Hello, friends! Our review today is Write To Me: Letters From Japanese American Children To The Librarian They Left Behind, written by Cynthia Grady and illustrated by Amiko Hirao, a moving true story from one of the darkest moments in American history.
Librarian Clara Breed’s young patrons come to turn in their library cards; she provides them stamped postcards in return. “Write to me,” she says, “and tell me where you are.” It’s WWII, and they are being forced into imprisonment by the US government for being of Japanese descent. Through the letters, Clara learns of the children’s lives: sleeping in deplorable conditions in internment camps, suffering extreme weather and limited food. Clara sends them books, school supplies, and always more postcards. She writes newspaper articles of protest and letters to politicians to demand funding and care for the detainees. After three long years, the children and their families are released, with no homes or businesses to return to. But at least, for Clara Breed’s young patrons, they have a loyal friend to see again.
By the fourth page of this book, I was openly sobbing. The tragic and infuriatingly unjust treatment of the Japanese-American detainees is brought to devastating reality by the excerpts from the actual postcards to Clara Breed. Reading the children’s words as they describe their inhumane conditions is heartbreaking, as is their emphatic thanks for the small kindnesses Clara provided. The art is delicate and soft, yet illustrates the bleak, uncertain lives the children led. The length is fine, though this one is best for slightly older bookworms who can understand the weight of the material. Please, read this book. Read it and discuss it with your children. It celebrates a good person we should know, and remembers a shameful event we should never forget. Baby Bookworm approved.
(Note: A copy of this book was provided to The Baby Bookworm by the publisher in exchange for an honest review.)