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Paper Wishes Hardcover – January 5, 2016
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“This historical debut speaks volumes of love and longing.” ―Kirkus Reviews, starred review
“A superior story of survival and love set during this dark time in American history.” ―School Library Journal, starred review
“This engaging...book offers a personal perspective on events and reasons to care about the outcome. A fine selection for historical-fiction fans.” ―Booklist
“Engrossing and heartrending.” ―Publishers Weekly
“...with the memory of the internment camps being volleyed about in current presidential campaign rhetoric, comes Lois Sepahban's PAPER WISHES, a devastating and brave fiction debut that recounts the plight of Manami, a girl from Bainbridge Island, Wash., who is sent to the Manzanar camp in the California desert...What sets Manami's story apart is the delicate way Sepahban handles her obsession with and guilt about leaving the dog behind. An introvert who is made mute by the trauma she experiences, Manami expresses herself by drawing pictures, , including the images of Yujiin that she throws in the Manzanar winds as prayers or wishes for the dog’s return. We watch as she negotiates the unknown through a generous teacher and family members, including a grandfather who is with her at the “prison-village,” a stroke of luck, since most nisei did not have that advantage...although the tone is sober and sad, it’s also a novel in which a mute child finds her voice, at last.” ―The New York Times
“Lois Sepahban presents a somber but emotionally true story of WWII Japanese American internment in Paper Wishes. In 1942, ten-year-old Manami and her family are forced to leave their home on Bainbridge Island, Washington, for Manzanar, an internment camp in the California desert. Grandfather has arranged for their beloved dog Yujiin to stay with their pastor, but Manami hides the pup in her coat instead. On the mainland, a soldier discovers him, and he is left behind in a crate, his fate unknown. Heartbroken, Manami becomes mute. Her emotional trauma is sensitively portrayed, but she recovers her voice when she needs it most, and the story closes on a hopeful note.” ―The Horn Book
About the Author
Lois Sepahban lives in Herrodsburg, Kentucky, where she writes children's nonfiction books for the school library market. Paper Wishes is her first novel. Visit her online at loissepahban.com.
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Top customer reviews
We all had tears in our eyes after several chapters.
They now have a better understanding of a part of Amercian history that should never be forgotten. And they learned that the human spirit is strong and resilient, and that love keeps people together.
You know what? A book about a kid getting sent to a prison camp isn’t sad enough. Nope, nope, nope. In order to make it truly sad, you have to pry the kid’s beloved pet away from her while she’s on the way to the prison camp.
Needless to say, this book is not one of those “let’s gloss over this dreadful topic for the sake of kids’ sensitivities” books. And that is one thing I appreciate about this book. I recently read some excerpts of an E.B. White interview in which he talks about writing for children. In it, he said, “Anyone who writes down to children is simply wasting his time. You have to write up, not down. Children are demanding. They are the most attentive, curious, eager, observant, sensitive, quick, and generally congenial readers on earth. They accept, almost without question, anything you present them with, as long as it is presented honestly, fearlessly, and clearly.” Lois Sepahban seems to follow this line of thinking.
There are some beacons of light (Manami’s sweet and supportive best friend, her loving family, her understanding and generous teacher), but the book doesn’t look at what a s***ty situation the prison camps were (the climate, the living conditions, the losses, the lack of freedom) through rose-colored glasses. It’s a good (if brief) introduction to a very heavy topic for kids.
Life in the prison camp is nothing like life back on the island where she walked on the beach with her dog and Grandpa. Where she loved her school and playing with her friends. Where she didn’t have to share a small room with her parents and grandfather, and other families too. Where there is only dust and soldiers and not enough tea.
As much as your heart will break for Manami, Lois Sepahban is masterful at weaving hope and love and friendship into this story. The book is rich in details – you can feel the dust on your skin and the heat of the harsh sun. Beautifully written, this is a book that belongs on everyone’s shelves.
A simple and beautiful story that readers of any age with enjoy and opens our eyes to a sad part of our American history.
This book was recommended by my school district's head librarian, after I told her about "The War that Saved My Life," which I loved. This one not so much. However, I finished it, and that's always a good sign.
Most recent customer reviews
This is a fast read that would be great for students in 5th-7th grade and also historical fiction lovers.Read more