Love in the Library

Candlewick. Jan. 2022. 40p. Tr $18.99. ISBN 9781536204308.
Gr 1-4–Based on true events, a gentle story about finding love and hope in a Japanese internment camp. After being relocated to Minidoka, a prison camp in Idaho, Tama takes a job in the camp’s library. She loves books and notes that the justice championed in her favorite stories is in stark contrast to her new life of senseless captivity. Enter George. He visits the library every day but never reads a word. He waits patiently for Tama to realize that he loves her. When Tama finally sees what George truly holds “close to his heart,” the two are married and soon are a family of three. Tokuda-Hall shares the message that love is a miracle and can grow in the most unlikely of places. She ends the story with her grandmother’s own words, “The miracle is in all of us.” This lovely, inspiring story unfolds in Imamura’s muted art, cushioning the harsh reality of how Japanese Americans were treated during World War II. Young readers may find it hard to relate to the love story of two 20-somethings, finding it easier to connect with this subject matter by reading a story that centers on a child’s experience or a beloved sport, as in Yoshiko Uchida’s The Bracelet or Marissa Moss’s Barbed Wire Baseball. In the back matter, Tokuda-Hall recounts the true story of how her maternal grandmother and grandfather met in an internment camp in the 1940s and writes a stirring and heartbreaking paragraph about how “[h]ate…is an American tradition.”
VERDICT This story is important but will require book-talking and story time sharing to find the right audience in a picture book format.

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