A classroom favorite and must-have for families


Hello Maggie! Revised 2nd Edition

By Shigeru Yabu, illustrated by Willie Ito (Camarillo, Calif.: Yabitoon Books, 2021, 42 pp., $19.95, paperback)

“Hello Maggie!” is the true childhood story of author Shig Yabu and his best friend, a magpie named Maggie. It is also a chronicle of Shig and his family’s forced removal from their life in San Francisco to their incarceration in Heart Mountain, Wyo. during World War II.

Shig’s life in San Francisco is happy. His parents are busy with their dry cleaning shop while he keeps busy playing with his pets. With the bombing of Pearl Harbor, Shig’s life changes. He is forced to leave his home, his pets and his school. “It was hard to say goodbye, especially when I saw my teacher crying.”

In ”the camp,” Shig adjusts to life with barbed wire fences, guard towers, barracks and school with new friends. One day, he and his friends decide to sneak out of camp. It is on this adventure that they knock down a nest and meet Maggie, a magpie hatchling. Shig brings Maggie back to camp and raises her. While Maggie and Shig become best friends, Maggie also becomes friends with many folks in camp, entertaining them with her whistling and talking.

Willie Ito’s engaging illustrations highlight Maggie’s larger-than-life personality and her bond with Shig. On the front cover, Shig and Maggie gaze at each other affectionately. In another scene, Shig is pretending to be a pirate and Maggie is perched on his shoulder like a parrot. You can tell they are kindred spirits.

Ito’s artistry also captures the feelings of other characters. When Shig has to leave behind his German Shepherd, his turtle, his canary and his goldfish, you can see the pain not only on Shig’s face but also on the faces of his pets. In the section about the 442nd Regimental Combat Team and 100th Battalion, the illustrations are done in black, white and gray to convey the seriousness of the situation. The expressions of the men also show the grave nature of war. When the camp sirens blare to announce the end of the war, Shig and his friends’ faces express utter joy.

In the newly published second edition, Shigeru Yabu and Willie Ito have added new text and illustrations to teach readers about the 442nd Regimental Combat Team, the 100th Battalion, and the Military Intelligence Service. While the content is important and valuable,

I think it disrupts the flow of Maggie’s story and might be better placed at the end of the book with the glossary.

“Hello Maggie!” is a wonderful story to introduce the incarceration of Japanese Americans to young children and develop a child’s social awareness and empathy. During these polarizing times, it’s essential that we help our young children connect with other perspectives and experiences. Each kindergarten class I have read this to has been captivated by Maggie and Shig’s friendship. They identify with Shig, putting themselves in his shoes. They realize that what happened to Shig and other Japanese Americans was unfair. In their words,

“Japanese Americans didn’t have civil rights in the barbed wire camps.” I have read the first edition to my students for years. As soon as we finish the book, they ask me to read it again. It is a beloved book at our school and it will be an old favorite in your school or family, too!

Just a note that Yabu and Ito are collaborating on an animated short of “Hello Maggie!” I look forward to seeing Maggie and Shig come to life onscreen.

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