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.
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!