Children’s Fiction

Japanese American Resource Library


Baseball Saved Us, Ken Mochizuki (1993)
Surrounded by guards, fences, and desert, Japanese Americans in an internment camp create a baseball field. A young boy tells how baseball gave them a purpose while enduring injustice and humiliation.

Blue Jay in the Desert, Marlene Shigekawa and Isao Kikuchi (1993)
Author Marlene Shigekawa and illustrator Isao Kikuchi were among those American citizens who were denied their basic civil rights and interned for no reason other than their Japanese heritage. Blue Jay in the Desert is the story of young Junior’s view of the internment, its effect upon his family and his grandfather’s message of hope.

The Bracelet, Yoshiko Uchida and J. Yardley (1993)
Emi and her family are forced to leave their home and friends to live in an internment camp. Emi’s best friend Laurie gives her a bracelet to remember her by, but Emi loses it. A story of the wartime refugee experience and what we carry in our hearts.

Heroes, Ken Mochizuki (1995)
Donnie is tired of playing the bad guy every time he and his friends get together to play war. According to the other kids, Donnie should play the enemy–after all, as a Japanese American, he looks like “them.” When he argues that his family served in the US Army, Donnie’s friends dare him to prove it. But when he asks his father and uncle for proof, they tell him that kids should play something else besides war. “Real heroes don’t brag,” Uncle Yosh says. “They just do what they are supposed to do.” Set against the backdrop of the 1960s, and a new conflict in Vietnam, this story explores how one family deals with the painful legacy of war.

Journey Home, Yoshiko Uchida (1978)
WWII is raging. Yuki and her Japanese-American family are forced from their home in California and imprisoned in a US concentration camp called Topaz. After months of unbearable life in Topaz, Yuki and her family are finally released. They are free, but are left with nothing. With nowhere to go, and no money to get there, the road to rebuilding their lives seems endless. In the end, it is their unyielding faith and courage that guide them home, reunited and hopeful. Journey Home is an extraordinary store of one family’s struggle to survive one of the most tragic episodes in US history.

Journey to Topaz, Yoshiko Uchida (1985)
Like any 11-year-old, Yuki Sakane is looking forward to Christmas when her peaceful world is suddenly shattered by the bombing of Pearl Harbor. Her father is taken by the FBI; she, her mother and older brother, Ken, are uprooted
from their home and shipped with thousands of West Coast Japanese Americans to the horse stalls of Tanforan Racetrack and then to the bleak desert concentration camp called Topaz. There Yuki and her new friends, Emi and her grandparents, face terrifying dust storms, new hardships and finally a terrible tragedy that rocks the entire camp. Disillusioned, Ken must make a heart-wrenching decision, and Yuki faces another painful separation from her best friend as well as her brother.

Naomi’s Road, Joy Kogawa (1995)
The story of Naomi Nakane–a little girl with “black hair and lovely Japanese eyes and a face like a valentine”–and her Japanese-Canadian family during the 1940s, when Canada was at war with Japan. We follow Naomi and her older brother Stephen from their home in Vancouver to an internment camp in the interior of British Columbia, and then to a farm in Alberta, seeing the effect of war through the eyes of a child growing up with hardship and prejudice. Yet Naomi’s adventures lead her to see the world with hope and understanding.

Puppe’s Story, Hiroki Sugihara (1996)
A five-year old child’s remembrance of his father’s remarkable rescue of 6,000 Jewish refugees during the Holocaust. Based on a true story.

Thanksgiving at Obaachan’s, Janet Mitsui Brown (1994)
A Japanese American girl describes the Thanksgiving celebration at her grandmother’s house and the things that make it her favorite holiday.

The Moved-Outers, Florence C. Means (1972)
Sue (Sumiko) Ohara is bright and popular, enjoying her uncomplicated high school life along with countless other California teenagers during the fall of 1941. All this changes on the eve of the bombing of Pearl Harbor. Overnight, she and her family and other Japanese Americans become targets for the nation’s racial anxieties and misguided patriotism. The Ohara family is uprooted and moved into detainment camps, where they live under demoralizing conditions for the duration of the war. The Moved-Outers is the story of their struggle to retain their dignity and identity as Americans while they make the best of new surroundings.