Sunday, June 17, 2018


--  'PAPER WISHES'  --
by Author Lois Sepahban

ABOUT THE BOOK {from Goodreads}:
A moving debut novel about a girl whose family is relocated to a Japanese internment camp during World War II—and the dog she has to leave behind.

Ten-year-old Manami did not realize how peaceful her family's life on Bainbridge Island was until the day it all changed. It's 1942, after the attack on Pearl Harbor, and Manami and her family are Japanese American, which means that the government says they must leave their home by the sea and join other Japanese Americans at a prison camp in the desert. Manami is sad to go, but even worse is that they are going to have to give her dog, Yujiin, to a neighbor to take care of. Manami decides to sneak Yujiin under her coat, but she is caught and forced to abandon him. She is devastated but clings to the hope that somehow Yujiin will find his way to the camp and make her family whole again. It isn't until she finds a way to let go of her guilt that Manami can accept all that has happened to her family.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: {from author's website}:
Lois grew up in central California. Her family moved around a lot, but during her early years she lived in the Tehachapi mountains that form the southeastern boundary of California's Central Valley. She spent her childhood climbing trees, reading books, and creating maps and leading her brother and sister on hunts for buried treasures. On all of her adventures she was accompanied by her dog, Strider, an Australian shepherd, who walked her to the bus stop every morning and then met her there to walk home at the end of the day.

Later, her family moved to the city. She studied literature in college and became a teacher. When she read books out loud to her students, especially books like THE MOORCHILD by Eloise McGraw or SOUNDER by William H. Armstrong, she became inspired to write books of her own.

Today, she is married and has two children. She lives on a small farm where she has a barn that she fills with animals who need homes. She has dogs, cats, and the sweetest chickens in the world!

Author's Website:

This touching story is set in California beginning in March, 1942. The story traces the lives of the Tanaka family of Bainbridge Island, Washington. The family includes ten year old Manami, her parents, her grandfather {Mr. Ishii}, and the family pet—a dog named Yujiin. An older brother, Ron, and sister, Keiko, are away at college in Indiana.

The close-knit family seems to live an idyllic life together until Executive Order 9066 is signed by President Franklin D. Roosevelt following the traumatic event of the bombing of the American Naval Base at Pearl Harbor, Hawaii, by Japan on December 7, 1941.

This order mandated the relocation of Japanese immigrants and their children who were born in the United States from the United States military zones along the west coast. There were ten relocation camps set up by the War Relocation Authority where all Japanese and Japanese-Americans from Washington, Oregon, and California would be housed.

'Paper Wishes' is set in Manzanar, one of two California relocation camps. Manzanar is located in the Owens Valley of eastern California with the Sierra Nevada Mountains to the west and the Inyo Mountains to the east. Over ten thousand people were sent to Manzanar. Most came from southern California, but some also came from San Francisco, Palo Alto, and Bainbridge Island, Washington.

After reading several non-fiction books about this subject, I feel the author painted an accurate portrait of what life was like for these families in Manzanar. The living conditions were crude and unpleasant. The barracks were constructed with no insulation and had one ceiling lightbulb, eight army cots, and an oil stove for heating. Two families shared a barracks. The bathrooms {latrines} and dining hall {mess hall} were in separate buildings.

The main character in this novel is Manami. She is very close to her widowed grandfather. The family's adored pet, Yujiin, was confiscated by the US Army military police when the family was being evacuated. This loss, along with the stress and trauma of being removed from their happy home on Bainbridge Island, results in Manami ceasing to speak aloud. Grandfather and Manami are noticeably depressed, and Manami's parents are extremely worried about her lack of enthusiasm for life.

The family does everything they can to help Manami's heart to heal, but still she does not speak. Through the kindness of her Caucasian school teacher, Rosalie, Manami begins to share her feelings through drawings.

This book is about Manami's journey through her unappealing life as an internee and how her family navigates the daily challenges of being treated like prisoners—except that they have done nothing wrong.

As I finished reading this book, I was left admiring these courageous individuals who built close communities within their camps by sharing meals, celebrating their longtime Japanese customs and traditions, and by doing the best they could by using their ingenuity to create the necessities of life {furniture, toys, food, gardens, etc.} along with taking the time to create beauty through their artwork and sewing skills.

I feel this is book would be a great launching point for middle-grade students to learn some frank details about a dark, negative time period in American history. Seeing things from the other side, Manami's side, will give students a different perspective of what life is like for immigrants, especially those whose heritage is apparent in their physical appearance.

Highly-recommended for fans of historical fiction,
Japanese history/culture, American history, California history, World War II history, and middle-grade fiction.

I borrowed this book from the children's section of the local public library.


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COMING UP SOON ON 'READING, WRITING & STITCH-METIC':-- Tuesday, June 19th: Historical Fiction Feature for 'Miss Wilton's Waltz' by author Josi Kilpack. Post includes a book spotlight, author bio, excerpt, and giveaway. Tour hosted by I Am A Reader.

-- Wednesday, June 20th: Blog Tour stop for two children's books, 'Daughter of Jerusalem' {a middle-grade novel} -and- 'The You Song' {a juvenile non-fiction book}. Tour hosted by Write Now Literary.

-- Friday, June 22nd: Blog Tour stop for 'A Vast and Gracious Tide'. Post includes: Book spotlight, excerpt, and giveaway. Tour hosted by JustRead Publicity

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  1. This would be a good companion book to THE LAST CHERRY BLOSSOM by Kathleen Burkinshaw. Both stories are about girls but set in very different places. I've had PAPER WISHES on my radar for some time now and hope to finally get to a copy this year. Thanks for you insightful review.

  2. Hello, Greg ~ Thanks for your kind remarks about my post. I appreciate the recommendation of the companion book, as I've never heard of 'The Last Cherry Blossom'. I will look for it straight-away. Regards, June

  3. Excellent review. I haven't read this book. I never tire of reading stories like this. Young people need to know what happened. It would also pair nicely with "Sylvia and Aki" by Winifred Conkling and "Dash" by Kirby Larson.

    1. Oh, my goodness, you made my day with your positive comments, Patricia! Thank you so much for sharing the titles of these other two books, as I have not read either of them. They're now on my growing TBR list. Best wishes, June

  4. I've seen another book around which tells of a Japanese girl who had to leave her dog behind when relocating to the camp, and might have mixed them up without your wonderful review. Thanks so much, and happy reading!

    1. Hello, Suzanne ~ Your compliment of my review brightened my day, too! Thank you for stopping by my blog again. Take care, June