Counteracting ‘invisibility’ within the JA community

TRANS-PACIFIC JAPANESE AMERICAN STUDIES: CONVERSATIONS ON RACE AND RACIALIZATIONS Edited by Yasuko Takezawa and Gary Y. Okihiro (Honolulu: University of Hawai’i Press, 2016, 448 pp., $35, hardcover) This substantial volume is co-edited by two distinguished Nikkei practitioners of Japanese American studies, one a Japan-based anthropologist, Yasuko Takezawa of Kyoto University, and the other a U.S.-situated […]

How a teacher’s letters helped JA inmates

Write to Me: Letters from Japanese American Children to the Librarian They Left Behind By Cynthia Grady, illustrated by Amiko Hirao. (Watertown, Mass.: Charlesbridge, 2018, 32 pp., $16.99, hardcover) This tenderly illustrated book is a thoroughly researched account of the correspondence via postcards between Clara Breed, a children’s librarian in San Diego, and her enthusiastic […]

The causes and consequences of a government ‘scheme’

THE TANGO WAR: THE STRUGGLE FOR THE HEARTS, MINDS AND RICHES OF LATIN AMERICA DURING WORLD WAR II By Mary Jo McConahay (New York: St Martin’s Press, 2018, 336 pp., $29.99, hardcover) Some Nichi Bei Weekly readers may well wonder why this book by seasoned Latin American journalist Mary Jo McConahay is being reviewed here […]

Classic haiku poems in beautiful dreamscapes

MY FIRST BOOK OF HAIKU POEMS Translated by Esperanza Ramirez-Christensen, illustrated by Tracy Gallup (North Clarendon, Vt.: Tuttle Publishing, 2019, 48 pp., $16.99, hardcover) “My First Book of Haiku Poems” introduces children to classic haiku written by Japanese haiku masters such as Basho, Issa and Shiki. Each poem, lyrically translated by Esperanza Ramirez-Christensen, a professor […]

Scaring versus sharing

Let’s Scare Bear By Yuko Katakawa (New York: Holiday House, 2019, 40 pp., $17.99, hardcover) “Let’s Scare Bear,” based on a classic Japanese rakugo (comic storytelling) tale, is a funny, entertaining story with a surprise ending and an important lesson for young readers. Mouse, Fox, Spider and Snake love manju, a Japanese sweet. The four […]

Sequel leads adoptee from HI to WWII concentration camps in NorCal

By Alan Brennert (New York: St. Martin’s Press, 2019, 320 pp., $27.99, hardcover) Daughter of Moloka‘i First and foremost, writer Alan Brennert is a wonderful world builder. It’s not surprising that he has received a glowing review of his latest novel, “Daughter of Moloka‘i,” from Games of Thrones’ George R. R. Martin. They both are […]

Accidental sleuth

ICED IN PARADISE: A Leilani Santiago Hawai’i Mystery By Naomi Hirahara (Altadena, Calif.: Prospect Park Books, 2019, 216 pp., $16, paperback) Stepping into “Iced in Paradise,” author Naomi Hirahara immediately establishes a local vantage point, from behind the counter of Santiago Shave Ice. When a mainlander asks about Waimea Wonder, her grandmother’s signature combination, lead […]

Unearthing one family’s history

TADAIMA! I AM HOME: A TRANSNATIONAL FAMILY HISTORY By Tom Coffman (Honolulu: University of Hawai‘i Press, 2018, 176 pp., $17.99, paperback) The volume under review, the most recent of many documentary books by award-winning veteran independent researcher, writer, and producer Tom Coffman, characteristically incorporates historical themes pertaining to Hawai‘i. What makes “Tadaima! I Am Home” […]

‘Respectable’ biography on Norman Mineta falls short of potential

Enemy Child: The Story of Norman Mineta, a Boy Imprisoned in a Japanese American Internment Camp During World War II By Andrea Warren (New York: Margaret Ferguson Books/Holiday House, 2019, 224 pp., $22.99, hardcover) When I was in elementary school, I was introduced to the American Revolution through the biography of Johnny Tremain, which may […]

Willow finds her way

PILU OF THE WOODS Written and illustrated by Mai K. Nguyen (Portland, Ore.: Oni Press, 2019, 160 pp., $12.99, paperback) “Pilu of the Woods” is a charming book featuring both a profound message that children will be able to resonate with, and simplistic yet colorful visuals. The plot mostly follows the actions of a girl […]

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