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Best Friends Forever: A World War II Scrapbook

Best Friends Forever: A World War II Scrapbook

by Beverly Patt, Shula Klinger (Illustrator)

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German-American Louise Kessler, 14, starts a scrapbook when her best friend, Dottie Masuoka, leaves for the Japanese internment camps. Louise’s scrapbook includes items from her life “on the home front” as well as Dottie’s letters and drawings from the internment camp. Together, their intertwined stories tell of a friendship that even war


German-American Louise Kessler, 14, starts a scrapbook when her best friend, Dottie Masuoka, leaves for the Japanese internment camps. Louise’s scrapbook includes items from her life “on the home front” as well as Dottie’s letters and drawings from the internment camp. Together, their intertwined stories tell of a friendship that even war cannot tear apart.

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
This mock scrapbook envisions a WWII correspondence between two 14-year-olds: Dottie, a Japanese-American sent with her family to an internment camp, and her friend, Louise, who vows to document everything that happens in her absence. Louise fills the scrapbook with newspaper clippings, photographs, and diary entries, in addition to the girls’ letters. In one, Dottie describes life in the camp: “Our 'homes’ are all attached in long lines, so we’re like horses in stalls (except horses don’t have to share their stalls)”. Louise visits Dottie, but then she’s relocated and, though they swear to remain friends, Dottie’s future is left open-ended. The girls’ moving stories should inspire readers to learn more about the history of internment. Ages 10-up. (Apr.)
Louise Krueger, 14, is devastated when her beloved best friend, Dottie Masuoka, is suddenly "relocated" with her Japanese American family to an internment camp in Washington State in 1942. Louise keeps a scrapbook with the girls' letters, her own journal entries, small photos, newspaper cuttings, wartime posters, and more. Though the format does look authentic, the handwritten material in different italic scripts can be difficult to read. Still, setting the intense personal story of friends and enemies against the big World War II events is a great way to tell the history. Dottie writes about living in cramped horse stalls with her family, including her grandfather, who is heartbroken that she is behind barbed wire. At school, Louise is attacked as a "Jap-lover" even as her brother enlists in the navy. Patriotism is an underlying theme, and readers will be drawn into the continuing debate about what makes a "real" American. Back matter features notes about true and fictionalized history, along with references and Web sites for suggested research.
VOYA - Kelly Czarnecki
Louise keeps a journal for her best friend, Dottie, who has moved with her family to a relocation camp thirty miles away. Dottie is Japanese, and Louise documents the general climate after the bombing of Pearl Harbor in her scrapbook with photos, newspaper articles, and handbills. The two exchange handwritten letters that Louise records in the book that she hopes to give Dottie one day when she returns to Seattle. Dottie tells Louise what the apartments (otherwise known as horse stalls) are like, and what living with her family, especially her Grumpa, in such close quarters is all about. Louise joins the Junior Red Cross and keeps herself busy collecting supplies for the war effort and taking CPR training. She also takes up knitting and keeps in touch with a wounded soldier for whom she has knitted a pair of socks. Toward the end of the scrapbook, his and Dottie's lives intersect. One hopes that most teen readers are familiar with the internment camps in the U.S. during World War II. Because this novel is written in the form of letters, artwork, and clippings for a scrapbook, readers will be in for a real treat with what feels like a firsthand perspective. Issues such as what does an American look like, racism, poverty, and more are encountered by these two best friends feeling their way through a complicated time. Reviewer: Kelly Czarnecki
Children's Literature - Mary Hynes-Berry
This historical fiction account of life in the USA during WWII has echoes of The Diary of Ann Frank that could lead to a rich discussion of how war can distort daily lives. Beverly Patt has turned her mother's story of a childhood friend whose Japanese family disappeared from their home in Washington State during World War II into a scrapbook type of novel. Patt's mother learned years later that the family had been interned. Patt has vividly recreated a sense of both girls' experience by making a scrapbook of letters written by two fourteen year olds, one from within the camp, the other living with the uncertainties of a world at war. Sketches and period photos help readers visualize both experiences. The perspective is restricted to that of the two girls from April 1942 to January 1943, so the emphasis is on their personal story. Readers are very likely to be moved to find out more about the controversial policy that lead to the Nisei camps in the American West. Reviewer: Mary Hynes-Berry
School Library Journal
Gr 5–9—In this appealing and accessible fictional scrapbook, 14-year-old Louise relates the experience of being separated from her best friend, Dottie, whose Japanese-American family has been relocated to an internment camp following the bombing of Pearl Harbor. Through Louise's journal entries, Dottie's letters, and a variety of authentic-looking newspaper clippings, ticket stubs, and other artifacts, the girls' story emerges powerfully and believably. Readers sense Dottie's distress at her imposed exile, and her anger at being thought un-American. They observe Louise grappling with the injustice of it all, as she is ridiculed for her friendship with Dottie and her own family is targeted because of their German heritage. If the drama of the girls' separation isn't enough, a romantic subplot and the antics of Dottie's goofy dog (living with Louise in her absence) will surely keep young readers interested. This heartwarming tale of steadfast friendship makes a wonderful access point for learning more about World War II and Japanese internment.—Emma Burkhart, Springside School, Philadelphia, PA
Kirkus Reviews
On April 24, 1942, when Dottie Masouka's Japanese-American family lose their rights as American citizens and are removed to an internment camp in Puyallup, Wash., her best friend Louise Krueger starts working on a scrapbook to share with Dottie. Interspersed with her journal account are Dottie's letters to Louise as well as correspondence from Louise's soldier brother and sailor pen pal, newspaper clippings, drawings and pasted-in realia. Each page is antiqued and yellowed, making the whole nine-month record jibe with Patt's use of '40s slang. The youthful voices ring realistically with 14-year-old righteous indignation. Dottie's sketches and optimism reveal her determination to be strong and help her family get by while living in dust-coated stalls and being watched by gun-toting soldiers. Louise is fearful that families with German names like hers will be taken away as well. Their account of wartime terror is made more poignant by their resolution to make their lives beautiful and meaningful. The faux-diary format is sure to appeal. (Fiction. 9-12)

Product Details

Amazon Childrens Publishing
Publication date:
Product dimensions:
7.10(w) x 10.10(h) x 0.50(d)
770L (what's this?)
Age Range:
10 - 14 Years

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