It’s Monday, What are You Reading is a meme hosted by Jen from Teach Mentor Texts and Kellee and Ricki from Unleashing Readers and Sheila at BookJourney
There are so few middle grade historical fiction books about the internment of Japanese Americans during World War II, and yet this is such an important part of American history to expose our kids to. So, when I spied Sandra Dallas’ Red Berries, White Clouds, Blue Sky, I immediately bought a copy for my classroom (those Barnes and Noble gift cards are SO appreciated!).
12 year old Tomi Itano loves her life in California. Her family’s strawberry farm is a source of pride, and she considers herself just another all-American girl living an all-American life. Then, the Japanese bomb Pearl Harbor, and Tomi’s life changes overnight. First, there are curfews, the sudden turning away of her own community, and the arrest of her father. Then, Tomi and the rest of her family are told to leave everything behind and are shipped off from one internment camp to another.
Through all the hard times that follow, Tomi and everyone around her wonder how Americans could treat Americans this way. Through all the hardships they must endure, they hold on to the hope that they countrymen will come to their senses and understand that they are not the enemy.
This simply told story would be a wonderful companion to Graham Salisbury’s more complex Under The Blood Red Sun for a historical fiction book club. There are similar themes of adjusting to prejudice, coming to terms with one’s ethnic identity, and finding solidarity under conditions of extreme stress. I think that my sixth graders would very much enjoy reading and discussing this book.