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So Far from the Sea Paperback – June 29, 2009


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Product Details

  • Age Range: 9 - 12 years
  • Grade Level: 4 - 7
  • Paperback: 32 pages
  • Publisher: HMH Books for Young Readers; Reprint edition (June 29, 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0547237529
  • ISBN-13: 978-0547237527
  • Product Dimensions: 0.2 x 10.2 x 10.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 6.4 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (11 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #57,533 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Bunting's (Smoky Night) eloquent yet spare narrative introduces nine-year-old Laura, who recounts her family's 1972 visit to the site of the former Manzanar War Relocation Camp in eastern California. Thirty years earlier, her father and his parents were interned there, along with 10,000 other Japanese Americans. Soon to move to Boston, Laura, her younger brother and parents pay a final visit to the grave of the children's grandfather, a tuna fisherman robbed of his boat, home and dignity when the U.S. government sent his family to this remote camp, far from the sea he loved. Thoughtful and sympathetic, Laura has brought a chillingly ironic offering for the ancestor she never knew. It is the neckerchief from her father's Cub Scout uniform, which her grandfather had insisted his son wear on the day soldiers arrived at their home to transport them to the camp: "That way they will know you are a true American and they will not take you." Soentpiet's (More Than Anything Else) portrait of the uniformed boy respectfully saluting the soldiers as his mournful parents embrace is only one of numerous wrenching images that will haunt readers long after the last page is turned. Rendered with striking clarity, the artist's watercolors recreate two vastly different settings, evoking the tense 1940s scenarios in black and white and the serene yet wistful 1970s setting in bright color. An exceptionally effective collaboration. Ages 5-9.
Copyright 1998 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From School Library Journal

Grade 2-5AAll the more moving in its restraint, this picture-book account of a fictional family reveals, with gentle dignity, a sad chapter in American history. Laura Iwasaki and her Japanese-American family will soon move from California to Boston, so they are making one last visit to Laura's grandfather's grave, which lies near the Sierra Nevada Mountains, so far from the sea he loved. Before World War II, he was a fisherman. Then, along with Laura's father, her grandmother, and 10,000 other Japanese Americans, he was sent to the Manzanar War Relocation Center. There he died, and his grave is marked with only a ring of stones. The family leaves silk flowers, but Laura leaves her own special memento. Soentpiet's impressionistic watercolors perfectly complement Bunting's evocative text. Both create a palpable sense of Manzanar as it is today: a windy, isolated place, its buildings gone, dominated by snow-covered mountains. Black-and-white paintings that suggest '40s photographs illustrate Laura's father's memories of the camp. This book is much more personal than Sheila Hamanaka's nonfiction text for her mural, The Journey (Orchard, 1990), and more accessible. At the story's end, Laura whispers, "It was wrong." Her father answers, "Sometimes in the end there is no right or wrong....It is just a thing that happened long years ago. A thing that cannot be changed." Yet art and text invite a new generation of Americans to remember that things can go terribly wrong when fear and hysteria prevail.AMargaret A. Chang, Massachusetts College of Liberal Arts
Copyright 1998 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

Customer Reviews

4.5 out of 5 stars
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This is a picture book for adults as well as children.
Hope Irvin Marston
We live very close to Minidoka/ Hunt Internmanet Camp in Idaho and this is helpful with programs about who was sent there and why.
P. Hamilton
Chris Soetpiet's illustrations are beautiful, with excellent use of both color and black and white.
Jedidiah Carosaari

