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Weedflower Paperback – January 27, 2009

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Product Details

  • Age Range: 10 - 14 years
  • Grade Level: 5 - 9
  • Paperback: 272 pages
  • Publisher: Atheneum Books for Young Readers; Reprint edition (January 27, 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1416975667
  • ISBN-13: 978-1416975663
  • Product Dimensions: 5.1 x 0.7 x 7.6 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 6.4 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (32 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #326,356 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From School Library Journal

Starred Review. Grade 5-8–When Pearl Harbor is attacked, the lives of a Japanese-American girl and her family are thrown into chaos. Sumiko, 12, and her younger brother, Tak-Tak, live with their aunt and uncle, grandfather Jiichan, and adult cousins on a flower farm in Southern California. Though often busy with chores, Sumiko enjoys working with the blossoms, particularly stock, or weedflowers (fragrant plants grown in a field). In the difficult days that follow the bombing, the family members fear for their safety and destroy many of their belongings. Then Uncle and Jiichan are taken to a prison camp, and the others are eventually sent to an assembly center at a racetrack, where they live in a horse stable. When they're moved to the Arizona desert, Sumiko misses the routine of her old life and struggles with despair. New friends help; she grows a garden with her neighbor and develops a tender relationship with a Mohave boy. She learns from him that the camp is on land taken from the Mohave reservation and finds that the tribe's plight parallels that of the incarcerated Japanese Americans. Kadohata brings into play some complex issues, but they realistically dovetail with Sumiko's growth from child to young woman. She is a sympathetic heroine, surrounded by well-crafted, fascinating people. The concise yet lyrical prose conveys her story in a compelling narrative that will resonate with a wide audience.–Marilyn Taniguchi, Beverly Hills Public Library, CA
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.


"Kadohata clearly and eloquently conveys her heroine's mixture of shame, anger and courage. Readers will be inspired...." -- Publishers Weekly

*Starred* "...it is a haunting story of dramatic loss and subtle triumphs." -- KLIATT

Kadohata combines impressive research and a lucent touch, bringing to life the confusion of dislocation.... -- Kirkus Spring & Summer Preview --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.

More About the Author

Cynthia Kadohata has lived in Chicago, Georgia, Arkansas, Michigan, Los Angeles, Boston, Pittsburgh, and New York City. She has worked as a waitress, sales clerk, typist, publicist, and secretary. She's back to Los Angeles now, probably permanently, and lives with George, her boyfriend of fifteen years; Sammy, her much-loved son; and two very funny and probably insane dogs. She has published three novels for grown-ups, and her writing has appeared in Grand Street, the Mississippi Review, The New Yorker, and Ploughshares. Her first children's novel, Kira-Kira, won the Newbery Medal in 2005. She has also published the children's books Weedflower, winner of the Pen-USA; Cracker, winner of six state awards as voted on by kids; Outside Beauty; A Million Shades of Gray; and The Thing About Luck, winner of the 2013 National Book Award. Her next novel is Half a World Away, due out September 2, 2014. Half a World Away is the tale of a troubled young boy who was adopted from Romania at age eight and whose parents are adopting a baby from Kazakhstan.

Customer Reviews

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This would be an excellent book to share with upper elementary and middle school students!
This story about a girl whose family is torn apart by the Japanese internment in the US, is beautiful, thoughtful and thought-provoking.
The ending was kinda sad:( this is the best book that I have ever read & i will read it again!

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

41 of 44 people found the following review helpful By E. R. Bird HALL OF FAMETOP 500 REVIEWER on April 25, 2006
Format: Hardcover
Full-disclosure time. I did not like "Kira-Kira". I respected what author Cynthia Kadohata was trying to do and I understood where she was trying to take her book but I did not respect how she did it. So when a co-worker I trust handed me, "Weedflower" and said, "It's actually good", I eyed the title with a critical eye. It takes a very extraordinary book to lift me out of my own personal prejudices and win me BACK over to a writer. That said, it seems that Kadohata has written such a book. Insightful, intelligent, historically accurate, and chock full of well-timed and well-written little tidbits, I've not found myself wanting to keep reading and reading a children's book this good in quite some time. Undoubtedly one of this year's rare can't-miss titles.

