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Take What You Can Carry
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Take What You Can Carry

3.18  ·  Rating details ·  366 Ratings  ·  85 Reviews

In 1977 suburban Chicago, Kyle runs wild with his friends and learns to shoplift from the local convenience store. In 1941 Berkeley, the Himitsu family is forced to leave their home for a Japanese-American internment camp, and their teenage son must decide how to deal with his new life. But though these boys are growing up in wildly different places and times, their lives
176 pages
Published March 13th 2012 by Square Fish
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Dec 19, 2012 rated it liked it

”It’s weird with some stuff. Or moments, really. Even though they are entirely under your control…they somehow aren’t. It feels like once you start…there’s only one way things can go. Even if it’s the wrong way.”

Take What You Can Carry is a stunning work of art connecting two lives through time and history. A reading experience with emotional and visual power.

The action and timeline flashes back in forth between 1942 in a Japanese-American internment camp in California and a 1978 Chicago suburb.
Sep 30, 2014 rated it did not like it
The modern day story with the white boy was pointless. How can any storyteller ever draw a comparison between someone stealing to survive versus someone stealing for kicks and giggles? The false equivalency here is astounding and even a little bit insulting to the audience. I get the point the author was trying to make, but it came off as yet another story where the little white kid learns a valuable lesson from the wise old Japanese man. Barf.

Would have been a MUCH better book if it was all abo
I feel uncomfortable with the author's ease at drawing parallels between Japanese Internment in the 1940s and a punk-ass kid who shoplifts in 1978. Not comparable. (Also, a very good reason I don't work with middle & high schoolers. I don't have the patience.) And I don't really understand why the author chose the segments set in the 1940s featuring Japanese-Americans to be wordless. Japanese people can speak.
Ok, I don't know if this is a spoiler, so I'm putting things behind curtains... I think this book is about (view spoiler).

It tells the stories of two teenage boys - one of Japanese descent living in WWII California, one of apparently Caucasian descent living in an anonymous suburb. (view spoiler)
I'm a sucker for graphic novels. When I learned that TAKE WHAT YOU CAN CARRY was a graphic novel about the historic Japanese internment, I immediately purchased it. I thought of how I could pair it with FAREWELL TO MANZANAR or use it as an introduction to such an unfathomable period of American history.

The novel focuses on two strands, as suggested by the cover: (1) the life of a Japanese family forced to move into the Manzanar camp as depicted in brown illustrations and NO
Ashley D--
Mar 02, 2013 rated it liked it
I'm waffling between 2 and 3 stars for this one. I thought it was just okay, but I liked its ambition and its subject matter a lot, so I'm giving it 3.

I like the tenuous connection between the two characters. There is very little that is similar between them, but being a teen who committed random acts of destruction for no apparent reason helped me identify with Kyle and see how he might feel similarly desperate and anti-authoritarian as Ken, despite his extremely more privileged situation. They
Emilia P
May 13, 2012 rated it liked it
Shelves: comic-books
Eh. Drawn in an interestingly nice, shaky Mike Judge-y style, with a similar tone/setting, though less lush and humorous. Character development is less than complete -- "oh, I'm a kid that steals stuff... cuz I just get bored," but the wordlessness of the Japanese internment camp story was actually pretty effective -- the smallness of one kid in a big world, and the importance too, communicated through people bustling and scrambling through crowded and empty spots alike. In the end though, and p ...more
Feb 17, 2014 rated it really liked it
Shelves: 8th-grade
This book had an interesting format in which it juxtapose a person's life story and childhood to another persons present life in his childhood. The book periodically switched back and forth between the persons life. It showed how adequately fun the modern child's life was compared to the other child's (on the left of the cover) life was. It showed me how much we take for granted, while people around us struggle to survive every day. It may be an easy and quick read, but it is filled with differe ...more
Apr 02, 2012 rated it liked it
This is a pretty fast read since it is not heavy on the text. It basically tells two parallel tales: the first being the Japanese internment camps after the attack on Pearl Harbor and the second of a boy who stole thing from a shop due to boredom. The internment side of the story is pretty powerful for the lack of words depicted. I thought it was pretty interesting because you could see parallels in both tales.

