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2018 Nominee

Heart of a Champion

By Ellen Schwartz. Published in 2016 by Tundra Books

Ellen Schwartz’s Heart of a Champion is, on one level, a story about a younger brother who saves his brother. Key to the novel, however, is the World War II setting and the background of the central characters. Set in 1941-2, Heart of a Champion has as its larger theme the expulsion and internment of British Columbia’s Japanese Canadians.

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12 thoughts on “Heart of a Champion

  1. St. Jerome

    This book was a very good book. It shows how the olden days were when war happened. I think the book has a deep meaning to it. Even if there are dark times, We will always find a light to guide us out. Ellen Schwartz has wrote this book into one of my favourites because of it’s page turners. (^_^)
    I love this book!!! 5 stars and millions more!

    – Adelyn

  2. Hillhurst School

    Heart of a Champion Book Review

    Heart of a Champion by Ellen Schwartz is a historical fiction book based on a real event that happened during 1941-1949, the bombing of Pearl Harbour. This book zooms in on a young boy’s life before and during his time in an internment camp but still having a dream to pursue. A dream that seems impossible to him with his suspected heart conditions. Though he is not allowed, he practices baseball with his brother who is on the Asahi baseball team. His friend, a Jewish girl, could not believe what is happening to her friend in Canada after what had happened back in Germany. Her family had come to Canada for peace but now, it didn’t seem Canada was so “great” after all. Eventually, after many struggles without Kenny’s father whom was sent to a road camp, they finally said bye to their past life and moved on. What they didn’t know was that the camp they were going to be sent to would change their lives forever. After being sent to the internment camp, he makes the best he could of a rubbish field into a baseball diamond while learning to be with friends with his enemies. Kenny Sakamoto and his family represent what many Japanese Canadians had to experience but instead of losing hope, they become stronger as a family. What internment camps have done to Japanese Canadians remain hurtful in maybe not a physical way, but in an emotional way.

    I have really enjoyed this book because the author makes Kenny so brave at times when he could have simply given up. For example, when he hears that he would be stuck with his enemy to share a “ house,” he remained straight-faced and brave. Along with the time when his brother, Mickey, bangs his hands really badly and had to go to the hospital, Kenny goes and does what a “ normal” boy would do, draw water, make shelves, play baseball, and working as a strong worker. The author gives me a really good and enjoyable story, but behind it, a real story which harsh reality cannot be hidden from the world. A reality that most schools don’t learn about, some people might even live their whole life without learning about what hurtful things that Canada has not only done to the Japanese but to many other groups that have settled in our country. Finally, I think the author does a very good job of describing things from origami flowers to old apartment buildings. This book taught me a lot like, making a friend out of a bully and the Japanese internment camps.

    I would recommend this book to people age 8 and above because a 7-year-old might not understand the whole thing about internment camps and may not be able to convey the message the author is trying to tell us that Japanese internment camps were bad and should be taken seriously. I would give this book a full five stars because what this book tells and means to me is really strong and powerful. This book would do a great job in telling the story of Japanese Canadian internment camps.

  3. Wildwood elementary school

    So sad! Its true as well. it was amazing how even though he had a heart problem, he still followed his dream and he conquered his physical challenge.
    4/5 stars!!!

  4. Wildwood School

    This was the best book Iv’e read this year by far. And it also taught me all about world war 2. On a scale of 1 to 10 I would give it a ten because because before I read this book I had no clue what happened to the Japanese Canadians and how unfairly they were treated. It opened my eyes.

  5. Wildwood school

    “Heart of a Champion” by Ellen Schwartz is very good because it teaches a lesson of never giving up. If you want to do it you can keep trying and maybe it will happen. It was a very good book because when you need to stop reading you don’t want to. It’s a real page turner and it always kept me interested. I would rate this book a 7/10.

  6. Wildwood school

    Heart of a Champion review

    “Heart of a Champion” by Ellen Schwartz is a great book. It teaches people about the war and how we were so unfair to the Japanese. We didn’t trust them even though they were Canadian and sent them to camps so they couldn’t spy on us. It also t teaches kids about different disabilities and that people that have them can get bullied and have difficulties fitting in. This book can keep you reading and begging for more. I would highly recommend it!

  7. General Stewart School - Wyatt

    it was great! i liked the characters and the story it told. I think it has a pretty good Chance of winning

  8. Springbank Middle School

    The sports themed cover turned me off so it was the last chapter book I read, but the story really wasn’t about baseball and I loved it!

  9. Springbank Middle School

    A great book about coming together in even the worst situations and how there is good in every situation if you look close enough. I think the story was very well written and I loved the plot in general. I think this is a great coming of age story and an inspiring tale. Joceline


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