Sumiko is just thrilled. She's just been invited to her very first birthday party with all the other children in her class. Though she lives in California on her aunt and uncle's flower farm, Sumiko doesn't know a lot of other Japanese-American children at her school. When she arrives at the party, however, the mother of the birthday girl turns her away from the house. Not long after this humiliating incident, Pearl Harbor is bombed. Now Sumiko and her family members are getting shipped off to an internment camp for the duration of the war. They eventually find themselves in one located on an Indian Reservation in Arizona. The Japanese-Americans don't want to be there and the Indians don't want them. Still, while fighting boredom and the apparent death of her dreams, Sumiko is able to meet one of the Mohave boys that make deliveries to the camp and strike up a tentative friendship.
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15 of 15 people found the following review helpful By Teen Reads on May 31, 2006
Format: Hardcover
For Sumiko, it all starts with the birthday party of one of her classmates. When she arrives at a party to which the entire class has been invited, she is quietly and firmly ejected for being Japanese.

"It's not me, dear," her classmate's mother says as she pushes Sumiko out the door, "but my husband has a few friends in back, some of the other parents who helped him raise some money for a charity we work with...." The possibility that the other parents might take offense to Sumiko being Japanese is enough for Sumiko to lose her invitation to the party. What she doesn't realize is that these attitudes shared by many of the hakujin (white people) are also enough for her to lose her home.

When the United States is attacked by Japan at Pearl Harbor, the government rounds up all the Niekki --- people of Japanese ancestry, including American-born citizens --- sending them to internment camps in the center of the country. Leaving behind their flower farm, their home, and most of their belongings, Sumiko and her family are shipped to a relocation center in the Sonoran desert.

There, amidst the grief and distress of an uprooted life, they do their best to rebuild their lives and form a community. For Sumiko this means planting a garden filled with the colorful and spicy-smelling weedflowers they farmed at home.

Cynthia Kadohata won a Newbery Award for KIRA-KIRA, her portrait of a family of Japanese factory workers living in Georgia after WWII. One of the most difficult challenges for any writer is following up on such a resounding success. A book on Japanese internment camps is a subject that will resonate with librarians and teachers, but what is uncertain is whether or not it will also appeal to young readers.
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9 of 9 people found the following review helpful By mcHaiku on May 3, 2006
Format: Hardcover
"Weedflower" is the moving story of Japanese-Americans during WWII - - especially appropriate when the fragility of human rights is being demonstrated during yet another war. Sixth-grader Sumiko and her young brother Tak Tak were taken in by close relatives following the death of parents. Sumiko finds healing through hard work & dreams of someday owning a flower shop. Their life is one of few surprises, with strict adherence to the family regimen but Sumiko is crushed by rejection from the mother of a white schoolgirl who had invited her to a birthday party.

Then follows the unthinkable blow of the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor and the evacuation of "Nikkei" (Nisei) to detention centers. An important part of the book for me is what was NOT discussed; the curtain of dust in the desert is described in vivid detail so that readers will almost taste that suffocating bitterness. But Cynthia Kadohata does not mention the comfortable "others" shielded by a curtain of censorship employed by our government. It lowered this curtain separating those secure in their rights from those who couldn't know whether their rights would ever again be respected.

Curtained by dust and detention the Nisei agonized to make their lives orderly once more. Kadohata writes about the details of everyday life: in southern California where the flower farm was diligently tended & family standards adhered to /AND/ in the Camp built for detainees on a Mohave Indian reservation where the rigid family structure fell apart as goals were abandoned and purpose for living so deeply shaken.

Recollecting the days after Pearl Harbor I am surprised by the perception that the Quakers (Religious Society of Friends) were the only group expressing shock and concern.
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