Tag Archives: Japanese Americans

Not really a dog story

25 Feb


Paper Wishes  by Lois Sepahban first came to may attention at the Macmillan breakfast I attended at the ALA meeting in Boston. It really isn’t a dog book. The dog in the book disappears early, when the protagonist, Manami, is forced to leave him behind as her family is “relocated” from their home on Bainbridge Island to Manzanar Internment Camp.

Although it is set during the early months of  incarceration when Manami has become mute from the trauma, not so much because of the internment, although that certainly plays a part. No, Manami is haunted by guilt because, her dog Yujin was supposed to be left behind. Neighbors were going to come by later to pick him up and give him a new home. But Manami couldn’t bear to see him left behind and tries to sneak him along. When Yujin is discovered, he is crated and Manami’s last view of him is in a crate at a railway station. She is obsessively worried about what became of him and sends him messages on papers she lets fly in the winds of Manzanar.

Although Sepahban is not Japanese-American, she sensitively portrays the internment, which is really the vehicle for the story of a traumatized child who finds her voice. And it is Manami’s voice, Sepahban’s poetically sparse language,  that is the star of this book. It is a style reminiscent of Sarah, Plain and Tall by Patricia MacLachlan.

This is an excellent story for 3rd – 5th  grade readers and would be a fantastic introduction to the history of Japanese-American internment.

YALSA Morris/Nonfiction Challenge Check-in #2

28 Dec

Thank you to the  Sunset High School library for lending me the book I read this week for the YALSA Morris/Nonfiction Challenge. I couldn’t find it in the Multnomah County Library, The Washington County Cooperative Library System, or any of the Beaverton School District libraries, except for the library at Sunset High. Thanks goodness Imprisoned: The Betrayal of Japanese Americans During World War II written by Martin W. Sandler was worth the wait!


One of the tricks of writing nonfiction is to take a new perspective or add new information to the cannon. Sandler manages to do this, beginning his book with the immigration of Japanese to America, reactions to it, and then the backlash when Pearl Harbor was bombed.

What I found most compelling is the way Sandler portrays the ingenuity and courage of the Japanese Americans’ response. Like Courage Has No Color,  he juxtaposes the American “fight for freedom” in Europe with the plight those whose freedom has been compromised at home. He also follows the story through to the present, explain gin what Japanese Americans have done to receive apologies and restitution.

An excellent read for anyone.

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