Waiting for Nanea – Author Kirby Larson

There is just over a month until the release of Nanea Mitchell (August 24th), a Hawaiian girl living at the time of Pearl Harbor.  Nanea’s books are written by distinguished author Kirby Larson.

Prior to writing Nanea’s books, Larson wrote about the Pearl Harbor-era in her book Dear America – The Diary of Piper Davis: The Fences Between Us.  The book opens in Seattle, 1941, with Piper’s brother Hank departing for his naval base in Pearl Harbor.  Piper’s father is a Baptist minister who serves the Japanese-American community in Seattle.

The book focuses on the after-effects of the bombing of Pearl Harbor, namely the war with Japan and relocation/imprisonment of innocent Japanese-Americans living on the west coast.  This story about an attack leading to war and racial profiling of U.S. citizens seems terribly timely and familiar.

Before the war, Piper is just a regular 13 year-old girl upset because she is a “PK” (Preacher’s Kid) and therefore she isn’t allowed to wear lipstick.

Monday, November 10, 1941

It’s not fair!  I bought that tube of Tangee lipstick with my own money, and Pop won’t let me wear it.  He wants me to be such a Goody Two-shoes. . . . All I know for sure is that I am the only girl in the seventh grade with naked lips.

After the bombing, Piper finds herself with a first-hand view of the conditions experienced by innocent Japanese-Americans who were relocated to remote deserts and incarcerated: no sewer, no coal to heat with, extremely poor food, and no running water.

I was able to visit one of the Japanese camps in California many years ago.  Manzanar was one of 10 camps used to relocate and imprison Japanese-Americans because of their ethnicity.  It is in a very remote part of California near the Mojave desert.

IMG_0197

My photo of Manzanar.  I believe this is the Guard Station at the entrance to the camp.

Larson’s Dear America book brings to life many timely ethical issues, which I will leave to you to ponder should you pick up the book.  I recommend the book 5th grade and up based on the complex social issues of this era.

Brianna adds . . . 

Another great World War II book written by Kirby Larson is called Dash.  Eleven year-old Mitsi Kashino, a Japanese – American, has lived a pretty normal life with her parents, siblings, and beloved dog Dash. That was up until the attack on Pearl Harbor and the terrifying anti – Japanese sentiment. Many of her friends and classmates begin to turn on her.

Mitsi and her family are sent to a scary, big incarceration camp. The worst part is that Mitsi is separated from her dog, Dash. All Mitsi wants is to find her beloved dog again.

I (Brianna) recommend this book for kids in 5th – 6th grade. I remember reading it in the early part of 5th grade as an AR (Accelerated Reader) book. It was amazing!

We hope you look into these books by award-winning author Kirby Larson this summer before the release of Nanea!

 

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7 thoughts on “Waiting for Nanea – Author Kirby Larson

  1. Brenda Savage

    I am going to try and get this book to read to my kids on our camping trip coming up! We took our kids to Manzanar on a trip to Mt. Whitney. It was so very sad, but also so amazing that the Japanese Americans made their ‘prison’ into a lovely garden in the desert. The spirit of community they showed was touching. The Japanese leaders in the camp wanted to show their captors that beauty could rise from adversity.

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    1. Jen Post author

      That’s amazing that you have been there, too! This book was the first new Dear America book in a long while. They sort of relaunched the series. We didn’t have space to write about her other amazing book “Hattie Big Sky” which also touches on the discrimination German Americans faced in WWI. Hattie is a powerful female character much like the AG characters we know so well.

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  2. Laura Beth

    I love the Dear America books! I want to own them all, eventually. There’s another Dear America book about Pearl Harbor called “Early Sunday Morning.” I want to re-read this one now – Thanks for sharing. I have Nanea’s books on my Amazon wish list!

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    1. Jen Post author

      On my AMZ list, too, along with “Patina” and “All’s Faire in Middle School”–all coming out around the same time!

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