Wat Kept Playing Book Review

Wednesday, March 6, 2024

As the child of Japanese immigrants, Wataru "Wat" Misaka often felt like he didn't fully belong in either Japanese or American culture. He was sometimes excluded, treated differently, and bullied, even though he was born in the United States. As he grew up, however, Wat discovered he had a very special talent for playing basketball. Even at just five foot seven, he was unstoppable.

After leading his high school team to a state championship, Wat played for the Utah Utes and helped the team win the 1944 NCAA championship. Wat kept playing even as Japanese Americans from the West Coast were sent to incarceration camps for the duration of World War II. Then, after two years serving in the United States Army, Wat returned to basketball, leading the University of Utah to Madison Square Garden and winning another national championship. The cheering crowd recognized Wat the way he wanted to be seen—as a person who was both Japanese and American and an amazing basketball player. Talent scouts from the New York Knicks were so impressed, they drafted Wat to their team. Wat's undeniable talent changed history as he became the first person of color to play in the NBA.

Emily Inouye Huey writes historical fiction for children and teens. She holds an MFA in Creative Writing from Lesley University and is a former teacher.

During World War II, Emily’s family was evacuated from their homes and farms in California and Washington State. Her grandparents met and married in Wyoming’s Heart Mountain Internment Camp. Her father was born in the camp hospital. When the war ended, the family was sent to Utah, where they started over and where Emily still lives, now with her husband, Robert, and their four children.

Besides books, Emily’s passions include education, the arts, the outdoors, and her family. Her latest updates can be found on Instagram @emily_inouye_huey.

Wataru "Wat" Misaka didn't feel like he fit in with the American or Japanese culture. As he struggled to find his place and deal with the effects of World War II, he kept playing basketball and reaching new heights.

The story was beautifully and masterfully written. There were many learning moments in this book from learning to be empathetic to others, learning about the unfairness of racism, the hard moments in World War II, dealing with struggles, and how to push through them. Overall, it's a book of perseverance and hope. When I read it to my son, it indirectly talked about some of our conversations. It's a book that speaks to kids in many different ways and I really hope the author writes more books like this. I love the basketball sound effects throughout the book that helps to get across the idea that even through hard times that Wat kept playing. I really encourage others to check it out and read it. To learn more, click here.

Please note that I received this book for free, however, this is my honest opinion. This review is in cooperation with Shadow Mountain Publishing. Please note that this post contains affiliate links that help support this blog.

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