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Barbed Wire Baseball

4.21 of 5 stars 4.21  ·  rating details  ·  312 ratings  ·  82 reviews
As a boy, Kenichi “Zeni” Zenimura dreams of playing professional baseball, but everyone tells him he is too small. Yet he grows up to be a successful player, playing with Babe Ruth and Lou Gehrig! When the Japanese attack Pearl Harbor in 1941, Zeni and his family are sent to one of ten internment camps where more than 110,000 people of Japanese ancestry are imprisoned wit ...more
Hardcover, 48 pages
Published April 9th 2013 by Harry N. Abrams (first published April 1st 2013)
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Apr 21, 2015 Lori added it
Shelves: multicultural
Barbed Wire Baseball

What does this remind you of in the real world? Students should be given a chance to relate this story, based on the real life story of Zenichi Zenimutra to current happenings and past history. Connections could be found with war stories of WWII the students have heard, prison stories, stories of people surviving and thriving during difficult circumstances, and baseball stories.

2)Perspectives and Values:
a)Japanese Americans during WWII-Zeni’s family was placed
Alex Baugh
From the time he was a young boy and saw his first baseball game, Kenochi "Zeni" Zenimura wanted to play baseball - he wanted that more than anything. And he was well on his way towards living his dream when he was old enough, managing local teams and playing with the Fresno Nisei League and the Fresno Twilight League, going to exhibition games in Japan, even playing with star players of the New York Yankees. It seemed Zeni was on top of the world, at least until December 7, 1941 when Japan atta ...more
Marissa Moss does such a wonderful job of presenting little known people who made a big impact on history in some way. She's done it again in sharing the story of Kenichi "Zeni" Zenimura, the "father" of Japanese American baseball. This picture book biography would pair nicely with Kathryn Fitzmaurice's historical fiction title, A Diamond in the Desert. The illustrations, afterword, and bibliography add to the strength of this book.

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Susan Brown
Connection: Based on a true story, Barbed Wire Baseball tells the story of Zeni. A Japanese-American man sent to an internment camp with his family during World War II. While there he continues his passion for baseball by building a field for the whole camp community to enjoy.

I love the idea that a personal interest can be transformed into something that inspires a whole community. That element of the book reminded me of the Alexander McCall Smith novel La’s Orchestra Saves the World. Although n
This is a beautiful book about an important time in American history. As much as I love my country, the United States has done plenty of awful things over the years. This book takes a look at one of those things, the internment of Japanese Americans during World War II. But I really liked the positive way that Zeni chose to face this serious injustice. Zeni, a young Japanese American fell in love with baseball the first time he saw it played. And despite his small size and his parents discourage ...more
It's a wonderful thing to discover so many kinds of heroes in the recent numerous picture book biographies. We've learned about sports heroes, adventurers, visual and musical artists, women who defied the usual stereotypes, and stories about writers, much in these past few years. This time, Marissa Moss has researched a baseball player who didn't let his enthusiasm for the game stop him from playing baseball, even in an internment camp for the Japanese during World War II. Though quite short, K ...more
Jeannene Egan
Barbed Wire Baseball is a great story that teachers the reader to work hard for what they want and love. Zeni the main character in the book is someone to look up to. He made life in the camp the best he could by following his dreams.

Text to World – The theme of this story I am comparing to the Boston Marathon Bombing. The citizens of Boston and Zeni in the camp both have courage and hope. They didn’t let a situation define how they felt about something they love. Zeni supports and loves the spo
Jennafer Harris
This book focuses on the Japanese internment camps that happened here in the United States, but it also can lead into many other thoughts and discussions. This book could be used in a history lesson as well as bring up the idea of making the best out of situations, doing whatever you set your mind to, or even just discussing different hobbies. A text-to-self situation I could bring up with the classroom by using this book would be to ask them how they would feel if they were put into these camps ...more
Zeni finds himself behind barbed wire in the Gila River War Relocation Center with his family and other Japanese-Americans during World War II. He decides to build a baseball field in the Arizona desert. The ingenuity this took to "do it right" is inspiring. The book, a true story about a dark point in American history, is actually fun and hopeful. The illustrations capture the feeling of each point in the story. You don't have to love baseball to be a fan of this book.
May 31, 2013 Kate rated it 5 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: 3rd-5th grade
The title page with a game ticket, the baseball image on the back echoing the Japanese flag, and the front cover with Japanese writing in the style of Japanese baseball cards from mid-twentieth century complete the package of this well-crafted, inspirational story. The artwork, done with Japanese calligraphy brush and ink, is a perfect match to this story of a man who continued his love of an all-American game while America imprisoned him.
Text to Self:
I didn't really know how to relate this story to myself until the very end, even though I did love baseball at a very young age. What really caught my attention was the fact that Zeni pitched right handed and batted left handed. That is also how I batt as well as pitch, which I thought was pretty cool. Even though my connection is pretty surface level, it still made me love this book just that much more.

