I’m sure you are familiar with the saying “So many books, so little time.” I’m feeling a bit like that as I approach my blog’s summer hiatus. There are several books I want to tell you about before I take my summer break, so nearly all the posts from now until then will be book recommendation posts. I hope you find some good summer reading through these posts!
Author: Kirby Larson
Publisher: New York, Scholastic, 2014.
Genre: Fiction based on fact
Audience Age: 9 to 12
Themes/topics: Internment of Japanese-Americans during World War II, friendship, coping
Opening Sentences: Mitsi Kashino packed her sketch pad, her binder, and her worry in her book bag.
Synopsis: As the book opens, Mitsi’s worry centers around the way some kids have started to treat her in school. Since the bombing of Pearl Harbor, some kids call her names and insinuate that all people of Japanese heritage are suspect. That is bad enough. Then her best friends turn their backs on her, influenced by another girl.
And then the government shows that it also thinks that all are suspect. Mitsi and her family have to face leaving their home and being taken to one of the internment camps that were set up in both the United States and Canada to isolate and basically imprison people of Japanese ancestry during World War II.
Mitsi also has to leave her beloved dog, Dash, behind. She decides to leave him with her new friend, an elderly lady who experienced difficulty during the First World War because of her husband’s German heritage. She understands.
The quarters for the families are cramped, crowded together, and muddy. Mitsi’s brother gets involved with a bad crowd. Her grandmother goes her own way with other older women. The family seems to be splitting apart. Mitsi finds it hard to make friends and to know who to trust … until letters start to arrive from her dog, Dash!
People love hearing about the letters, and those letters begin to give the people hope. Mitsi begins to make friends, although she still yearns for the friends back home who turned away from her. Can she bring her family back together? And will she ever see Dash and her old friends again?
This is a very difficult part of our history for any of us to understand. This book does a good job of making it real for kids (and for adults). It is important for us to learn about our history, and to learn from our history, so that we ensure that such things never happen again.
For Further Enrichment: When I told a friend about this book, she said she had once toured a former internment camp in British Columbia, and it was an eye opening and emotionally shattering experience. There are such tours available in Canada and in the United States.
There is a website/blog called The Children’s War to guide kids to books about World War II. The link leads to their post about Dash.
Here’s the page devoted to Dash on the author’s website.
Availability: Readily available. Check with your local independent bookstore!
I’m adding this book to my list of books read for The Unconventional Librarian’s Diversity Reading Challenge.