Int’l friendship born out of tsunami tragedy


By Lori Dengler and Amya Miller; designed and illustrated by Amy Uyeki (Arcata, Calif.: Humboldt State University Press, 2015, 46 pp., $9.99, paperback)

This is a true story about an unlikely little fishing boat that brought high school students from Rikuzentakata, Japan and Crescent City, Calif. together.

Written in both Japanese and English, this picture book chronicles the voyage of a fishing boat named Kamome (seagull) from Takata High School across the Pacific. Two years after the 2011 tsunami in Japan, the boat washed up near Crescent City. It was covered with footling barnacles that looked like noodles.

People were curious about the boat. They scraped some barnacles off and saw Japanese writing on the side. A Japanese person read the words “Takata High School,” and after some research, it was discovered that the boat came from Rikuzentakata, Japan.

Del Norte High School students decided to clean the barnacles off the boat and see if they could return it to Rikuzentakata. Officials in America and Japan arranged for the boat to be shipped to Japan. The students at Takata High School felt happy to see their boat again, and they were so thankful to the American students for sending the boat back that they invited them to visit Japan.

Four months later the American students did visit, and they learned a little about Japanese food and culture. One illustration shows the teenagers playing volleyball together. When the American students left Japan, they asked their new friends to visit them in Crescent City.

The next year, the Japanese students came to visit Del Norte High School. They learned a little about American food. An illustration shows the teenagers visiting the giant redwoods, circling the trunk of one tree. They saw the beach where Kamome had washed ashore. They laughed and enjoyed their visit in America. They made a pledge to be friends forever.

The boat brought two cities together, and a formal sister school partnership was formed. Amazing but true.

This book is colorfully illustrated and includes a map showing the route of Kamome’s journey from Japan to California. The book includes suggestions about how parents can help young children feel prepared for a disaster such as an earthquake.

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