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Barbed Wire Baseball

4.17  ·  Rating details ·  730 ratings  ·  122 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 with ...more
Hardcover, 48 pages
Published April 9th 2013 by Harry N. Abrams (first published April 1st 2013)
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4.17  · 
Rating details
 ·  730 ratings  ·  122 reviews

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David Schaafsma
A new baseball season looms in the ol' U. S. of A. and I'll be watching, and listening. Growing up, I bent my ear almost every day to my transistor radio to listen to Ernie Harwell announce Detroit Tigers games. Sometimes I listened, or watched, with my Dad, who also numerous times a year drove me from my home in Grand Rapids across the state to Tiger Stadium. Bleacher seats 5 bucks. My Little League glove was wedded to my left hand; that is, when I was not filling out the score card for the gam ...more
Feb 11, 2016 rated it really liked it
Before reading Michael Cunningham's A Wild Swan: And Other Tales, I noted the bio of its artist, Yuko Shimizu, on the outer flap: it mentions this book. Anyone who knows me well knows that I am interested in books about baseball, even if they are children's books, maybe even especially if they are children's books.

When I got to the story's third two-page illustration (page 7), with a grim Zeni in the forefront while roiling maroon war-clouds swirl in the background, I was nudged by how familiar
Dov Zeller
Marissa Moss once again scripts a great kids picture book about a relatively unknown historical player and not-adequately-honored cultural hero. She and Yuko Shimizu team up on this one and hit it almost out of the ball-park.

I'll start with what I like about this book.The art is gorgeous. The story is captivating. Kenichi Zenimura aka Zeni's early determination to play baseball is, seemingly, indomitable and Moss seems to really relish the fabulist nature of the tale. Things that could be huge
Alex (not a dude) Baugh
May 20, 2013 rated it really liked it
Shelves: world-war-2
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
Mary Ann
Kenichi Zenimura fell in love with baseball as a boy, moving to Fresno in 1920 to pursue his dreams of playing with the pros. But after Pearl Harbor, Zeni and his family were sent to an internment camp, imprisoned without trial. Moss tells the story of how Zeni organized baseball teams in the camps, bringing his fierce sense of hope and justice to the hardships Japanese Americans faced during WW2.
Richie Partington
Jul 04, 2013 rated it it was amazing
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
Kristin Nelson
Jun 09, 2017 rated it really liked it
Intriguing story about the father of Japanese baseball and his life in an internment camp. Fantastic illustrations.
Apr 21, 2015 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
Jun 28, 2013 rated it it was amazing
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.

I support independent bookstores. You can use this link to find
Apr 05, 2014 rated it it was amazing
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 rated it it was amazing
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.
Sep 19, 2015 rated it really liked it
This is a great picture book to use when introducing the U.S. internment of Japanese Americans.
Ben Truong
May 11, 2019 rated it really liked it
Barbed Wire Baseball is a children's picture book written by Marissa Moss and illustrated by Yuko Shimizu. It chronicles the life of Kenichi "Zeni" Zenimura, who dreams about being a professional baseball player, despite his short stature and being of Japanese decent during the Second World War.

May, at least in my part of the world is Asian Heritage Month, which I plan to read one children's book, particularly a biography, which pertains to the subject everyday this month. Therefore, I thought t
Jan 29, 2018 rated it liked it
Recommends it for: 4th-6th graders
Recommended to Cathy by: California Young Reader nominee 2018
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 without trials. Zeni brings the game of baseball to the camp, along with a sense of hope.
This true story, set in a Japanese inter
Rachel Lee
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Jun 28, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: Grade 5
39 pgs. Great story about a Japanese baseball player in California during WWII. His family was rounded up and sent to an internment camp. The struggles he endured and pride he felt for his favorite sport were inspiring. I think this book would be a great one to use with a history unit on WWII. The illustrations are very different from most art styles. I think the art captures the emotion of the situation well with colors, texture and perspective. There is additional information at the end that w ...more
Lynn  Davidson
Jun 24, 2019 rated it it was amazing
This is the true story of Kenichi Zenimura - known as Zeni - who was born in Japan but moved to Hawaii with his parents when he was 8 years old. There, the first time he saw a baseball game Zuri knew he wanted to be a baseball player. Years later, even though he was a small man he made the team. Unfortunately, after Japan attacked Pearl Harbor in Hawaii, Zuri and 120,000 other Japanese Americans were forced into internement camps. There Zuri made a way to continue playing ball. Great story and i ...more
The Reading Countess
A Japanese internment camp becomes a beacon of hope when a baseball field, players in crisp uniforms, and a stand full of cheering fans mimic normalcy. In a world spinning out of control then, as now, we look for the helpers.

Hopeful, yet still punching you in the gut for what should have never been.
Mar 15, 2018 rated it really liked it
Shelves: sports
I loved this book. I think that our hero is an inspiration to all those that were told they were to small to achieve what they wanted which is a common thing most students will have experienced. This is also a great story to show making the best of your situation and lastly a History lesson to discuss 1940's America.
Jo Oehrlein
Jun 07, 2017 rated it really liked it
Shelves: picture-books, wwii
The story of a Japanese-American man who played baseball. After he and his family were sent to an internment camp, he rallied his family and the camp together to build a baseball field and setup a league. He gave the people a sense of purpose and normalcy in a time when nothing else was normal.
Aug 14, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: children
Field of Dreams? This is the real deal. A prisoner in an American internment camp built a baseball diamond and kept hope alive for himself, his family and the other prisoners. Excellent illustrations as well.
Jan 24, 2019 rated it really liked it
A story about how a Japanese-American man and his family made the best out of the interment camp they were staying in. He created his own baseball field in the camp and they spent their time playing there every day.
Gwen - Chew & Digest Books -
This is just one of the shameful parts of American history and what better way to approach it from the baseball angle for kids that already love baseball. It's a perfect example of never giving up, no matter the circumstances and is full of interesting side facts as well.

What a fascinating story!
Miche Eriaku
Dec 07, 2018 rated it really liked it
It is an interesting Narrative Nonfiction book about A famous baseball player called Zeni.
Dec 14, 2018 rated it liked it
Recounts the story of a Japanese American man who so loved baseball that he built a field and organized games in an internment camp in Arizona.
Dec 13, 2013 rated it liked it
Shelves: children
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
Tori Crumrine
Illustrations look like they are mixed media, perhaps a combination of ink and digital coloring and effects.

This is a sporty about a popular Japanese baseball player who is placed in an internment camp during WWII. He continues to have a love for baseball, and organizes the building of a field in the camp.

This felt more like a fictional story in that there were less facts and more story telling. Additionally it provided how the Japanese internment camps basically improisioned innocent Americans
Emily Benner
Plot summary: This book is about a Japanese boy named Zeni and his love for the game of baseball. When Zeni was a little boy he wanted to grow up and play baseball but both of his parents as well as some of his peers told him that he could never play baseball because he was too small and frail. But as he grew up, he practiced and grew better and stronger and proved them all wrong when he became one of the best baseball players for the New York Yankees. But when Japan attacked Pearl Harbor, all o ...more
Anna Kozlowska
Oct 11, 2015 rated it it was amazing
“Barbed Wire Baseball” is one of my multicultural children’s books. It is written by Marissa Moss and illustrated by Yuko Shimizu. I would not recommend this book to primary students, as they would not appreciate the complexity of the text, specifically the history of the Pearl Harbor, its implications, and the hardships of the internment camps. However, I see how the intermediate to middle school level students could draw their attention to many themes, like “hope”, “the resilience of the human ...more
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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