While we were heading south to the Four Corners area in the US, we stopped in Bishop, California. That night, after a fabulous mexican dinner, we pulled out the maps and guide books to plan the next day's drive. That was when we discovered Manzanar, home of the largest War Relocation Camp in the US during WWII. At it's peak, it held more than 10,000 forcibly relocated Japanese Americans behind barbed wire. It operated from1942-1945, and when it was closed, the inmates, who had lost businesses, homes, and other worldly possessions, were given a bus ticket and $25. It's a shameful time in US history, and one the we Canadians share. Today, a National Historic Site stands in place of a prison. It is well worth a visit, especially for the oral histories which have been and continue to be collected.
As is often the case, some very moving stories have come out of that time and place. One that I brought home with me is Baseball Saved Us by Ken Mochizuki, illustrated by Dom Lee. Published in 1993, by Lee & Low Books, it is a powerful story of how both children and adults built a baseball park in the desert, of how the American game helped to ease some of trials of the internment camp and of how baseball helped to break down the scars and barriers of post-war discrimination. The illustrations are powerful and evoke the dust and desolation I experienced when visiting Manzanar.
I highly recommend a virtual visit to Manzanar, and I highly recommend this story. For a north-north-of-the-border story for older readers, Joy Kogowa's Obasan is equally powerful.