Disclaimer: I won this in a Goodreads Firstreads giveaway.
Sep 20, 2017 rated it liked it
I liked this book. Sometimes it was hard to keep track of what was happening, because there was 2 stories going on at once. I would recommend this book if you want a graphic novel that is challenging.
Sep 29, 2017 rated it really liked it
A great way to get kids thinking about how history impacts us today. Simple but powerful illustrations.
Matthew Metzdorf
Oct 02, 2017 rated it did not like it
what is this book even about
Apr 05, 2013 rated it really liked it
It was the title this time and not the cover itself that caught my eye. Reminiscent of Only What We Could Carry (a book everyone should read) my hand went to pick it up without even really thinking about it. As I suspected it did deal with the internment of Japanese Americans, but with a bit of a twist.

The book flips back and forth from a 1978 Chicago suburb and 1941-1944 California. In 1978 we follow Kyle in bright white & blues. In the 40's Ken is awash in dark browns and silence. There ar
What were we comparing here; I had to wonder as I read this graphic novel. It wasn’t until the final pages did I finally see the connection as these two stories were running simultaneously throughout the novel. I was grasping for how they could be related, how a story from an internment camp in 1942 could be linked to the Chicago suburbs of 1978. How a boy who seemed to be taking in his surrounding so quietly, trying to survive and make the best of his situation could be compared to two punk-ass ...more
I guess you could call this a quick read, since half of the book, the historic Japanese-American perspective, is told without words. So there really isn't much to read in here. I was excited to read this when I saw it at the library, because I don't know enough about this very shameful part of American history. But I found the juxtaposition of 1940s wordless Japanese-American suffering with 1970s bratty white teen story jarring. I wasn't crazy about the art either--what was depicted historically ...more
"Take What You Can Carry" is a graphic novel that explores connections between generations and across races. In 1941 Berkely, the Himitsu family is forced to leave their home for a Japanese-American internment camp, taking only what they can carry. The Himitsu's teenaged son must deal with displacement, the loss of rights, and camp life, where he learns to steal. In 1977 suburban Chicago, Kyle is the new kid in the neighborhood. Displaced and bored, Kyle runs wild. Egged on by his new "friends," ...more
Anastasia Tuckness
This book was amazing. It weaves together 2 stories: 1 of a Japanese boy/teen who is forced into an internment camp during WWII, and 1 of a modern day teen who ends up working for the Japanese man.

I don't remember all the details, but the graphic aspect creates a powerful depiction of what Japanese Americans faced during WWII. There is no romanticizing here.

Showing the man trying to make a living in a modern-day setting brings it home even more--these were real people that the government (our g
Diane Ferbrache
Jul 09, 2012 rated it liked it
Shelves: washyarg
This graphic novel tells the story of two boys living in two different eras. The stories are illustrated in different colors – blue for 1978 Chicago and brown for the 1940s California. Three boys have been arrested and held for a crime spree that gradually escalates to their arrest for shoplifting from a small grocery store. In the 1940s storyline we see the story of a Japanese family being forced out of their home, and the teenaged boys whose mischief gets them in trouble with the guards.
Feb 22, 2013 rated it really liked it
This graphic novel alternates between the parallel stories of two young boys from two different time periods. The first is Ken Himitsu’s story whose family was forced into a Japanese relocation camp in Berkley in 1941 after the attack on Pearl Harbor. Ken’s story is completely wordless and portrayed in sepia brown tones with a brushed appearance. Kyle’s story is set in a Chicago suburb in 1978. The pages depicting his story are in blue with narrative. The two stories intersect when Kyle tries to ...more
Jan 30, 2017 rated it it was ok
Shelves: graphic-novel
I'm not sure if I should put this on my "history" bookshelf or not.

