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4.6 out of 5 stars
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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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on June 7, 2000
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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on November 3, 2002
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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on December 31, 2001
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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on October 7, 2006
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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on October 24, 2008
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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on December 7, 2012
This book is beautiful and sad. It is about reparation. A Korean American man who lived in Japan with his Korean American parents and heard from his father about being in the Japanese camps in the U.S. was overwhelmed with emotion when I gave him this book.
Sybil Blazej-Yee, Librarian, Artist
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on November 25, 2013
I found this picture EXTREMELY problematic. The camps were an awful time and something that should be remembered for their awfulness. The last page of the book ends with the little girl talking about how what they did was wrong. The father responds with "there is no right or wrong, it is just a thing that happened long years ago." The internment of Japanese, the Holocaust, slavery are not things that "just happened long ago." To fully absolve the WRONGNESS of this situation is wholly irresponsible on the part of the author and the publisher. While I understand that this is a book for younger children so you don't want to get into great detail about all the "wrong," to write it off as just something in the past is completely unacceptable. As a former teacher and current teacher educator, many of my students were offended and astounded by this ending.
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on April 12, 2014
Eva Bunting has the ability to tell an honest story that makes the truth known in a gut-wrenching way. She relates what happened through the words of the father in the story, and then the implications, through his seven-year-old daughter. She is skilled at painting an accurate picture of the innocent who suffered...and how it impacts their children and grandchildren today. She does it without condemning the ones who made the decision to relocate all people of Japanese ancestry living on the West Coast after the Japanese bombed Pearl Harbor.

I was six-years-old when Pearl Harbor was attacked. It was not until many years later that I learned about the relocation of the Japanese Americans. I have a hunch the majority of Americans don't know about it.

In Eva's story the father says, "We have to put it (the unfair relocation) behind us," yet his comments show the depth of his grief that his father died at Manzanar where he and other members of his family were held...and that his wife was relocated in a colder, snowier camp in Wyoming.

As the story is told, the expressions on the faces of the family members show their anguish when they remember. The drawings and the text are a perfect match as both the seven-year-old Laura and her younger brother are frightened as they hear the story again. Laura says she hears the ghosts whispering and Thomas's behavior shows he is scared.

This is a picture book for adults as well as children. We need to know the not-so-honorable parts of our history as well as the things that make us pop our buttons.

Thank you, Eva and Chris, for opening our eyes to the truth of this unfair treatment of our Japanese families in the 1940's.
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on June 12, 2011
Previous reviewers have told the story. The text and the art work are excellent. For anyone wanting to learn more about the Japanese-American experience during WW11 I recommend this book. It captivates you and makes you want to learn more. It deserves more than 5 stars!
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