Text to World:
Even though the world was kind of in turmoil at the time of the
4.1 stars

Kenichi Zenimura (Zeni) was born in Japan and moved to Hawaii when he was young. In Hawaii, he saw his first baseball game. He fell in love with baseball and was determined to make a career of baseball. His family discouraged him, but he could not be dissuaded. He eventually moved to California and managed baseball teams. He even played an exhibition game with Babe Ruth and Lou Gehrig.

When Pearl Harbor was bombed, Zeni and his wife and 2 teenage sons were sent to live in an internment c
Elizabeth Taylor
Barbed Wire Baseball is a true story about a Japanese-American baseball player during the 1940s. Zeni was a pretty successful player (especially for his size) until the Japanese attacked Pearl Harbon in 1941. Then his world was totally changed. Zeni and his family were forced to move to a Japanese Interment camp in the middle of the desert. This didn't stop Zeni from play the game he loved. He shared the game with his peers, built a field, and played at the camp. This book is a good way to intro ...more
Rosa Cline
What a wonderful way of teaching children (and adults alike) about how Japanese Americans were treated during the war! I read this book and learnt things I never knew, was never taught in school. How one man made a 'prison camp' of sorts more like home by changing it into a baseball field and making a baseball games. Helping bring some normal 'home' to the camp. The author and the illustrator did their research and tried to get the storyline and the illustrations as accurate as they could based ...more
I had never heard of Kenichi Zenimura, and after reading this wonderful picture book, I have a new hero. Zenimura, known as Zeni, was the father of Japanese American Baseball. He played alongside Lou Gehrig and Babe Ruth at an exhibition game in 1927. During WWII, he, along with thousands of other Japanese, was confined in an internment camp. Zeni’s indomitable spirit and hope shines forth as he builds a baseball field in the middle of the Gila River, AZ camp. Talk about a true Field of Dreams! ...more
Oak Lawn Public Library - Youth Services
Grade Level: 1 to 5

Lexile Level: 800

Pages: 40

Summary: Kenichi “Zeni” Zenimura was born in Japan in 1900. His family moved to Hawaii in 1908 where he saw his first baseball game and fell in love. Zeni began playing, teaching, and coaching baseball from that day on. In 1927 the New York Yankees came to Fresno California, where Zeni lived, and he was one of four Japanese American players chosen to play with the Yankee greats Babe Ruth and Lou Gehrig. In 1941 when the war began between the United St
Maggie Burgess
I thought the story was okay, and the illustrations were good. The focus of this story is definitely on baseball, and what it takes to make a good, meaningful game (how to make a solid field, the bleachers, the fans...) I prefer the book "Baseball Saved Us", as it gives more information about the camps, and what was happening historically, what the people went through. Again, this one focuses on baseball. If I could only have one in my classroom, I'd stick with "Baseball Saved Us", but I'd be ha ...more
Emma Hoyer
Literature Requirement: **2014 IRA Teachers' Choice Award Winner**

This book is a brilliant combination of a lesson and history. The lesson that this book preaches is to follow your dreams, as well as to try and make the most out of an abnormal situation. That is exactly what Kenichi Zenimura did when he was forced into an internment camp after the bombing of Pearl Harbor. It was completely unfair and incredibly prejudice, but in the midst of that, baseball was his focus. His love for the sport b
Michele Knott
Fantastic account of one man's experience of baseball in the World War II era. Author tells the story of Zeni, his experience with baseball growing up and meeting Babe Ruth and Lou Gehrig. Then, Pearl Harbor happens and Zeni's baseball life is stopped when he ends up in an internment camp. However, he does not stop his love of the game even when living behind barbed wire. This is his story of what he does to play baseball behind the wire. The author includes great notes and information in the ba ...more
Barbed Wire Baseball, written by Marissa Moss and illustrated by Yuko Shimizu, is nominated for the 2014-15 South Carolina Children's Book Award.

Barbed Wire Baseball is a welcome addition public, school, and classroom libraries, and it highlights a shameful, often overlooked period in American history--the internment of Japanese Americans during World War II.

