all the kids make fun of him because he is Japanese. The boy gets involved in baseball and all the kids make fun of him because he is so short. In the end, all of his team is cheering him on and he hits a home run. The little boy is so happy and proud of himself.

The kids might be able to relate to this story, because kids get picked on by other classmates and then they feel left out. Feeling left out if not a good thing for little children,

In the classroom, the teacher could tell a little bit about concentration camp. Tell what it is for and what the people have to do. Also, if the kids are older they could maybe write about how they feel if someone were to make fun of them, and then be left alone and not have anyone to play with.
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LibraryThing member rebecca401
How to pass the time in a Camp from which you cannot leave? Even the adults don't have anything to do, until one day they decide to build a baseball field. Baseball unites and gives purpose to life, even within a society that hates and discriminates.
LibraryThing member MarthaSohl
This story takes place during World War II and is told from the perspective of a young boy, Shorty, who was sent with his family to live in a Internment camp because they were Japanese and the United States Government considered all Japenese a possible threat. Shorty's father was instrumental in
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forming baseball teams at the camp in an attempt to have something normal in their lives. The discrimination of the Japanese people did not stop simply because they were released from the camps after the war, Shorty knew he was different from the other children on his new baseball team and wanted to be accepted by them. The determined Shorty hit the ball over the fence and the other boys ran up to him and gave him big hugs finally allowing Shorty to feel accepted.

This story was engaging for me. I felt Shorty's pain and loneliness. The happy ending of the ballgame helped but it was so sad to think that Shorty's problems were not over because of the xenophobia of people.

This is an excellent example of the pain caused to another person by needless prejudice. This would also supply a good extension for teaching history. It shows that mistakes are made due to the fear factor and sometimes it is not until years later when the injustice of a decision can be seen.
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LibraryThing member AuntKrissy
Winner of the Washington State Governor's Writers Award, this book has also been translated into Spanish. The author was born, raised, and is currently living, in Seattle, WA. UW Grad. Parents were also born in the USA, grandparents moved here from Japan. Mochizuki has written a couple of other
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books for children as well. He is a journalist, writer, an actor, and a presenter. Mochizuki's parents were sent to the Minidoka internment camp in Idaho during WWII.
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LibraryThing member mchristman
This is a good example of historical fiction because it is an imagined story based on actual events. The author created a story in which baseball helps a boy and other Japanese Americans make it through the time they spent in internment camps during World War II.

Point of View: This is a good
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example of a story written in first person. The main character is telling the story which helps us see how he feels when other people ridicule him for being Japanese American and how he overcomes the pressure and succeeds at baseball.

Age Appropriateness: Intermediate
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LibraryThing member langerer
This is a story about an internment camp for Japanese Americans. It tells a story of a Japanese boy whose father gets the camp members to build a baseball field so they have something to do within the camp to pass the time and to keep from fighting. This is a story set back in the time of the Pearl
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Harbor bombing.

I love baseball. It was an easy read and yet enlightening!

This would be a good book to read for a history lesson on the effects of the Pearl Harbor bombing. It would also be good to read during lessons on prejudice or bias.
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LibraryThing member Jenny_Hayes
This story is set in 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 perspective of the boy “Shorty” (called this because of his size). Throughout the story he describes the
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camp’s desolate environments, and explains the motivation needed to keep going.

This is a very touching story. I enjoyed reading it but felt sorry because I have it much better than “Shorty” ever did. But it is a great story to read to help children understand the circumstances kids used to have to face, and around the world still do. This is a story that will make the children really think about how easy they have it.

In the classroom you could have a children make a chart of sports or just things they like to do and what they feel keeps them going. Also, talk about the things in life that keep us motivated and why? This is a story to really have the children thinking about how easy they have it.
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LibraryThing member sosandra
Baseball Saved Us is told from the perspective of a young Japanese-American boy who is in one of the internment camps after the bombing of Pearl Harbor. In the camp, there is nothing to do so his father decides to build/create a baseball field out of the nothingness in the camp. As a shorter and
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smaller boy, the narrator learns to channel his strength into baseball. When the Japanese-Americans are released from the internment camps, the narrator finds that baseball is the thing that wins his acceptance to his classmates and peers.
This book shows how the narrator finds hope in baseball, which he cultivated his passion for during his time in the internment camp. At the end of the book, baseball is what saves him from the brutality of being Japanese-American in post-WWII America. Baseball Saved Us illustrates the admiring spirit of a young Japanese-American boy as he lives through one of the most horrible times in his life. This book would work well with third grade and up (older students will enjoy the easy read as it highlights the cruelty of what the Japanese-American underwent).
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LibraryThing member ltipton
This is a story narrorated by a young boy who is sent to an internment camp while the United States was in war with Japan. While in the camp the Japanese-Americans build a baseball field and start baseball teams and this is how they spend their time while imprisoned in the camp. The young boy is
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strenghthened by the game of baseball. Upon his return home the young boy is finally receives the acceptance from his peers he has so longed for after hitting a homerun for his school team.

I loved this story and it hits home personally for me. As the mother of a boy who is very small and is always one of the smallest on his team has found baseball to be the sport in which he excels and is accepted by his peers. Needless to say I can not compare what my son has gone through with the character in this book but am encouraged by the message this book portrays.

