Throwback Thursday — Dash

Welcome to Throwback Thursday this final Thursday of May, 2020. In recognition of Asian and Pacific Islander Heritage Month, I would like to share a poignant middle-grade historical novel about the Japanese American internment camps in the United States during World War II.

About the Book

What happens when a war comes between a girl and her dog?

New from Newbery Honor author Kirby Larson, the moving story of a Japanese-American girl who is separated from her dog upon being sent to an incarceration camp during WWII.

Although Mitsi Kashino and her family are swept up in the wave of anti-Japanese sentiment following the attack on Pearl Harbor, Mitsi never expects to lose her home—or her beloved dog, Dash. But, as World War II rages and people of Japanese descent are forced into incarceration camps, Mitsi is separated from Dash, her classmates, and life as she knows it.

The camp is a crowded and unfamiliar place, whose dusty floors, seemingly endless lines, and barbed wire fences begin to unravel the strong Kashino family ties. With the help of a friendly neighbor back home, Mitsi remains connected to Dash in spite of the hard times, holding on to the hope that the war will end soon and life will return to normal. Though they’ve lost their home, will the Kashino family also lose their sense of family? And will Mitsi and Dash ever be reunited?

Amazon



My Thoughts About This Book:

I am a huge fan of Kirby Larson’s historical fiction. Her books are well-written and well-researched. Her characters are multi-dimensional and her settings are so well-developed they become like characters in and of themselves.

A couple of summers ago I read her Young Adult historical series, ‘Hattie Big Sky’ and ‘Hattie Ever After’. Those stories are set in 1917 in Montana. I read and reviewed her fourth book in this ‘Dogs of World War II’ series, ‘Code Word Courage’.

One of the things I enjoyed about each of these books, including ‘Dash’, is the author’s ability to capture a reader’s attention and interest right from the start! In this book, we are introduced to the main character, Mitsi Kashino, and her beloved dog, Dash, in the first paragraph of the book. The story opens in Washington state right after Christmas, 1941.

Upon returning to school after the Christmas break Mitsi and the other students of Japanese descent are met with anger, resentment, and hatred from the majority of their classmates. The bombing of Pearl Harbor on December 7, 1941, fueled these negative feelings about the Japanese in the United States.

I believe this theme is an important historical issue to introduce to and discuss with middle-grade readers because we live in a diverse culture. Respect and acceptance are keys to thriving in our society.  I feel fiction can reach out to youngsters and touch their hearts in ways merely telling them to show ‘respect’ or ‘be kind’ cannot.

Throughout this moving story Mitsi navigates the serious issues of shame, prejudice, loss of friends, evacuation from her home, and internment in two Japanese relocation camps. She meets many cruel and insensitive people along the way. I found the author’s portrayal of these unkind individuals to be realistic and frankly, heart-wrenching.

The depiction of the depolorable conditions at the internment camps is accurate as far as my research into and knowledge of this subject matter. Family life at the camps was not easy for the internees because of the rustic/crude living conditions, lack of privacy, unfamiliar food, and severe weather conditions. I could almost taste the grit from the dust blowing around everywhere and smell the horrible odors in the latrines as described by this author.

A theme in this book which I especially appreciated was the kindness and understanding of several of the surrounding characters who were not internees.

Miss Wyatt, Mitsi’s school teacher, is a lovely person who does whatever she can to make Mitsi’s situation a little more bearable for the eleven-year-old. Mrs. Bowker, the Kashina family’s widowed neighbor, is loving and compassionate toward Mitsi and models what being a good neighbor and friend is all about. Some of the workers at the camps go out of their way to smile at and treat the internees with kindness. And then there is Dash, Mitsi’s loyal best friend! The two shared a deep bond and were both heartbroken when they were separated when the Kashina’s were evacuated.

Highly recommended for teachers, librarians, and parents/grandparents. Fans of World War II/American/California history and stories with diverse characters will appreciate this richly-layered story, too.

