Love in the library

Maggie Tokuda-Hall

Book - 2022

Based on a true story of love and resilience at the Minidoka incarceration camp.

Saved in:

Children's Room Show me where

1 / 2 copies available
Location Call Number   Status
Children's Room jE/Tokudaha Checked In
Children's Room jE/Tokudaha Due Oct 15, 2023
Review by Booklist Review

Tokuda-Hall recounts the moving story of how her grandparents, Tama and George, fell in love at a Japanese incarceration camp in Idaho. Among the 120,000 Japanese Americans forced into incarceration after the bombing of Pearl Harbor, Tama and George managed to find hope amid racism, injustice, and terrible living conditions. While serving as the camp's librarian, Tama would run into George every day as he returned the "stack of books he'd checked out only the day before." Over time, Tama and George grew close because of their shared experiences. They fell in love, married, and had a son, even while surrounded by a place "built to make people feel like they weren't human." As Tama notes in her journal, "The miracle is in us . . . as long as we believe in change, in beauty, in hope." 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. Artwork in mostly earth tones with select pops of color evokes the time period and tone, while meticulous details, including careful use of light and shadow as well as clear facial features, channel the story's compelling message. Tokuda-Hall's author's note discussing her grandparents, Japanese incarceration camps, and the continuing impact of racism caps off this powerful must-read.

From Booklist, Copyright (c) American Library Association. Used with permission. Review by Publisher's Weekly Review

Love blooms in the Idaho desert at the Japanese prison camp called Minidoka in this stirring, compassionate narrative inspired by the experiences of Tokuda-Hall's (Squad) Japanese American maternal grandparents. Employing simple yet evocative language ("Though each camp was different, they were all the same. Uncomfortable and unjust"), the author follows word-loving volunteer librarian Tama as she struggles to name her shifting emotions in the camp, where internees suffer from extreme weather conditions, a lack of privacy--the library window's foremost view of a guard tower offers a constant reminder--and inhumane treatment. "But she could not think of a word that was right. She was scared and sad and confused and frustrated and lonely and hopeful." The constant smiles and companionship of George, the small library's consistent patron, soon prove comforting--and lead to something more. Fluid, dynamic gouache and watercolor illustrations by Imamura (Winged Wonders) spotlight the expressive internees' individualism amid a bleak landscape, immersing readers via era-specific wardrobes and hues. 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." Back matter features a striking author's note that provides further context and draws effective contemporary parallels, plus a photograph of the real-life Tama and George. Ages 6--9. (Jan.)

(c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved Review by School Library Journal Review

Gr 1--4--Based on true events, a gentle story about finding love and hope in a Japanese internment camp. After being relocated to Minidoka, a prison camp in Idaho, Tama takes a job in the camp's library. She loves books and notes that the justice championed in her favorite stories is in stark contrast to her new life of senseless captivity. Enter George. He visits the library every day but never reads a word. He waits patiently for Tama to realize that he loves her. When Tama finally sees what George truly holds "close to his heart," the two are married and soon are a family of three. Tokuda-Hall shares the message that love is a miracle and can grow in the most unlikely of places. She ends the story with her grandmother's own words, "The miracle is in all of us." This lovely, inspiring story unfolds in Imamura's muted art, cushioning the harsh reality of how Japanese Americans were treated during World War II. Young readers may find it hard to relate to the love story of two 20-somethings, finding it easier to connect with this subject matter by reading a story that centers on a child's experience or a beloved sport, as in Yoshiko Uchida's The Bracelet or Marissa Moss's Barbed Wire Baseball. In the back matter, 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." VERDICT This story is important but will require book-talking and story time sharing to find the right audience in a picture book format.--Shannon O'Connor, Unami M.S., Chalfont, PA

(c) Copyright Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted. Review by Horn Book Review

Amid choking dust and surrounded by barbed wire, Tama lives a life made meaningful by words: she is the librarian at Minidoka, a Japanese American internment camp. Tama and her family survive constant worries and fear; unjust conditions (muddy paths to communal latrines, shared single-room housing); and stalled lives and plans. Tama finds solace in the worlds within books, and she has a friend, George, a constant presence in the library with his big voice and smile. Eventually they get married and have a child, making a "miraculous" life together in such a place. 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, symbolized by details such as a vase of sunny flowers and a butterfly. Each individual depicted in the illustrations appears distinct (resisting stereotypes about people of color's supposed resemblance); their experiences are unique as well, as people are shown with their own belongings and varied clothing amidst the common horror of the camp. An appended author's note provides additional background and depth to the story, which was based on the author's grandparents' experiences, and also touches on other populations' struggles with hate and oppression throughout modern history. J. Elizabeth Mills January/February 2022 p.100(c) Copyright 2022. The Horn Book, Inc., a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

(c) Copyright The Horn Book, Inc., a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted. Review by Kirkus Book Review

This story, inspired by the author's grandparents, celebrates love blooming in the desert during a time of extreme duress. In a World War II incarceration camp for Japanese Americans, two young people find respite in one another. In Minidoka, families are crowded together, enduring harsh weather, barbed wire fences, the intimidating scrutiny of White armed guards, and the stress of unjust imprisonment. Book lover Tama finds solace volunteering in the camp library, where she is visited daily by George, a handsome young man with a seemingly insatiable appetite for reading. Tama, who revels in the power of words, struggles to name her overwhelming feelings. George's reassurance that she is only human opens the door to love, marriage, and the birth of their first child in camp, a bubble of happiness in the midst of struggle. The gentle text shows how, no matter how bleak the outlook, people can find ways to hope, dream, and endure. An author's note fills in some background on the real Tama and George Tokuda and connects their story to the many other American communities who experience racism but nevertheless claim joy. Imamura's soft, exquisite illustrations capture the physical locale, using light and shadow in powerful ways. The 1940s setting comes to life with loving care in details of the decor and characters' clothes. An evocative and empowering tribute to human dignity and optimism. (Picture book. 7-10) Copyright (c) Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.

Copyright (c) Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.