Desert Diary: Japanese American Kids Behind Barbed Wire

Charlesbridge. Oct. 2020. 144p. Tr $19.99. ISBN 9781580897891.
Gr 4-7–This nonfiction resource spotlights the experiences of families of Japanese ancestry imprisoned at Topaz Camp, in Utah, during World War II. Miss Yamauchi, a teacher at Mountain View School, and her third grade students discussed what was happening at school and at home. She would write a summary of their experiences on a new page in their class daily diary. Students would take turns illustrating a page with pencil and crayon drawings. These pages provide a window into the children’s perspectives and emotions during this dark event in American history. Eleven chapters focus on various aspects of the students’ daily life. Color pages from the diary and numerous black-and-white historic photographs complement the text. An epilogue, an author’s note, a glossary, an editor’s note on terminology, a note on the photos, photo credits, source notes, a selected bibliography, and an index are included. In her editor’s note, Alyssa Mito Pusey, a fourth-generation Japanese American, explains how she and the author worked carefully together to make thoughtful word choices regarding the use of terms such as internment or internment camp.
VERDICT This well-researched primary source provides a close look at the daily lives of Japanese American children and their families who were forced out of their homes during World War II. An illuminating addition to all library shelves that challenges readers to think about how people can learn from history and its reverberations.

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