Yukie’s Island: My Family’s World War II Story

Roaring Brook. Jul. 2023. 48p. Tr $19.99. ISBN 9781250206503.
Gr 3-5–In simple text and pastoral illustrations, this book offers a look at how war affects children. Yukie lives an idyllic life helping her dad maintain the lighthouse and playing with her brother on a tiny island off the coast of Japan. It is 1945 and World War II feels very far away, until the day the bombs start to fall. When Yukie and her family emerge from the bomb shelter, Yukie no longer feels safe or lighthearted. The world around her begins to heal, but it takes a unique miracle for Yukie to feel like the explorer she once was. The text is minimal, with only one or two sentences per page. Oil on canvas filled with bright blues and greens create serene scenes that highlight the carefree and happy life that Yukie has before the bombings. These turn gray and dismal after the bombings to show the main character’s inner turmoil—a jumping-off point for discussion in the classroom. Sheinkin’s author’s note describes how the idea for the book came to be. Kimura’s note provides more detail about his mother, Yukie, and her life in Japan.
VERDICT An accessible and compelling book on a tough topic. Purchase for a unique perspective on World War II.

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