CCBC’s Best Books for Kids & Teens (Spring 2016) — Commended
Is pretending to be someone else the only way Michiko can fit in?
Michiko Minigawa’s life is nothing but a bad game of baseball. The Canadian government swung the bat once, knocking her family away from a Vancouver home base to an old farmhouse in the Kootenay Mountains. But when they move into town, the government swings the bat again, announcing that all Japanese must now move east of the Rockies or else go to Japan.
Now in Ontario, Michiko once again has to adjust to a whole new kind of life. She is the only Japanese student in her school, and making friends is harder than it was before. When Michiko surprises an older student with her baseball skills and he encourages her to try out for the local team, she gives it a shot. But everyone thinks this new baseball star is a boy. Michiko has to make a decision: quit playing ball (and being harassed), or pitch like she’s never pitched before.
Jennifer Maruno is a long-time educator. Her debut novel, When the Cherry Blossoms Fell, was shortlisted for the Hackmatack Award and the Pacific Northwest Library Association Young Readers Choice Award. She is also the author of Warbird, Cherry Blossom Winter, Kid Soldier, and Totem. She lives in Burlington, Ontario.
A historically accurate story about being an outsider, family values and the ability of sports to bring people together.
Maruno tells an almost uniquely Canadian story as we see how different cultural communities interact, as well as the challenges many first- and second-generation Canadians encounter, issues that are still relevant today.
Michiko is endearing, and readers who persevere will rejoice with her victories big and small.
A fast-paced, intriguing read. Highly recommended.
Michiko is a wonderful character trying to find her place in an often racist Canada, obeying her strict but loving parents, supported by cultural traditions and fiercely passionate about baseball.