J-Lynn's Reviews > A Place Where Sunflowers Grow (砂漠に咲いたひまわり) Japanese/ English Bilingual

A Place Where Sunflowers Grow (砂漠に咲いたひまわり) Japanese/ English ... by Amy Lee-Tai
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's review
Feb 17, 2008

really liked it
bookshelves: asian-kid-and-ya-lit, multicultural-kid-and-ya-lit, picture-books, the-arts-in-kid-and-ya-lit
Recommended for: Elementary Teachers

The pages are split into English words and Japanese characters, organized around simple sepia-toned illustrations. The drawings’ provide the illusion of telling a historical story while simultaneously dulling some of the harsh realities of living in the Topaz Japanese Internment Camp during WWII. This effect is mirrored in the text where the author mentions some of the harsh realities like scary guards with guns and public restrooms with no privacy, but the focus of the story is on finding beauty through art.

The afterword which explains that the story is based on the author’s family history and the illustrations fashioned after art done by the author’s grandmother while in the camp, which adds an element of reality that is missing in the story. The tale of a sad little girl finding happiness through the organized art class in the camp and eventually finding hope in the sunflowers that she planted and doubted would grow is as beautiful as the setting is haunting.

I am so happy that this book helps to introduce a little talked about event in American history, it could easily be used as a starting point for an in depth study of the Japanese internment camps.

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