For two boys in a Japanese American family, everything changed when Japan bombed Pearl Harbor and the United States went to war.
With the family forced to leave their home and go to an internment camp, Jimmy loses his appetite. Older brother Taro takes matters into his own hands and, night after night, sneaks out of the camp and catches fresh fish for Jimmy to help make him strong again.
This affecting tale of courage and love is an adaptation of the author's true family story, and includes a letter to readers with more information about the historical background and inspiration.
After Pearl Harbor, the U.S. government imprisons Jimmy, his brother, and his Japanese-American parents in an internment camp. Without the fresh food he loves, Jimmy stops eating. Illustrator Yamasaki (Honda: The Boy Who Dreamed of Cars), in her authorial debut, draws from her own ancestral history as she describes the family's difficulties, yet she resists dropping hints about what's to come, making the unfolding of older brother Taro's plan a genuine surprise: "Quiet as a breeze, Taro wrapped the shears he had secretly borrowed from the camp garden in his mother's scarf." Once Taro has successfully cut through the camp's barbed-wire fence, he makes his way through unfamiliar woods in the dark to a stream, where he catches fish for Jimmy. "Mother laughed as Jimmy ate at last. Taro had forgotten the sound of his mother's laugh, and it was beautiful." Only the artwork falters; the uncertain perspective and muddy contours of the figures can make the magical-realist elements of Yamasaki's paintings difficult to parse. Although memoirs of politically sensitive times are often subdued, this one is unexpectedly suspenseful. Ages 6-10. (Apr.)Copyright 2013 Publishers Weekly, LLC Used with permission.
Gr 1-3--Following the bombing of Pearl Harbor, Taro's father is taken away for questioning by the FBI, and Taro, his younger brother, and their mother are transported to an internment camp. Jimmy refuses to eat and becomes withdrawn and listless. Taro finds a way to slip outside the camp fences to obtain fresh fish to entice his brother to eat. While the story is moving, it is the acrylic illustrations that are exceptional. The style has a primitive quality, with expressive facial details and body positioning. Yamasaki combines representational and abstract elements in her images. Children will be intrigued immediately by the cover. Taro is picking up fish that have small human figures sleeping on them. Readers soon discover that the figure is Jimmy. By combining what the characters are doing with what they are thinking, the illustrations invite viewers into a deeper level of connection with the story. Space and scale also are used imaginatively. The scene in which Taro leaves the camp is shown as a spread. His movement is demonstrated by four small images of him running, avoiding spotlights and guards. A larger Taro cutting a hole in the fence is the focal point of the painting. Another scene in which Taro is considering how to help Jimmy provides the visual clue of "fish" in an intriguing manner. Although the story is appropriate for a slightly younger audience than Ken Mochizuki's Baseball Saved Us (Lee & Low, 1993) and Eve Bunting's So Far from the Sea (Clarion, 1998), the sophisticated visual images have cross-generational appeal. This book would be appreciated by young children, middle school students learning more about internment camps, and anyone interested in how art can explore emotion.--Lucinda Snyder Whitehurst, St. Christopher's School, Richmond, VACopyright 2013 School Library Journal, LLC Used with permission.