Stealing Home

Kids Can. Oct. 2021. 112p. Tr $17.99. ISBN 9781525303340.
Gr 4-7–Sandy Saito, who lives in Vancouver, Canada, with his family, doesn’t have the strongest relationship with his father, James, a physician; James’s focus on his work means he doesn’t always have time for Sandy. But they do love to bond by watching the Japanese Canadian baseball team, the Asahi, play every summer, until the unthinkable happens: The U.S. naval base Pearl Harbor is attacked in 1941. This event triggers the U.S.’s entry into World War II, and Sandy, James, and other coastal Japanese-descended citizens in the United States and Canada quickly face discrimination by former friends and neighbors before being rounded up and sent to camps. Although their entire world is upturned, Sandy and others at the camps latch onto the game of baseball and the spirit of the Asahi as they do their best to adapt and survive. Though baseball sets the stage for the story and returns intermittently in moments of joy or escape, it is largely a vehicle for exploring Canadian World War II imprisonment camps. Hardships are depicted, but the story’s brisk pacing keeps readers from dwelling on them for long. Oatmeal-beige coloring dominates the artwork, accentuated by swaths of darker brown shades for contrast. Namisato relies on tidy panels and linework, with creative use of space and detailed backgrounds of natural and city settings. The illustrator strategically employs high-angled scenes when characters, portrayed diminutively, endure moments of uncertainty or despair. An afterword and further resources are included in the back matter.
VERDICT A strong companion read to George Takei’s They Called Us Enemy from the Canadian perspective, though aimed at a slightly younger audience.

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