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
For this years’ historical fiction book clubs, I was thinking of having more than one selection of books based on the internment of Japanese Americans during World War II. This seems to be a topic that really interests my students because the injustice happened here at home, and it invariably leads to important discussions about citizenship, loyalty, xenophobia, racism, and justice. Graham Salisbury’s Under the Blood-Red Sun is one of our long time titles for this slice of historical fiction, but I’ve been on the look out for another, slightly easier, read for my sixth graders. Voila – Kirby Larson’s Dash! Here’s the jacket copy:
Although Mitsi Kashino and her family are swept up in the wave of anti-Japanese sentiment following the attack on Pearl Harbor, Mitsi never expects to lose her home — or her beloved dog, Dash. But, as World War II rages and people of Japanese descent are forced into incarceration camps, Mitsi is separated from Dash, her classmates, and life as she knows it. The camp is a crowded and unfamiliar place, whose dusty floors, seemingly endless lines, and barbed wire fences begin to unravel the strong Kashino family ties. With the help of a friendly neighbor back home, Mitsi remains connected to Dash in spite of the hard times, holding on to the hope that the war will end soon and life will return to normal. Though they’ve lost their home, will the Kashino family also lose their sense of family? And will Mitsi and Dash ever be reunited?
Dash is a story rich in believable details – Mitsi’s classmates and neighbors respond to the events of the time sometimes with kindness and sometimes not. Each interaction poses interesting questions, and I’m sure my students will be equally caught up in the story of how Mitsi’s family copes with all the disruption and uncertainty that suddenly comes into their lives. Kirby Larson does a wonderful job of recreating daily life in the internment camps, and I grew to love Mitsi, who must sort through all the conflicting realities of being an American of Japanese descent in a time of war.
Nina Nolan’s lovely picture book biography, Mahalia Jackson:Walking With Kings and Queens was a delightful glimpse into the life and inspirations of this extraordinary gospel singer. John Holyfield’s vivid paintings do so much to capture this story of a young girl who grew up knowing what to do with her gift: “Shout unto the Lord with the voice of the trumpet.” (Psalm 47)
Nicola Davies’ The Promise is a truly extraordinary book. I’ve read and re-read this one so many times since I first came upon it in our local library, for its rich language, poignant story, and brilliant illustrations (by Laura Carlin). I’ll let this video by the author speak to the power of this book:
I’ve purchased this one for my classroom, and can’t wait to share its message with my kids. I, too, believe that this story has got an important message.
Here’s Laura Carlin discussing the way she created the arresting artwork for The Promise: