Larson, Kirby. Dash.
August 26th 2014
by Scholastic Press
E ARC from Netgalley.com
After the Japanese bomb Pearl Harbor, Mitsi's life in Seattle falls apart. Her friends no longer talk to her, and her family is given a week to report to a relocation camp. They sell or give away many of their belongings, but Mitsi is devastated to learn that she will not be able to take her beloved dog, Dash, with her. No one seems to want Dash, but eventually, a new neigbhor, Mrs. Bowker, agrees to take him in. Once Mitsi arrives in a camp, she must spend her time acclimating herself and her family. Her grandmother finds other older ladies to hang out with, and her parents busy themselves as well, but her brother Ted falls in with a bad crowd of teenaged boys who steal and generally cause trouble. Eventually, the family gets moved to somewhat nicer quarters and settle in, and Mitsi even makes a friend, Debbie. Mrs. Bowker has been sending Mitsi letters from Dash, and after a while, dogs are allowed at the camps, and Mrs. Bowker travels to deliver him.
Strengths: This had a lot of good details about what life was like for Japanese-Americans during this time period, and covers the events leading up to Japanese going into camps as well as events that happen once the family is there. Clearly, Larson has done her research. This also kept me turning the pages even though I've read a number of books on this subject. A good companion book to this author's Duke, and is a good resource if World War II is studied in school.
Weakneses: Mitsi's emotion was tied up more in Dash (and in her brother) rather than in anger at being in a camp. There are quite a few books out there on this topic-- Kadohata's Weedflower, Conkling's Sylvia and Aki, and baseball themed ones from Fitzmaurice and Hughes. Uchida's Journey to Topaz (1971) is still excellent, and based on her personal experiences. For emotional impact, I still think that Julie Otsuka's When the Emperor Was Divine is still the most gut wrenching, especially when it comes to pets. This is certainly a good choice for a fresh title on this topic, although there are others I would buy instead if I had a limited need for books about the Japanese Internment.