Around seventh grade I first heard about the Japanese American internment camp stories because my aunt is Japanese American. But it was not until I was much older that it clicked. My aunt, her siblings, her mother, and my cousins, not to mention her aunts, uncles and cousins would have been incarcerated.
And while I was able to find a little here and there, it was difficult until the last few years to find things that were well done or interesting enough to keep me reading. It is not an easy subject to say the least, or there seems to not be particularly a lot of records. But here and there I find something, and I accidently (but wonderfully) found Love in the Library. This is a snippet of two people’s story (based on the author Maggie Tokuda-Hall’s own grandparents) and how they found love.
To say that it was not “all bad” in the camp of Minidoka (or any camp) is not even a drop in the bucket of the “really bad” that happened. The conditions were horrific, yet to know that something good can come from it, does allow hope.
It is really the illustrations of Yas Imamura that grabbed me. They are not overly colorful, but when color is important, it comes to life on the page. The details are not simple, but not overly expansive. They have a cozy in between to them that makes you almost forget what is happening. The story is poetic in many ways and the art reflects that.
Overall, this is an experience book. I am not sure it works well as a one-on-one read but a group setting such as a classroom would work. The ages would be for older kids, even first to third grade, even though it is a picture book. It has many levels of interests (history, family, Asian peoples) that it covers. The afterwards adds a personal touch as we learn more of the story that inspired this chapter in the lives of two determined people.