Wat Takes His Shot

By Publishers Weekly

Japanese American basketball player Wataru Misaka (1923–2019)—the first player of color to compete in what is now the NBA—is the focus of this tenacity- celebrating biography. Describing him from the jump as an energetic kid, Kim notes how when his Issei parents “couldn’t afford expensive sports equipment... that didn’t stop Wat.” Excluded from whites-only sports leagues, Misaka played basketball in leagues formed by the Japanese American community, played on his junior high and high school teams, and, after his father’s death, additionally worked to support his family. Subsequent pages outline America’s entry into WWII and Misaka’s being taunted by racist basketball fans during college games before being drafted into the U.S. military, where he learned to speak Japanese in the Military Intelligence Service Language School and later traveled to Japan to interview survivors of the Hiroshima atomic bomb blast. Though his professional career with the New York Knicks was brief, his indomitable spirit broke new ground in basketball. In paneled digital illustrations, Iwata’s use of blurred backgrounds and inset scenes centers the visual narrative and adroitly moves events forward with dramatic side lighting. Background characters are portrayed with various skin tones. An author’s note and sources conclude.