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Shizuye Takashima.
Montréal, PQ: Tundra Books, 1989.
102pp., paper, $7.95.
ISBN 0-48776-241-7. CIP.

Subject Headings:
Japanese Canadians-Evacuation and relocation, 1942-1945.
World War, 1939-1945-Evacuation of civilians.
Concentration camps-British Columbia-New Denver-Juvenile literature.

Grades 5 and up / Ages 10 and up

Reviewed by Maryleah Otto.

Volume 18 Number 3
1990 May

A Child in Prison Camp first appeared in 1971 as a picture-book. Since then it has won numerous awards for literary and artistic merit. The story is based on the author's personal experiences as an internee in a remote British Columbia settlement, where she lived with her family from 1942 to 1945, prisoners of the Canadian government. Their only crime was that they were of Japanese descent. Canada's treatment of its own citizens was, of course, a hysterical overreaction to the war in the Pacific but because of this act, 22,000 Japanese Canadians were robbed of their worldly goods, separated from family members, and packed off to concentration camps.

Shizuye Takashima, who was eleven years old when she entered the camp, tells her story in the first person and always in the immediacy of the present tense. She and her older sister Yuki and their parents were transported by train from Vancouver to New Denver, a tiny community in the magnificent Yellowhead region, while her eighteen-year-old brother David was sent to Ontario.

Like the diary of Anne Frank, the slice of life described here is expressed through the feelings of a young girl barely out of childhood. And perhaps because of that, there is a beautiful innocence, an ability to seize the magic of the moment, a sense of the joy of simply being alive, that are a testimony to the strength of the human spirit.

This edition contains over one hundred pages of text but just eight small reproductions of the original paintings. It is ideal for grade 5 and up, while the original larger format is a treasure for kindergarten to grade 4.

Maryleah Otto, St. Thomas Public Library, St. Thomas, ON.
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