"They had everything taken from them because they were Japanese."
Cousins Lou and Charlotte don’t know a lot about their grandmother’s life. When their Obaasan invites them to spend the day in her garden, she also invites them into their family’s secrets. Grandma shares her experience as a Japanese Canadian during WWII, revealing the painful story of Japanese internment. Her family was forced apart. Whole communities were uprooted, moved into camps, their belongings stolen. Lou and Charlotte struggle with the injustice, even as they marvel at their grandmother’s strength. They begin to understand how their identities have been shaped by racism, and that history is not only about the past.
Praise & Recognition
“A book that so beautifully captures the intimate and ongoing effects of internment on post war Japanese Canadian families. Bridger and Okihiro fully inhabit the idea that ‘history is not only about the past’ by tracing its present-day echoes and reverberations—in gardens, at dinner tables and through everyday familial relationships.”Kyo Maclear, author of Virginia Woolf and The Wishing Tree
"This book could also be included in a children’s literature class or in a thematic unit about works of literature that focus on the Second World War’s impact on people from different communities. Highly Recommended."Canadian Review of Materials
Publication Date: October 3, 2023
Reading Age: 9 - 12
Genre: Children's Fiction, Middle Grade
Product Format: Paperback
About the Author
Lara Jean Okihiro
Lara Jean Okihiro is a writer, researcher, and educator of mixed Japanese Canadian heritage living in Toronto. Intrigued by the power and magic of stories, she earned a Master’s (Goldsmiths College) and a Doctorate (University of Toronto) in English. Living abroad inspired her to learn about her family’s experience of internment. Lara writes about dispossession, hoarding, social justice, and carrying the important lessons of the past into the future.
About the Author
Janis Bridger is an educator and writer who has many creative outlets and a love for the outdoors. She lives in Vancouver, Canada, close to where her Japanese Canadian grandparents lived before being interned. Janis earned a diploma in Professional Photography (Langara College), a Bachelor of Education and General Studies (Simon Fraser University) and a Master of Education (University of Alberta), specializing in teacher-librarianship. Social justice, diversity, and kindness are paramount in her life and embedded in her everyday teaching.