To learn more about this subject, follow this link to the United states national parks service website: 

Japanese American Confinement


Kirby Larson

About the Author

Kirby Larson went from history-phobe to history fanatic while writing the 2007 Newbery Honor Book, HATTIE BIG SKY. Her passion for historical fiction is reflected in titles such as THE FENCES BETWEEN US, THE FRIENDSHIP DOLL, as well as the sequel to HATTIE BIG SKY, HATTIE EVER AFTER, and her two latest titles, DUKE–which was nominated for 5 state Young Reader Choice awards as well as being a finalist for the Washington State Book Award– and DASH–which has garnered two starred reviews, a NAPPA Gold Award and a Capitol Choices nomination.

In 2006, Kirby began a collaboration with her good friend Mary Nethery resulting in two award-winning nonfiction picture books: TWO BOBBIES: A TRUE STORY OF HURRICANE KATRINA, FRIENDSHIP AND SURVIVAL, and NUBS: THE TRUE STORY OF A MUTT, A MARINE AND A MIRACLE.

Kirby lives in Kenmore, Washington with her husband, Neil, and Winston the Wonder Dog. When she’s not reading or writing Kirby enjoys beach combing, bird watching, and traveling. She owns a tiara and is not afraid to use it.

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Throwback Thursday — Indian Shoes

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Welcome to Throwback Thursday, Reader Friends! Today we’re featuring a story collection by Native American Author, Cynthia Leitich Smith. Indian Shoes was originally released in 2002 by Harper Collins. The book is recommended for children ages 7 and older.


 

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About the Book

What do Indian shoes look like, anyway? Like beautiful beaded moccasins…or hightops with bright orange shoelaces?

Ray Halfmoon prefers hightops, but he gladly trades them for a nice pair of moccasins for his Grampa. After all, it’s Grampa Halfmoon who’s always there to help Ray get in and out of scrapes — like the time they are forced to get creative after a homemade haircut makes Ray’s head look like a lawn-mowing accident.

This collection of interrelated stories is heartwarming and laugh-out-loud funny. Cynthia Leitich Smith writes with wit and candor about what it’s like to grow up as a Seminole-Cherokee boy who is just as happy pounding the pavement in windy Chicago as rowing on a take in rural Oklahoma.

Kirkus declared: “A very pleasing first-chapter book from its funny and tender opening salvo to its heartwarming closer. An excellent choice for younger readers.” School Library Journal hailed: “a good book for any elementary-aged reluctant reader and a necessity for indigenous children everywhere.” INDIAN SHOES has been named a Notable Children’s Trade Book in the Field of Social Studies, a finalist for the Texas Institute of Letters Award, to the 2003 Best Children’s Books of the Year, Bank Street College of Education; and to Choices 2003, Cooperative Children’s Book Center. It also was named to the NEA Native American Book List and the 2004-2005 Crown List. Most recently, INDIAN SHOES was chosen as the featured intermediate title for “Read On, Wisconsin!” (an online book club for students sponsored by the state’s First Lady) in March, 2005.

Amazon


My Thoughts About This Book:

Have you ever read a story collection where you told yourself as you finished reading each story, ‘That story was my favorite!’, only to read the next story to find yourself saying, ‘No, that one was definitely my favorite!’?

This is exactly what happened to me when I read this delightful collection of six short stories featuring young Ray Halfmoon and his grandfather, Grampa Halfmoon.

The pair currently live in Chicago, far from their relatives in Oklahoma. They are of Seminole and Cherokee descent. Grampa is raising Ray after Ray’s parents were tragically killed in a tornado.

Each story features incidents that happen in and around Chicago or in Oklahoma. Many of the stories have humorous scenes or humorous themes. Grampa’s feelings about life and his memories of the past are the underlying theme of each story. He enjoys sharing his family stories and cultural gems with Ray.

Grampa’s love and affection for Ray are evident in their daily activities and in the wisdom he exhibits for his grandson’s ups and downs and the challenges Ray faces in his young life. I admired the rapport between and the depth of their bond with each other and to their heritage.

The author’s use of higher-level vocabulary and her respect for the reader’s intelligence make this a great read for readers of all ages! I believe this would be an excellent read-aloud for families, classrooms, libraries, and youth/scout/church groups.
 
This collection was heartwarming and touching. I will be seeking out more of this author’s work to read in the future.
 

Highly-recommended to fans of Native American literature, diverse character fiction, family heritage fiction, historical fiction, and fiction where the main character is a male.

I borrowed this book from the New Book shelf in the children’s section of the local public library.
 