"Zeni" Zenimura loved baseball. He played professionally in the U.S., and he went a long way to making the sport popular in his native Japa
Full review at:

World War II is the most infamous war and it is taught to all students at some point in their career. They learn about Pearl Harbor and the Atomic Bomb and the Holocause and Hitler, but way too often what happened here in the US is not discussed. All of the Japanese Americans living on the West Coast of the US (62% were US citizens) were interned because our fear overwhelmed us so much that it was the only solution that seemed plausible. I
Sandy Brehl
The first time Zeni saw a baseball game he was eight years old. His family had moved from Japan to Hawaii and he was instantly determined to play. His parents called him a mouse and said he was too small. Discouraging messages followed him as he remained so small, but he achieved impressive success and even fame in professional baseball. Through practice, determination, talent, and commitment he built a life as a player, coach, and manager in the decades that followed.
After the Japanese attacke
Richie Partington
Richie's Picks: BARBED WIRE BASEBALL by Marissa Moss and Yuko Shimizu, ill., Abrams, April 2013, 48p., ISBN: 978-1-4197-0521-2

Dateline: July 4, 2013
"Despite their widespread national pride, Americans evince a much more negative response when asked if the signers of the Declaration of Independence would be pleased or disappointed by the way the United States has turned out. Seventy-one percent of Americans say the signers would be disappointed, while 27% say they would be pleased."
-- from Gallup
I spent the better part of last night drinkin' my beer and crying over this book. Zeni was only 5ft, 100 pounds, but he was determined to have the American dream. And it came true because he ended up playing for the Yankees next to Babe Ruth until Pearl Harbor happened. Loyalty didn't matter; anyone of Japanese descent were shipped off to internment camps as possible spies and traitors. Zeni and his family were sent to Gila River Relocation Camp, Arizona. To overcome his malaise, Zeni decided to ...more
This inspiring story of bravery and perseverance highlights the determination of one man to find a way to endure being sent to an internment camp during WWII. As in the case for 100,000 American citizens of Japanese descent, Kenichi (Zeni) Zenimura and his family are imprisoned because the United States government feared that they would spy for Japan. Zeni loved baseball, and chose baseball as a career. This book describes how he made the best of an impossible situation, and built a baseball fie ...more
The mass internment of Japanese Americans (and others, including those of German, Italian, and Hungarian descent) during World War II is a low point in the history of the USA. One of the thousands sent to the internment camps was Kenichi Zenimura, a brilliant baseball player and manager whose career had included playing in and organizing barnstorming tours with the likes of Babe Ruth, Lou Gehrig, and Biz Mackey.

Barbed Wire Baseball spends a few pages on Zenimura's early life, but most of the boo
A hard to find biography retelling the struggle of a Zeni, an American detained in an internment camp during WWII, this book tells the story of Zeni's quest to return to professional baseball. Illustrations from a variety of angles let the reader feel like they are part of the story, Light also plays a role in the illustrations. Barbed wire cannot restrict the freedom he feels when he plays. Finding ways to bring joy into bad situations is one of many lessons children will earn from this book.
really nice picture book about Kenichi Zenimura, a Japanese-American baseball player in the 1920s and 30's (he met Babe Ruth and Lou Gehrig, in a famous photo where Ruth has his arms resting on the very short Zeni's shoulders!), who with his family was interned with thousands of other Japanese Americans during World War II. He decided to build a baseball field in his camp, from scratch, doing it up right complete with bleachers, and bringing a favorite pastime to the internees. It was also a sym ...more
Ms Threlkeld
Wonderfully-written and inspiring, this story is a great way to talk with students about internment camps and segregation in general. The illustrations match the tone perfectly, elevating the reading experience. Also good for talking to kids about growth mindset since Zeni perservered and wouldn't let anything stand in the way of his baseball dreams.
This was really quite excellent. I enjoyed reading it out loud to A and L...and it makes me wonder, why do I enjoy reading picture books out loud, but deplore reading chapter books out loud? I cannot explain it, but I'd like to thank my local children's librarian, Mrs. B for assigning this one for the parent child book club this month. Awesome book.
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Who is Marissa Moss anyway?

I’ve been making children’s books for a looooong time. I sent my first picture book to publishers when I was nine, but it wasn’t very good and they didn’t publish it. I didn’t try again until I was a grown-up and then it took five years of sending out stories, getting them rejected, revising them and sending them back over and over until I got my first book. Now I’ve pub
More about Marissa Moss...
Amelia's Notebook (Amelia's Notebooks, #1) Amelia Writes Again (Amelia's Notebooks, #2) Amelia Hits The Road (Amelia's Notebooks, #3) Amelia's 6th-Grade Notebook (Amelia's Notebooks, #15) Amelia's Boredom Survival Guide (Amelia's Notebooks, #5)

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