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Thin Wood Walls Paperback – May 19, 2008


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Product Details

  • Age Range: 10 - 14 years
  • Grade Level: 5 - 9
  • Paperback: 240 pages
  • Publisher: HMH Books for Young Readers; Reprint edition (May 19, 2008)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0618809155
  • ISBN-13: 978-0618809158
  • Product Dimensions: 5.5 x 0.6 x 8.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 3.2 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (16 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #410,058 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From School Library Journal

Grade 5-8–The bombing of Pearl Harbor puts an end to 11-year-old Joe Hanada's happy-go-lucky life in the White River Valley near Seattle. Basketball, marbles, and Christmas plans are suddenly overshadowed by fears about the war. When longtime acquaintances begin to suspect Japanese-Americans of being spies, even the loyalty of Joe's Caucasian best friend can't soften the hurt of being called names or of having his father, a leader in the Issei community, taken away by the FBI. Joe finds comfort in his journal, where he records his impressions in both prose and haiku. After he is sent to the Tule Lake Relocation Camp in California with his older brother Mike and their mother and grandmother, Joe finds relief from the tedium of confinement in his writing. When Mike turns 18, he volunteers for the Army, eager to prove his loyalty. Not all of the detainees share his desire to fight for the U.S. Some request repatriation to Japan, while others forbid their children to speak English. The inclusion of many differing viewpoints within the Japanese-American community makes this book unique. Featuring a main character who grows and develops as historical events unfold, this well-written novel is a worthy companion to Ken Mochizuki's Baseball Saved Us (Lee & Low, 1993) and Yoshiko Uchida's Journey to Topaz (Turtleback, 1985) and Journey Home (McElderry, 1978).–Ginny Gustin, Sonoma County Library System, Santa Rosa, CA
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From Booklist

Gr. 6-10. In this first-person narrative, readers find out what it was like to be a young Japanese American boy in Seattle after the bombing of Pearl Harbor. First Joe's immigrant dad is arrested and held in secret. Then the rest of the family is removed to internment camps. Joe's older brother can't wait to join the army and prove his loyalty, and he fights the Nazis in Europe, but that doesn't reduce the prejudice and the family's hardship. There have been several books about the Japanese American internment--fiction, nonfiction, and even a few picture books--including Ken Mochizuki's Baseball Saved Us (1993) and Yoshiko Uchida's autobiographical accounts. Like some of those, this one makes history the drama, and Patneaude scrupulously reports the facts and shows the wide range of attitudes among Japanese Americans and whites, citizens and immigrants, even among members of one family. Basing his story on extensive research and interviews, the author does a fine job of bringing the daily experience up close through the story of an American kid torn from home. Hazel Rochman
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

Customer Reviews

4.6 out of 5 stars
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Linda Austin on August 22, 2010
Format: Paperback
Thin Wood Walls follows young Joe Hanada's family experiences during the time of WWII. After the bombing of Pearl Harbor, Joe's father is taken away by the FBI as a person of suspicion because he is a community leader. The rest of the family, including Joe's feisty grandmother and more feisty big brother Mike, are taken to Tule Lake Relocation Camp and must adjust to a new life while anxiously awaiting the return of the father.

Not much happens in the book, as camp life is boredom, waiting, hoping, but Joe tries to make do and make sense of what is happening while fearing what his big brother intends to do. The story is balanced, showing how not all white Americans were against the Japanese in the U.S. Some Japanese were very angry while many exhibited a sad stoicism. Perhaps what sets this book apart from other internment stories is that it is set in the Tule Lake camp, which was where troublemakers, the "no-no's" and those wanting to return to Japan were sent. This created a turbulent, sometimes dangerous atmosphere that other camps did not experience, at least not on that level. Thin Wood Walls delves into this in a manner suitable for middle-graders.

The book is a bit slow, but sweet, the writing rather plain despite the bits of haiku, but this will appeal to boys as well as girls and provide a thoughtful look at the sad facts of this long-hidden part of U.S. history. Expect a tear at the end, and be sure to read the Author's Notes.

Looking Like the Enemy: My Story of Imprisonment in Japanese American Internment Camps is also set in Tule Lake, but is a true story. A Young Reader's edition is coming out in Fall 2010.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By ljg on November 29, 2012
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
My grandson was reading this for school and wanted me to read it also. We both learned from it and were touched by it's poignant story.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Night Hawk on January 21, 2014
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I bought this book for my little brother because I really loved this author when I was a kid and he really likes the books.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Faith Smith on January 6, 2013
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
It was very good. The tension throughout the book was well written, and easy to understand. I was sucked into the book.
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Format: Kindle Edition
i read this book for my summer ar reading and i read it and enjoyed it. the history it teaches is great and the plot is very interesting. you have alot of compassion for the japanese experience when the book is through. marco liening 7th grade student holy rosary edmonds wa
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1 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Linda on October 17, 2006
Format: Hardcover
I love historical fiction, though usually not pieces set in the 20th century. This book however was an exception. I learned much about a shameful episode in our country's history and am planning on further study because this book has really picqued my interest.

The members of the fictional Hanada family consist of a range of character types that the author has deftly crafted to introduce readers to a range of internment camp experiences. This book is emotionally satisfying. It is a perfect tool to teach young people about the internment camp debacle.
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1 of 2 people found the following review helpful By M. Garrett on February 11, 2007
Format: Hardcover
This book is a little slow to start, but as you continue reading you just may find yourself wanting to know what happens to each of the family members. It was an eye opening story for me in learning about the Japanese internment camps and just how the Japanese people were treated even when many of them had nothing to do with the events in the world at that time. I would definitely recommend this book to middle school students as well as adults.
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By Shelley Syreen on August 2, 2014
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Appreciated Japanese perspective from a rough time in our history
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More About the Author



David Patneaude finally heeded the advice, "It's never too late to have a happy childhood," and began writing seriously (more or less) in the mid 1980's. His first novel, SOMEONE WAS WATCHING, winner of South Dakota and Utah book awards, was published in 1993. His books have been placed on young readers' lists in more than thirty states and honored by the New York Public Library (THE LAST MAN'S REWARD), the Society of School Librarians International (FRAMED IN FIRE), the Winnetka (Illinois) Public Library's "One Book, Two Villages" program (THIN WOOD WALLS), and the Washington State Public Library (THIN WOOD WALLS). His newest book, EPITAPH ROAD, was published in March 2010. When he's not sitting in a coffee shop writing, or at a school or library or conference talking about writing, or out on the running trail thinking about writing, he's at home in Woodinville, Washington with his wife Judy, a junior high librarian.

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