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Booktalking "Weedflower" by Cynthia Kadohata

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Sumiko is a 12-year-old Japanese girl living in California in the 1940s. Unfortunately for her, Pearl Harbor has an especially negative impact on her life, due simply to her racial background. The government sends her and her family to a permanent relocation camp in Poston, Arizona; its official nomenclature is the Colorado River Relocation Center. The filth and overcrowded conditions in the camps are deplorable.

Life before Pearl Harbor in California was pleasant for the family. Tak-Tak had his favorite horse Baba, and Sumiko enjoyed flower farming. Her family produced flowers such as carnations and weedflowers on farms to be sold in flower shops. Sumiko loves gardening and flowers. Alternately, there are a lot of snakes in Poston, and the locals eat them. Not my idea of a tasty dinner.

Sumiko is forced to rethink the aspects of her culture that might offend the American government. Is wearing a Kimono anti-American? If only people would stop derisively referring to anything and everything Japanese as "Jap," as though it were irrevocably tainted. When looking for a new home for a "Jap" dog, she had to contemplate if anyone would want a dog who was formerly cared for by Japanese people. Governmental fear run amok.

Weedflower by Cynthia Kadohata, 2006

I love revisiting historical events that may have been touched upon briefly in the history books I read while I was attending school. The fictionalized accounts give me a much better feel for how these events affected actual people's lives. Racism is an evil thing that people need to avoid. Having a few Japanese partake in a certain act should not sully the entire race in anyone's eyes.

This Post Filed Under: Miranda J. McDermott (Author) Children's Literature @ NYPL (Channel) Grand Concourse Library Related Blog Topics Children's Literature

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