There are two stories here. The first about a Japanese-American kid interned in WWII. The second about a white juvenile delinquent in the late 70s. There appears to be no connection at first, but the two stories eventually interconnect. As a piece of fiction I felt the story of Kyle in the 70s was unnecessary to tell the far more important story of Mr. Himitsu's childhood. The result asks for the two stories to be equated someho
Sep 11, 2011 rated it really liked it
This graphic novel explores connections between generations and across races, in an innovative way. It is the story of two teenage boys. One is a Japanese American who is sent to the internment camps during World War II. His part of the story shows the displacement of his family, the loss of their rights, and the realities of the camps. In alternating chapters, we also get the modern story of a teenage boy who moves to a new community and gets in with the wrong group of boys. Soon he is robbing ...more
Penny Peck
Nov 10, 2013 rated it liked it
Shelves: children-ya
This teen graphic novel tells two stories: a contemporary Caucasian boy is caught shoplifting and must do cleanup at the store to make up for it, and another teenager struggles with being in an Assembly Center and Relocation Camp for Japanese-Americans during WWII. The stories don't really mesh well; the contemporary story shows a kid who is really just a brat, while the WWII story tells a more dramatic true story. They are not parallels, even though they are both teen boys. The artwork is excel ...more
Apr 07, 2013 rated it liked it
I give it a 3 1/2. The title and cover caught my attention immediately and the description in the back confirmed my: yea this is going to be good. And it was, however it wasn't what I had expected and initially it was a bit of a downer but as I kept reading I realized I was glad it wasn't what I had thought it was and perhaps that made it better. The sepia toned illustrations, specifically of the mountain terrain and landscape are beautiful. It's a quick read and if you happen to have an hour or ...more
Ms. P
Mar 18, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Kevin Pyle deals with time in an interesting way through his illustrations. To show scenes from the shop-owner's past experience with Japanese internment in the early 1940s, he uses a slightly fuzzy sepia-toned style without dialogue, like old photographs. To show scenes from the boy's recent past, he uses a light blue tone, and he focuses on select people and objects, as if seeing the event from the boy's memory. And to show what is happening right now, his illustrations are still blue, but the ...more
Ariel Caldwell
Dec 07, 2015 rated it really liked it
At first, I didn't see how the two stories would come together: the story of (Ken) and his family in the Japanese internment camps of 1940s West Coast USA, done in sepia tones, and the 1970s story of Kyle, who's moved to a new neighbourhood and just goes too far with daredevilry and stealing, done in blues.

Both stories are evocatively drawn - Ken's story is wordless, stark and expressive. Kyle's story is almost cartoonish, and touches on the point at which teen boys might make a bad choice that
Eric Piotrowski
This book merges an older man's memories of life in a Japanese internment camp with the exhausting ennui of a bored teenager and his foray into shoplifting. Except for a somewhat clever title, however, the overlap in that venn diagram doesn't cover much -- and it really doesn't make for a very compelling story. Wait, I take that back: The bit about the internment camp is well-told, done as it is with almost no dialogue. The slacker kid is just plain banal (yeah, it's really out of his control wh ...more
Aug 26, 2012 rated it really liked it
Most readers consider graphic novels to be a visual medium, but more and more, it is becoming a place for writers too. Pyle is one of the best writers of everyday troubled teens in graphic novels today. He is not afraid to use silence or to tell a tale in very few words. His artwork is simple and raw, but to me they work because of the writing. This is a beautifully simple but very poignant tale of two generations worlds apart but with something in common: humanity. Check this out plus his other ...more
The two connected stories felt very disconnected from one another, to me. Looked at separately, I liked the quiet realizations of the boy in the present day, but the sepia toned story following the experiences of a Japanese-American boy and his family in the internment camps was much more compelling, if jarringly wordless when mixed with the present day story. I think these two halves would have meshed a little better with more parallels; as it is, it feels as if they barely intersect one anothe ...more
Dec 20, 2014 rated it liked it
Shelves: jf-ya, graphic-novels
I don't like being critical in reviews. There was much to admire here. But some of the flaws made them harder to see. I wish the history on the back of the book had been offered first, Without the words in the WWII portion of the book, I had a hard time really understanding what the author/artist was trying to convey until the end of the book. I am not sure younger readers, and apparently many adults, are going to make the connection between the modern story and the WWII story. It is thought-pro ...more
Laura Beebz
Mar 26, 2015 rated it liked it
The premise was great, the landscapes were beautiful, and it was interesting to see when the author would choose to let the silent images speak for themselves.
There were times when the art wasn't clear enough to understand what the characters' motivations were, unless they were allowed to explain it. People were not as clear and iconic as landscapes, and this led to a few confusing panels. Maybe I had my hopes too high for this piece, but I feel the connection between the two stories could have
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