Set in an incarceration camp where the United States cruelly detained Japanese Americans during WWII and based on true events, this moving love story finds hope in heartbreak.
To fall in love is already a gift. But to fall in love in a place like Minidoka, a place built to make people feel like they weren’t human—that was miraculous. After the bombing of Pearl Harbor, Tama is sent to live in a War Relocation Center in the desert. All Japanese Americans from the West Coast—elderly people, children, babies—now live in prison camps like Minidoka. To be who she is has become a crime, it seems, and Tama doesn’t know when or if she will ever leave. Trying not to think of the life she once had, she works in the camp’s tiny library, taking solace in pages bursting with color and light, love and fairness. And she isn’t the only one. George waits each morning by the door, his arms piled with books checked out the day before. As their friendship grows, Tama wonders: Can anyone possibly read so much? Is she the reason George comes to the library every day? Maggie Tokuda-Hall’s beautifully illustrated, elegant love story features a photo of the real Tama and George—the author’s grandparents—along with an afterword and other back matter for readers to learn more about a time in our history that continues to resonate.
About the Author
Maggie Tokuda-Hall is the author of Also an Octopus, illustrated by Benji Davies, and the novel The Mermaid, the Witch, and the Sea. She lives in Oakland, California.
Yas Imamura is the illustrator of The Very Oldest Pear Tree by Nancy I. Sanders, Winged Wonders by Meeg Pincus, and other books for children. She lives in Portland, Oregon.
Love and literature transcend hatred and incarceration in this picture book about the author’s maternal grandmother, who was the librarian at the Japanese internment camp where she met and married her husband. —The New York Times Book Review
The author’s gentle text captures the resilience of human dignity and optimism even during times of immense challenge and adversity. Imamura’s stunning gouache and watercolor illustrations convey both the setting and the emotions of the characters. . . Tokuda-Hall's author’s note discussing her grandparents, Japanese internment camps, and the continuing impact of racism caps off this powerful must-read. —Booklist (starred review)
Simple yet evocative. . . Fluid, dynamic gouache and watercolor illustrations by Imamura (Winged Wonders) spotlight the expressive internees’ individualism amid a bleak landscape, immersing readers. . . Alongside a sensitive introduction to life in Japanese internment camps, this picture book transcends its central romance to encompass love for books, community, and being 'human.' —Publishers Weekly (starred review)
This exquisite picture book, based on the experiences of the author's grandparents, tells a love story for the ages without sugarcoating history. . . . Illustrator Yas Imamura’s soft, muted, earth-tone illustrations work wonders in bringing the characters and setting to life. Her fine, smooth lines gently capture the tenderness that permeates this tale. —BookPage (starred review)
This lovely, inspiring story unfolds in Imamura’s muted art, cushioning the harsh reality of how Japanese Americans were treated during World War II. . . . Tokuda-Hall recounts the true story of how her maternal grandmother and grandfather met in an internment camp in the 1940s and writes a stirring and heartbreaking paragraph about how ‘[h]ate…is an American tradition.’ —School Library Journal (starred review)
The gentle text shows how, no matter how bleak the outlook, people can find ways to hope, dream, and endure. . . . Imamura’s soft, exquisite illustrations capture the physical locale, using light and shadow in powerful ways. . . . An evocative and empowering tribute to human dignity and optimism. —Kirkus Reviews
Full-spread gouache and watercolor illustrations along with smaller vignettes immerse viewers in camp life, depicting its hardships without overwhelming young readers. An earth-toned palette nevertheless remains light and hopeful. —The Horn Book
A revealing exposé of unjust history and an exceptional tribute to love. . . Artist Yas Imamura (The Gravity Tree) uses gouache and watercolor to create remarkable illustrations that haunt, delight and capture the couple's "improbable joy." . . . . Library books and love sustain two young Japanese Americans incarcerated during World War II in Maggie Tokuda-Hall's exceptional picture book homage to her maternal grandparents. —Shelf Awareness
Heartbreaking and heartwarming, this hopeful story shows us that beautiful things can happen even in terrible situations. —Brightly
Based on a true story about author Maggie Tokuda-Hall's grandparents, this story shares the reality of living in an incarceration camp during WWII. —Tinybeans