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

10 of 10 people found the following review helpful By Jedidiah Carosaari VINE VOICE on April 3, 2002
Format: Hardcover
Every time I read this story to the children in the library I worked at I cried. A year later I still remember it vividly. The book showed the atrocity of what we did simply by showing the emotions of Japanese-Americans 50 years later. One truly feels for the father uprooted from his life and culture; the grandfather uprooted from the sea and his fishing. I can relate to the tragedy of being removed from the water. Eve Bunting builds to a dramatic, emotional climax- which is not easy to do in a short children's book. Chris Soetpiet's illustrations are beautiful, with excellent use of both color and black and white. And the short historical synopsis at the end provides opportunity to discuss with children the reality behind the story.
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9 of 9 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on June 7, 2000
Format: Hardcover
This story is told through the eyes of a little girl, Laura, who is going to visit her grandfather's grave one last time before the family moves out of the area. The grandfather's grave is located in the abandoned Manzanar Relocation Camp.
Laura's parents tell of their struggles and their lives inside of the relocation camps. Laura listens of the injustices and trys to understand.
This is a wonderful story, with a message of hope and moving on told as only Eve Bunting can.
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9 of 9 people found the following review helpful By "miezee" on November 3, 2002
Format: Hardcover
Wonderful, chilling book about the imprisonment(more euphemistically called internment by the governmeny) of Japanese-Americans during world war too, told from the point of view of a child who goes to visit one of the prisons(more euphemistically called "camps"), where her grandfather died, so far from the sea, where he had lived before his life was interrupted. It is sad and engulfing, with snippets of irony, that gets the message across with the help of bright pictures.
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on December 31, 2001
Format: Hardcover
The site of the Manzanar Relocation Center is found on Hwy 395 South in the Owens Valley of California at the foothills of the Sierras. I have stopped there on several occasions and imagined life as it might have been for the Japanese held there during WWII. Also, I have seen the display of artifacts and photographs at the Eastern California Museum in nearby Independence, CA. It is worth visiting.
I had read stories written for adults on this topic, but Eve Bunting's story for children truly captured my heart. It is beautifully written and well illustrated and moved me to tears. It seemed especially poignant now in the light of the recent events resulting from terrorism; thank God we no longer suspect every one. I will always remember reading this book.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful By Shonna Gariepy on October 7, 2006
Format: Hardcover
My daughter got this from the library at school this week and immediately my husband and I decided this is a book she should have. In the 5th grade living in Missoula, Montana, I was told by my Japanese-American teacher that Missoula had been the site of such a camp. I didn't want to believe her because I thought of the prison camps in Germany and immediately equated the two. Though the history of the American prison camps has been all-but buried, it's works like this that will allow us to teach our children and hopefully they will learn from the mistakes made. This heart-wrenching tale is of a family forced away from the sea where the grandfather had his boat and his fishing business to the camp in the Sierra Nevadas. The small boy at the camp later took his own family to the site to leave offerings at his father's grave at the camp. During this time, his daughter, Laura, left his cub scout scarf - an acknowledgement of a childhood stolen and that they were no less American than those who had imprisoned them there. The lessons of empathy and love are needed now more than ever. I would HIGHLY suggest this book to anyone able to read. My first grader has checked it out two weeks in a row - this is one book worth owning!
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By D. Suiter on October 24, 2008
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Wow. I checked this out to read to a class of ninth graders as part of a lesson on World War II relocation camps. I just gave it a test run by reading it out loud to myself, and honestly, I don't know if I can do it. By the middle of the book I found my voice breaking, and by the end I couldn't read it out loud any more. From an historical perspective, it is flawlessly done, with gorgeous illustrations, and it provides readers with a very realistic view of the Japanese American experience during the war. It's beautifully written and captures real emotion in a slice-of-life narrative about a family returning to a now-closed internment camp thirty years later to pay their last respects to the kids' grandfather, one of those who died at camp. The symbolism is poignant and packed with meaning--if you can handle the emotion that it will dredge up in you, I highly recommend it as a way of helping students to develop empathy for and understanding of victims of racial discrimination.
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More About the Author

Eve Bunting has written more than 200 books for children, many of which can be found in libraries around the world. Her other Clarion titles for very young readers include My Big Boy Bed, which was also illustrated by Maggie Smith, and Little Bear's Little Boat, illustrated by Nancy Carpenter. She lives in Pasadena, California.

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