In the early 1940's, Clara Breed was the children's librarian at the San Diego Public Library. But she was also friend to dozens of Japanese American children and teens when war broke out in December of 1941. The story of what happened to these American citizens is movingly told through letters that her young friends wrote to Miss Breed during their internment. This remarkable librarian and humanitarian served as a lifeline to these imprisoned young people, and was brave enough to speak out against a shameful ...
In the early 1940's, Clara Breed was the children's librarian at the San Diego Public Library. But she was also friend to dozens of Japanese American children and teens when war broke out in December of 1941. The story of what happened to these American citizens is movingly told through letters that her young friends wrote to Miss Breed during their internment. This remarkable librarian and humanitarian served as a lifeline to these imprisoned young people, and was brave enough to speak out against a shameful chapter in American history.
Americans with Japanese ancestry were rounded up and sent to Relocation Camps from March through October of 1942. The United States government said it was for their protection. Later, they were sent from the relocation camps to internment camps; in reality, these camps were "concentration camps." The book contains letters San Diego teens incarcerated during the war wrote to Miss Breed, a librarian in San Diego. Miss Breed, who kept in touch with her "children" by writing letters, sending books and packages to those interned, kept all of the letters she received. Those letters were reprinted in the book with the original spelling and grammar as the teens wrote to her. Use Dear Miss Breed with World War II units about life in the United States during World War II or as part of a racial discrimination unit. While middle school students will under-stand what happened during World War II, this title will be of more interest to high school students.
In his last year, this reviewer's father, a Pearl Harbor vet, spent time in a daycare program for dementia victims. Routinely he would return home to recount stories of a fellow daycare resident, a Japanese American woman who had spent time at Manzanar. Her memories are unforgettable, much like the letters and interviews in veteran author Oppenheim's nonfiction recounting relationships between a special librarian and her incarcerated young readers. Clara E. Breed, children's librarian for the San Diego Public Library, celebrated all young readers, and her commitment did not end when Japanese families in the area were torn from their homes and lives following December 7, 1941. Oppenheim collects scores of communications back and forth between Breed and her readers, making inferences, interpreting contexts insightfully. Notes reveal gifts Breed that sent students, along with shopping lists they sent her with money orders. Anger, bitterness, and sadness fill correspondence from older students, aware of injustices forced upon them. Younger readers adapted more readily to conditions at various camps. The volume includes historical sidebars, photographs of letter writers (as children and adults), and rare internment camp pictures. Although some nonfiction written for students is superficial, assuming research versus evidencing it, this book is thoroughly, clearly documented, including chapter notes, acknowledgments, and bibliography. Additional highlights include follow-up on the children and a reunion gathering. Fortunate social studies students will find themselves immersed in this engaging and poignant personal history, demonstrating that a single person can, indeed, make a significantdifference in the lives of many. Memorable? Absolutely. VOYA CODES: 5Q 3P M J S (Hard to imagine it being any better written; Will appeal with pushing; Middle School, defined as grades 6 to 8; Junior High, defined as grades 7 to 9; Senior High, defined as grades 10 to 12). 2006, Scholastic, 288p.; Index. Illus. Photos. Maps. Biblio. Notes. Appendix., Ages 11 to 18.
—Patti Sylvester Spencer
School Library Journal
Gr 6 Up-Through letters and recollections, Oppenheim relates the story of a group of young people who were interned during World War II. Breed had come to know many Japanese Americans through her work as the children's librarian at the San Diego Public Library. When the young people were sent to camps in 1942, she began sending letters and care packages of books, candy, and other treats to "her children." She also wrote articles for Library Journal and The Horn Book that articulated their plight. In return, the recipients expressed their gratitude in letters. While their lives were marked by deprivation and uncertainty, their letters reveal an unquenchable optimism. Their story, along with that of Miss Breed, is both remarkable and inspiring, and Oppenheim has done a fine job of assembling these poignant eyewitness accounts. Unfortunately, she muddles her assessment, ladling on a variety of unnecessary details and her own anecdotal experiences. There's a lack of clarity and focus, and though this is a welcome addition to this topic, its appeal will be limited to those familiar with it. Readers seeking a concise, overall perspective would fare better with Michael L. Cooper's Fighting for Honor: Japanese Americans and World War II (2000) and Remembering Manzanar: Life In a Japanese Relocation Camp (2002, both Clarion).-Marilyn Taniguchi, Beverly Hills Public Library, CA Copyright 2006 Reed Business Information.
Looking back to a shameful but characteristic chapter in this country's history, Oppenheim wraps an angry account of the U.S. West Coast Japanese-American population's forced removal in the panic following Pearl Harbor around a heartfelt tribute to Clara Breed, a San Diego children's librarian who kept in touch with several of her evacuated young "regulars" and became an advocate for their release. The text is sometimes repetitive or overstuffed with minor details, but-supported by frequent excerpts from letters, passages (pointedly labeled "Testimony") from the 1981 reparation hearings and lines from the author's own interviews with survivors-it not only creates a scathing picture of the living conditions those children and their families were forced to endure, but also bears eloquent witness to their deeply rooted patriotism and unshakable determination to make the best of things, come what may. Supplemented by a range of period commentary and illustrated with rare snapshots, this is rich in primary material and also bears unmistakable relevance in this post-9/11 atmosphere. (bibliography, notes) (Nonfiction. 11+)