Gr 4-6The authors have constructed their text around an actual classroom diary kept by American children of Japanese ancestry, unfairly and unconstitutionally remanded to prison camp during World War II. Selections of entries made by a third-grade class cover the period from March 8 to August 12, 1943. Under each date, the brief accounts are given, followed by extensive, well-researched commentaries explaining the children's allusions, expanding upon the diary text, and placing events in socio-historical perspective. The youngsters reveal a lively interest in the world around them and a patriotic support of the war effort. The commentary details the bleakness and cruelty of their situations and amazing loyalty in light of the injustices heaped upon their families by the U.S. government and their fellow citizens. The well-chosen illustrations consist of fine-quality period photographs, a layout of the camp, and black-and-white reproductions of the children's crayon artwork. The photos are often quite moving and bring home the experiences described in the text. Others have written first-hand accounts of the internment camps, largely reminiscences for children told from an adult perspective. Here readers are exposed to nine-year-olds writing as it happenedand are given a timely reminder for those who say, "It can't happen here." A vital purchase for all collections.John Philbrook, San Francisco Public Library
Interned behind barbed wire in a desert relocation camp in Topaz, Utah, Japanese American teacher Lillian "Anne" Yamauchi Hori kept a classroom diary with her third-grade class from May to August 1943. In simple sentences, she recorded what the children thought important; they took turns illustrating each page. Twenty of the small diary entries appear in this book, together with several black-and-white archival photos of the camps. Tunnell and Chilcoat provide a long historical introduction and then detailed commentary that puts each diary entry in the context of what was happening in the camp and in the country at war. They fill in the cataclysmic events of Americans taken from home to camps in the wilderness, families broken up, the bitter injustice of a mother imprisoned while her son is fighting in Europe. Their commentary is sometimes unfocused, with little of the storytelling power of personal memoirs, such as Yoshiko Uchida's "Journey to Topaz" (1971). Yet the primary sources have a stark authority; it's the very ordinariness of the children's concerns that grabs you as they talk about baseball, school, becoming Scouts and Brownies, etc. For curriculum use and for personal reading, this is a moving account of World War II at home.