One extension idea would be to put the students in groups and have them research internment camps and were they located and report their findings to the class. Another extension idea would be for students to discuss what types of activities or sports would they choose to do to help occupy their time if they were in a similar situation.
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LibraryThing member gena93
Baseball saved us was about a Japanese boy who lived in interment camps with his family during World War II. One day his father decided to make a baseball field to get rid of their frustrations. He wasn't that good at baseball and everyone teased and harassed him. He eventually got better and hit a
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home run when it counted the most.

This story relates to me because my son played his first baseball game two years ago. He too wasn't that good at first. People and other kids teased him because he would always strike out. He eventually got better and actually hit a double in one of his games. He cried because he was so excited. It was a great day.

In my classroom we could talk about World War II and how the families had to make it fun for their children regardless of what was going on. We can play a baseball game in the classroom kinda like around the world. Each child would take turns answering questions, two at a time. the one who gets it right will move on to the next person and try to make it all around the room without missing a question.
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LibraryThing member kholec1
“Baseball Saved Us” gives children perspective on how prejudice our country can be, even towards people who may be a different race but were born here. The book informs children that during World War II Americans put Japanese-Americans into labor camps, because they believed they were a threat
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to our country. However, all the people who were put in the labor camps were born in the United States and had lived there their entire lives. The book showed how the camps changed the people in there. The young boy watched as his parents and all the adults sat around doing nothing when they had working jobs before. The book also sent the message that even when times are tough you must stay strong and you can overcome your obstacles. When the boy finally got out of the labor camp, children at school still treated him as if he was not a citizen and called him names like “Jap.” The boy, although upset, did not let this get to him and used it as motivation. He hit a homerun in a baseball game when all the children believed he could not even hit the ball. As the ball sailed over the back fence it is as if he was going to sail over all the obstacles that were coming his way.
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LibraryThing member conuly
Not many kids books deal with the Japanese-American situation during WWII. By and large, it's a piece of history that just isn't dealt with.

This book takes a child's point of view, so the understanding of the situation is necessarily limited to what a child would understand. I would suggest that
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you read this book in conjunction with a more complete history lesson.
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LibraryThing member nmhale
A picture book of serious matter, treated through a narrow focus that is more light in character and therefore more approachable to children. The setting is an internment camp for Japanese Americans, set up in our own country during the second world war, and the characters are father and son who
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decide that their people need a diversion to distract them from anger and fear and boredom.

They build a baseball field, and soon the boy is playing ball all the time, improving under the eyes of the other prisoners and the tower guard. When the boy finally does leave camp, only to return to a world that has grown suspicious and hateful towards him, he relies on his skill in baseball to carry him through the challenging times.

The story approaches the serious matter of our internment of our own people and doesn't hide from the injustice of the act or the ambiguities, but it also focuses on the human dignity that is possible even in horrible conditions. This book makes me remember that we need to constantly be aware of the equal rights of all people, and to stand against such injustices as these that were perpetrated in our past. It also lauds the spirit of Japanese Americans who persevered through this era of intolerance, and highlights their dignity and resourcefulness.

Stories about bravery during tribulation are great reads for both children and the adults reading to them. They are inspirations, and serve as a counter to the corruption that is also presented within. Mochizuki's book is a great example, as it doesn't shy from the truth, and it doesn't exaggerate in the opposite direction, either - for instance, he doesn't portray all the Caucasian Americans as evil, but allows that some were good while others were responsible for hatred and bigotry. This picture book presents a clear picture of social injustice, and the humane response that can cure it.
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LibraryThing member JanaRose1
Imprisoned in an internment camp in America for those of Japanese descent, Shorty used baseball as a way to gain back a measure of dignity and self-respect. Despite the pain of leaving their entire life behind and forced to live in barracks, the people of the camp found a way to escape. They built
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a baseball field and formed their own baseball league. Although Shorty is not the greatest player, through his will and determination he is able to gain back a sense of his own worth.
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LibraryThing member CrystalRushton
Baseball Saved Us is the story of a Japanese-American boy, called Shorty, in a Japanese internment camp during the aftermath of the Pearl Harbor attacks in World War II. At first, life in the camp is boring and dull and Shorty describes the camp as sad and deserted. Seeing the need to cheer the
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camp up, Shorty’s father makes a baseball diamond so that the camp can play. People around the camp scrounge up equipment, uniforms, and create a league. Throughout the game, Shorty is bothered by an unfriendly guard who keeps them locked in the camp like prisoners. Shorty, never the best player, turns his feelings of anger towards his confinement into a home-run game-winning hit. Even once Shorty returns home, he still is subjected to racist actions as he continues to play baseball.
All in all, I would recommend this book for upper elementary students, because it contains subject matter that may be difficult for younger students to understand. This book is an excellent text that can be integrated with social studies units, especially on World War II and on issues of race and discrimination.
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LibraryThing member elpowers
Great book, can help many ages learn about racism, as well as overcoming extreme circumstances.
LibraryThing member JPercival
Summary: Baseball Saved Us is about the Japanese internment camps. Life in the camps was very difficult and a few in the camp saw that people were starting to fight among themselves. A few people got together and decided to put together a baseball game. This was something that brought some joy into
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the camp and helped them cop. One young boy even used it to help him "fit in" once he left the camp.

Personal Reaction: Even though this is a horrible part of our history it must be talked about. This is a good book to start those conversations with young people. Using baseball to help cope with the situation shows the resolve of the Japanese American citizens in the camps.

Classroom Extension: 1) After reading the book have the class write a paragraph telling what they think internment camps are, and why they are right or wrong. 2) This would be a good lead in to a lesson on Pearl Harbor and what lead the government to come to the decision of internment camps.
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