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House of the Red Fish Hardcover – July 25, 2006

5.0 out of 5 stars 8 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From School Library Journal

Grade 6-9–This sequel to Under the Blood-Red Sun (Delacorte, 1994) continues the story of Tomi Nakaji, a Japanese American living on the island of Oahu. It's 1943 and Tomi, now 13, is forced into the role of the man of the house. His father has been arrested and imprisoned; his grandfather has also been taken away. All people of Japanese descent are suspect in the virulent racism of the times. Vigilantes stalk the streets, enforcing a curfew. Tomi decides to keep hope and faith alive that his father will return by raising Papa's fishing boat, the Taiyo Maru, a sampan that was sunk by the army. His former friend, Keet Wilson, has become his nemesis, bullying, stealing from, and terrorizing Tomi. Other haoles, or white people, however, become allies in his ultimately successful struggle to raise the boat and look toward a better future. The nearly impossible task is accomplished largely through Tomi's determination and perseverance and his ingenious approaches to the problem. Salisbury paints the tropical setting with vivid details. He writes with balance of the ways in which war touches people, creating characters with fully realized motivations. It is not necessary to have read the first book, as the author seamlessly brings his audience up to date. Give this to readers who enjoyed Rodman Philbrick's The Young Man and the Sea (Scholastic, 2004), another story with an ocean setting and a fiercely determined boy's coming of age.–Connie Tyrrell Burns, Mahoney Middle School, South Portland, ME
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

From Booklist

Gr. 5-8. Like its prequel, Under the Blood-Red Sun (2005), which won a Scott O'Dell Award for Historical Fiction, this novel tells of the hardship and vicious prejudice suffered by Japanese Americans in Hawaii, but it also conveys a sense of community that cuts across race and generations. After his father is deported to an internment camp following the attack on Pearl Harbor, Tomi Nakaji, 14, determines to raise Papa's fishing boat, which had been sunk by the army. Tomi's best friend, Billy, who is a haole (white), helps him, as do the boys' Hawaiian friends and many of their family members--including Tomi's grouchy grandfather, who has returned from the camps. The rescue effort, which works as a metaphor for hope and reconciliation, is rooted in hands-on facts of how, together, the people use pontoons, air compressors, rope, and just plain muscle to bring the heavy boat back into the world. Many readers, even those who don't enjoy historical fiction, will like the portrayal of the work and the male camaraderie. For more books about Japanese Americans during and following Pearl Harbor suggest Salisbury's Eyes of the Emperor (2005) and Harry Mazer's A Boy No More (2004). Hazel Rochman
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved
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Product Details

  • Age Range: 12 and up
  • Grade Level: 7 and up
  • Lexile Measure: 610L (What's this?)
  • Hardcover: 304 pages
  • Publisher: Wendy Lamb Books; First Edition, First Printing edition (July 25, 2006)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0385731213
  • ISBN-13: 978-0385731218
  • Product Dimensions: 5.8 x 1 x 8.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 12.8 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (8 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,491,723 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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By E. R. Bird HALL OF FAMETOP 500 REVIEWER on August 8, 2006
Format: Hardcover
Sequels are tricky beasties and any author that attempts one is going to have to wrangle with a variety of problems. On the one hand, they have to satisfy their core fan base. The people who adored the earlier book and presumably clamored for a sequel in the first place. Then you have the new crop of readers. This is especially true with children's fiction. Kids grow up and often abandon the authors they loved when they were young (at least through adolescence). In 1994 Graham Salisbury wrote the award winning "Under the Blood-Red Sun". Now, twelve years later, he has come out with a long-awaited sequel, "House of the Red Fish". Fortunately, Salisbury's earlier title is so well-known that the requisite fan-base is already in place and ready. However, there's yet another problem with writing sequels. They have to be able to stand on their own. If you absolutely have to have read the previous book, then your sequel, nice as it is, is going to collapse under its own weight. And weighty books of this nature don't win awards. I, personally, had never read "Under the Blood-Red Sun", so I felt that I was in a pretty good position to determine how well "House of the Red Fish" stood on its own two feet. The advantage to having never read a work by an author like Graham Salisbury is that his talents have a tendency whop you upside the head and leave you wanting more. "House of the Red Fish" is everything an author would want out of a title. Consider this puppy a contender.

Tomi is still dealing with the fact that his father and grampa are interned far from home merely because they are of Japanese ancestry. It's 1943 and America is at war with Japan, many of its white citizens terrified of their Asian neighbors.
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Format: Library Binding
Salisbury's newest book, House of the Red Fish, is a masterful exploration of the nuances of prejudice, touching on many of the issues (honor, courage, friendship, and the bond between fathers and sons) that Salisbury has probed in his earlier work.

The attack on Pearl Harbor didn't only steal Tomi's father and grandfather from his life (they were arrested after the attack). It stole his dream of fishing with his father on his father's boat, the Taiyo Maru, which is sitting now underwater, sunk by the Navy under suspicion that it and its owner might aid invading Japanese forces.

Tomi wants to bring the boat back to the surface and dry it out so that it's ready to sail out to sea when his father returns home from prison. Tomi also wants to make his absent father proud... to carry on the Japanese tradition of sons honoring their fathers.

To succeed, Tomi must persevere in the face of trouble just like the koi-the fish that symbolizes masculinity and strength because it can swim upstream against strong currents.

But it's not easy for Tomi to remain loyal to his family's Japanese heritage or his father's admonitions not to fight, not to shame the family, especially when the red paper koi that his mother raises on a bamboo pole above the roof to celebrate Tango-no-Sekku (Boy's Festival) is destroyed.

Tomi's relationships with his friends, a mix of haole (white), Portugese, Hawaiian, and Japanese boys, ring true to life as they fend off attacks by a white-only gang, and work together to raise Tomi's father's boat from the canal.

In the end, House of the Red Fish is a book about the joy and bonds of friendship, as well as what it truly means to look beneath a person's skin color and speech patterns to understand what he's truly made of.
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Format: Hardcover
Here it is, HOUSE OF THE RED FISH, the eagerly awaited sequel to Graham Salisbury's UNDER THE BLOOD-RED SUN. Readers already acquainted with Tomi and Billy (and their neighbor but "enemy" Keet Wilson) will delight in renewing friendships and going on more adventures in Salisbury's newest novel. HOUSE OF THE RED FISH opens with a brief flashback to September 1941, but the next chapter takes us to March 1943. Tomi Nakaji and Billy Davis, still best friends, are now ninth graders at Roosevelt High. Salisbury makes readers very aware of the ravages of the attack on Pearl Harbor and the way life in Hawaii has changed in the interim for everyone, but especially for Japanese Americans like narrator Tomi and his family. The setting details subtly include many aspects of life in Hawaii during World War II: the boys get stopped, asked for their ID's, and warned that they should also have their gas masks with them; barbed wire fences stretch across the beaches; cardboard must cover the windows of their home each night; curfew is imposed on all residents. The World War II years in Hawaii were rife with prejudice against Japanese Americans--often suspected to be "enemy aliens" (43). However, Salisbury shows how Billy's haole family accept his friendship with Tomi and how Billy himself, paradoxically wise beyond his years yet still charmingly naïve, explains to Tomi why Keet is no longer his friend. Tomi tells us: "It took me a week to force it out of him [Billy]. Keet Wilson turned on me because I was Japanese, and he had been told by his friends at school that white guys weren't supposed to like Japanese guys" (17).

Early in the novel, the boys amble down to the nearby Ala Wai Canal where Papa's sampan, sunk by the U.S.
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