CM Archive
CM Archive Book Review line

Joy Kogawa. Illustrated by Matt Gould.
Toronto, ON: Oxford University Press, 1986.
82pp., paper, $7.95.
ISBN 0-88894-845-0. CIP.

Subject Heading:
Japanese Canadians-Evacuation and relocation, 1942-1945-Juvenile literature.

Grades 3-6 / Ages 8-11

Reviewed by Fran Newman.

Volume 15 Number 1
1987 January

This is Joy Kowaga's first book for children, and it is a joy. Based on Obasan ¹, it is the story of Naomi, whose Japanese Canadian family is uprooted from Vancouver during the Second World War. Naomi and her brother are sent to an internment camp in the interior of British Columbia and then to a farm in Alberta. The children lose contact with both parents, and it is left to an aunt and uncle to keep the family memories and customs.

Naomi makes a friend while in the camp, the white daughter of a family who live nearby. Their play brought back memories of my own time with friends, and I loved the descriptions. As a matter of fact, I delighted in the whole book. The Japanese way of life is lovingly and effectively described; the setting is made clear and strong each time, and the characters are as delicate as rice paper drawings.

As a teacher, I am amazed by the scope Kogawa leaves for creative thinking. Surely some enterprising person will put together a teacher's guide, but carefully, as carefully as this novel was written. Matt Gould's sketches are stark and often unattractive, marring the softness of the prose. Nevertheless, this book comes very highly recommended. Librarians must buy it for their libraries and teachers should have their own copies to read aloud.

Fran Newman, Murray Centennial P.S., Trenton, ON.

¹ Reviewed vol. X/3 1982, p .162.

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