It's 1942, right after the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbour.
We all know what happened to Americans during WWII.
We all know what happened to the Japanese, too.
But what about the Japanese Americans? What happened to them?
Ten-year-old Manami, her family, and her beloved dog live on Bainbridge Island, Washington. Their home is by the sea, and they live peacefully until one day they are forced to move.
To a prison camp in the California desert.
Nobody would tell her why.
All Manami knows is they have to leave. Those children who look like her have to leave for the prison camp while their classmates (those who don't look like her, those who look pure American) get to stay.
So Manami follows Mother, Father, and Grandfather. She secretly tucks her dog, Yujiin, in her coat. He's family. Surely he has to follow them!
Horror descends when a soldier finds out about Yujiin.
"No dogs!" the soldier says. He points to a crate.
Leaving home is confusing. But Manami can handle that. Separation from Yujiin? It makes dust cloud her throat. She isn't able to speak after that. Not even when she wants to.
The prison camp grows into a prison village. Everyone learns to cope. They eat at the mess hall. Mother gets a job at the canteen. Father works with other men in construction. Ron, Manami's elder brother, comes to join them even though he could have been free "outside."
Only Grandfather seems lost, too. Like Yujiin must be, somewhere out there. Grandfather sits at the room assigned to them and stares out all day.
Manami goes to a newly set up school, but still she doesn't speak. She draws what she observes, she draws what she tries to express. She draws Yujiin. Then she holds the picture up, makes a wish, and lets the wind take the paper promise into the sky.
Every day, I draw Yujiin. Some days it is one picture. Some days it is more.
I know some of you are dog lovers, and I really don't know if I should recommend that you read this. It is certainly very moving. The ending might not be what you're looking for (no tragedy, don't worry) BUT if you're curious about Manami, about whether this little girl gets her lost dog back, or if she eventually gets her lost voice back, and if you're wondering what'll happen to her family when Ron gets arrested, check this book out. It'll be worth it.
Are you a dog lover? Will you be curious (or brave) enough to check this story out?
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Hey, I'm Claudine. Welcome!
Want to know what children's stories can inspire & lead to?
by Kate Hanney
Really enjoyed the honest voice of this narrator ~ a teenager let down by his mother and the foster care system, and almost-picked up through his involvement with a gang.