Place Where Sunflowers Growby Amy Lee-Tai, Felicia Hoshino
Under the harsh summer sun, Mari’s art class has begun. But it’s hard to think of anything to draw in a place where nothing beautiful grows — especially a place like Topaz, the internment camp where Mari’s family and thousands of other Japanese Americans have been sent to live during World War II. Somehow, glimmers of hope begin to surface &… See more details below
Under the harsh summer sun, Mari’s art class has begun. But it’s hard to think of anything to draw in a place where nothing beautiful grows — especially a place like Topaz, the internment camp where Mari’s family and thousands of other Japanese Americans have been sent to live during World War II. Somehow, glimmers of hope begin to surface — in the eyes of a kindly art teacher, in the tender words of Mari’s parents, and in the smile of a new friend. Amy Lee-Tai’s sensitive prose and Felicia Hoshino’s stunning mixed-media images show that hope can survive even the harshest injustice.
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Amy Lee-Tai's award-winner, A Place Where Sunflowers Grow, is a striking departure from typical picture books. Through the story of little Mari, who cannot understand why her family had to leave their home, young readers are given a poignant glimpse of life in a U.S. Japanese American internment camp during World War II. When Mari finds she cannot draw even a single picture in art class, her teacher suggests that she draw something that had made her happy before her family was forced to move to the camp. Reflecting upon the home she had to leave behind, Mari colors a picture of the back yard where she and her brother played on the swing their Papa built, and where the garden was filled with flowers. Sharing her picture with a classmate, Aiko, opens a friendship that blossoms along with the sunflowers Mari planted weeks before. Felicia Hoshino's illustrations are a perfect complement to the story, capturing not only the innocence of childhood, but the harshness of the dreaded camp. Amy Lee-Tai drew upon the experience of her own family in writing A Place Where Sunflowers Grow, sharing with all of us the little known realities of this sad and shameful chapter in American history. For children six and older, this bilingual book should be available in both school and public libraries.
A lovely bilingual picturebook (English/Japanese), A Place Where Sunflowers Grow by Amy Lee-Tai features illustrations from Felicia Hoshino and is the intimate story of a young girl and her life among thousands of other Japanese American families interned by the government during World War II in the Topaz Relocation Center in Utah. Deftly contributing to a historically ill state of America and their world, A Place Where Sunflowers Grow follows Mari through the beginning of her art classes during the heat of the summer, her discovery of life, her newly found passion for art, and the use of her art to cope with the harsh circumstances of her family's confinement. Inspired by the author's personal life and family history, A Place Where Sunflowers Grow is very highly recommended for all young readers ages 6 to 10, as well school and community librarians seeking to augment their bilingual picturebook collections.