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About the Author

Cynthia’s fiction is noted for its diversity, humor, lyricism, and mid-to-southwestern settings. Still early in her career, she has shown tremendous range and loves to experiment.

Cynthia lives in Austin, Texas and is a citizen of the Muscogee Creek Nation. The Austin chapter of SCBWI has instituted the Cynthia Leitich Smith Mentor Award in her honor. She also serves on the faculty of the Vermont College of Fine Arts MFA program in Writing for Children and Young Adults and leads the annual We Need Diverse Books Native Writing Intensive.

Cynthia holds a bachelor’s degree in journalism from the University of Kansas and a J.D. from The University of Michigan Law School in Ann Arbor. She studied law abroad at Paris-Sorbonne University.

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Book Spotlight: An Alaskan Twin Surprise

Happy Wednesday – the first full week of January is already halfway behind us. Time is flying already!

Today I’m spotlighting a book that doesn’t release for a few more months but I’m already in love with the cover!!

ABOUT THE BOOK

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Title: An Alaskan Twin Surprise
Author: Belle Calhoune
Series: Home to Owl Creek
Publisher: Love Inspired
Release Date: May 1, 2020 (kindle) / April 21, 2020 (print)

The family he was supposed to have…
His runaway bride is back…
With twins!

The last person Gabriel Lawson expects to find in town is Rachel Marshall—especially with twin toddlers in tow. Gabriel refuses to risk his heart again on the woman who left him at the altar years ago. But working to renovate her mother’s house means he must spend time with Rachel and her adorable twins…and soon he can’t help but wish they were his family.

PREORDER IT NOW: Goodreads | Amazon | Harlequin | B&N


ABOUT THE AUTHOR

belle calhouneBelle Calhoune lives in Connecticut with her college sweetheart husband and two daughters. After a thirteen year career as a Federal Investigator, she chose to pursue a  writing career.  An avid lover of romance novels since she was a teen, she enjoys writing love stories and reading them. She loves spending summers in beautiful Cape Cod and traveling to new places. A dog lover, she has a mini poodle and a chocolate lab. More than anything, she believes in happily ever afters.

CONNECT WITH BELLE: website | Facebook | Twitter


Oh my goodness – those little girls on the cover have already stolen my heart. Are they not the cutest?!? I also love that four people of color are featured on the front. I can’t wait to read this book when it releases in April/May.

What about you? What interests you most about An Alaskan Twin Surprise?

Book Spotlight: No Longer a Stranger

Happy Wednesday!

Today we have Chloe S. Flanagan on the blog! Her book, No Longer a Stranger, features a Native American character. Check it out below and don’t forget to add to your TBR pile!


About the Book

EJ Handler is the perpetual class clown, but he’s also a loyal friend and dedicated worker at the tech company he helped found. Friendship and work are the only commitments he needs. Yet a dangerous scandal quickly upsets his laid back life and dredges up the old heartaches that made him fear responsibility in the first place. His only hope rests in his faith and the reluctant assistance of a mysterious female detective.

Sloan is a tough, unemployed cop with a penchant for taking on the cares of the world by herself, when an unexpected job offer gives her the opportunity to do what she loves. Little does she know that a simple job will bring the infuriating, but endearing EJ and a chance at the friendships she’s avoided for so long.

Amazon | Goodreads


About the Author

Chloe S. Flanagan is an author, technical writer, blogger, and graduate of New York University. She enjoys exploring the Christian walk frankly and thoughtfully in her fiction and in her blog, The Candid Corinthian. When she’s not writing, Chloe loves music, travel, reading books in all genres, and spending time with family.

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Post by contributor Toni Shiloh

Open Discussion: Summer Reading Challenge

Summer is winding down!

The blog has featured several great reads this week. Be sure to check them out. It’s not too late to get another book or two in before the fall comes.

Share your progress on your summer diverse reads. Remember, one reader will be interviewed on the blog. The winner will be announced on September 7th.

Happy reading!

Open Discussion: Summer Reading Challenge -Week 3

It’s already week 3 of our reading challenge! Time flies when you’re reading great books.

What great book are you reading? Have you finished your first book yet? Share how you are doing.

Be sure to check out the two featured books on the blog. Remember, the blog is taking a break for the summer from June 24 to July 6, but you can keep commenting, and most of all, reading.

Happy reading!