Faulkner, Matt. Giajin: American Prisoner of War
April 15th 2014 by Disney-Hyperion
Koji Miyamoto and his mother, Adeline, live in San Francisco, but Koji's father is in Japan. When Pearl Harbor is bombed, Koji is on the recieving end of a lot of racial slurs and discrimination, even though he is American born. When his mother is told he will be sent to a relocation camp, she goes with him because he is so young. At the camp, he is bullied because he is not Japanese enough, and the other boys push him around and call his mother a "floozy" for talking to soldiers. He makes friends with Mr. Asai, an older man who is trying to be productive while at the camps, putting in a garden and helping others out. Koji, however, is bound and determined to get into trouble and makes plans on escaping with some other boys after getting involved in their gang, stealing supplies and cigarettes, but luckily is not with them when they are caught by guards.
Strengths: This was a nice twist on the Japanese internment camp story-- it is a fascinating bit of history, but unfortunately most of the books on the topic are much the same. I enjoyed the style of illustrations (this is a graphic novel), and Koji's mixed heritage gives a different perspective to this. The historical notes about the author's family's involvement were interesting, too.
Weaknesses: A lot of violence, with the boys at the camp being idiots, and more of the term "floozy" flung around. These things didn't advance the story, and in fact took up valuable space that I would rather have seen filled with either more historical context, political thoughts, or constructive behavior.
What I really think: Will probably buy, and wonder what it is about the ink that makes some graphic novels smell so bad!
Springstubb, Tricia. Moonpenny Island.
February 10th 2015 by Balzer & Bray/Harperteen
Flor loves living on a small island in Lake Erie. She doesn't mind that in the winter there are about 200 people; she loves the way the island is quiet when the summer visitors are gone. She has always had a very good friend, Sylvie, who was just her age, but when Sylvie's older brother runs into problems, Sylvie's parents send her to the mainland to go to a school there. As the only 6th grader, Flor is lonely, especially when her mother goes to Toledo to take care of her grandmother. Being the only 6th grader isn't much fun, and she's not overly fond of Mrs. Defoe, even though they both like Anne of Avonlea. When she meets Jasper, whose father is studying trilobites on the island, things get a little better. The two have some adventures, but there is overwhelming sadness everywhere in Flor's life. Her parents had been fighting, which is one reason her mother left, and Flor is concerned that her mother is tired of life on the island. Her older sister Cecelia is acting oddly, and Flor doesn't know quite what is wrong, but she's worried that she is losing her, too. Eventually, even Jasper has to leave, and Flor is not quite sure how her life will continue with all of her losses.
Strengths: Absolutely brilliant setting. Having been to Kelley's Island a couple of years ago, I can imagine what the school is like, and the interactions of the various residents are fascinating. The problems that Flor faces are all very realistic and well portrayed, and the book moves along well. Springstubb is an engaging writer.
Weaknesses: The wonderful setting begs to have a FUN summer story instead of all of the sadness. I also found it a little hard to believe that Mrs. Defoe had been assigning Anne of Avonlea for over 40 years. Why start with book two?
What I really think: Will probably pass on buying this for school, even though there is an Ohio link. Just too sad. I almost missed this book, because the cover made me think it was in the Sheila Turnage series!