Based on a true story of events during World War II in Los Angeles China City, a 12-year-old Chinese American girl named Mei Ling Lee is separated from her best friend Yayeko Akiyama when she and her family were interned in the Manzanar War Relocation Center. By writing letters to each other, both young girls recount their painful separation and their lives in China City and Manzanar. The vivid watercolor paintings warmly portray the real scenes of the forgotten China City in Los Angeles and Manzanar. This unprecedented children’s book depicts the hardships and cross-cultural experiences of Americans of Chinese and Japanese ancestry during the war years. Includes facts about China City, the Manzanar War Relocation Center and historical photographs.
Author Icy Smith has taken the time to carefully research an important topic and transform shared human experiences into an interesting children’s book. She provides insights into the challenges and triumphs of ordinary people living during difficult times. …The collection of photos, documents, and beautiful illustrations by artist Gayle Garner Roski are poignant and informative. This book is highly recommended for fifth through eighth grades. – Social Studies Review
“Brightly hued watercolor illustrations [and] black-and-white photographs of actual participants in events of the 1940s bring the period to life.” – School Library Journal
“Deserves the absolute highest recommendation for public and school children’s library collections. – Midwest Book Review
The lively text, vivid illustrations … bring life to this little known time and place in history. – MultiCultural Review
“Author Icy Smith draws attention to the intense racism and severe deprivation of Asian and Asian American communities in America during World War II..the book’s subtlety will prompt older readers to explore more deeply the relationships between different countries and ethnic groups during the war.” – PaperTigers.org