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by Cynthia Kadohata


School Library Journal:

/* Starred Review */ Gr 5-8 –When Pearl Harbor is attacked, the lives of a Japanese- American girl and her family are thrown into chaos. Sumiko,12, and her younger brother, Tak-Tak, live with their aunt and uncle, grandfather Jiichan, and adult cousins on a flower farm in Southern California. Though often busy with chores, Sumiko enjoys working with the blossoms, particularly stock, or weedflowers (fragrant plants grown in a field). In the difficult days that follow the bombing, the family members fear for their safety and destroy many of their belongings. Then Uncle and Jiichan are taken to a prison camp, and the others are eventually sent to an assembly center at a racetrack, where they live in a horse stable. When they’re moved to the Arizona desert, Sumiko misses the routine of her old life and struggles with despair. New friends help; she grows a garden with her neighbor and develops a tender relationship with a Mohave boy. She learns from him that the camp is on land taken from the Mohave reservation and finds that the tribe’s plight parallels that of the incarcerated Japanese Americans. Kadohata brings into play some complex issues, but they realistically dovetail with Sumiko’s growth from child to young woman. She is a sympathetic heroine, surrounded by well-crafted, fascinating people. The concise yet lyrical prose conveys her story in a compelling narrative that will resonate with a wide audience.–Marilyn Taniguchi, Beverly Hills Public Library, CA –Marilyn Taniguchi (Reviewed July 1, 2006) (School Library Journal, vol 52, issue 7, p106)


  • Booklist Editors’ Choice – Books for Youth – Middle Readers Category: 2006
  • Jane Addams Children’s Book  Awards: Books for Older Children



5th Grade, 6th Grade, 7th Grade, 8th Grade, Ages 9-12, Historical Fiction, WWII