From School Library Journal
Grade 1–3—A story about an American-Japanese girl whose family lives in Japan with her father's mother, Baachan. Her maternal grandmother visits from Maine and Nanami serves as a translator for her two grandmothers. Baachan is curious about Maine, particularly about seaweed harvesting. The cold ocean waters along its shore seem like a perfect environment for seaweed, so Baachan is surprised that it is not a big crop there. Nanami and her grandmothers spend a day gathering wakame, a delicious seaweed harvested in the village. Thompson provides fascinating details about life in rural Japan and the process of collecting, preserving, and preparing wakame, including a few easy recipes. She smoothly draws cultural comparisons while adroitly addressing the women's different perspectives on their childhoods during World War II. Colorful illustrations strengthen the parallels with interesting details, although the human figures sometimes seem flat. Particularly lovely are the endpapers—watery, seaweed-green watercolors depicting different types of seaweed on cream paper. This unpretentious story provides many opportunities for further exploration and discussion: the obvious comparisons of two cultures; the meaning of family; war and forgiveness; ecology, particularly the expansion of food resources; and differences and similarities among coastal environments around the world. An excellent choice for most collections.—Mary Hazelton, Elementary Schools in Warren & Waldoboro, ME
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From the Inside Flap
Nanami has two grandmothers: Baachan, who lives with her family in Japan, and Gram, who lives in Maine. When Gram visits Japan for the first time, Baachan takes her and Nanami on a trip to the seaside to gather Wakame, a long, curvy seaweed that floats near the shore.While the three assemble their equipment and ride the streetcar to the beach, Baachan explains how Wakame and other seaweeds are used in Japan. Gram shares stories about how seaweeds are used in Maine, and Nanami translates for them both.By the end of the day, Nanami's two grandmothers discover that they have much in common despite being from countries that fought in the war they both remember vividly. Now, looking out across the beach at the surfers, dog walkers, and seaweed gatherers, they share an appreciation of this precious peace.Holly Thompson's beautiful prose captures the exuberance of a young girl who easily traverses between two cultures and languages. It also illuminates the love and understanding that grow between two older women who are so different, yet share an unbreakable bond. Kazumi Wild's bright, vivid paintings make the Japanese landscape and the rocky shores of Maine come alive, reminding us all that we share this earth and the peace that we create.