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Not Just for Kids! Reviews of Lauren R. Harris' The Plum Neighbor and Andrea Warren's Enemy Child: The Story of Norman Mineta, a Boy Imprisoned in a Japanese American Internment Camp During World War II

13 Dec 2019 1:17 PM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

Children rarely encounter books about the relocation and incarceration of people of Japanese ancestry in the US after the bombing of Pearl Harbor. Fortunately, two titles have recently been published that tell the fraught story of the Japanese American community during WWII to young readers. In The Plum Neighbor, author Lauren R. Harris, tells a wonderful and touching tale of neighborly friendship and kinship between the Bateses and the Satos, two California farming families. In the picture book, which is based on a true story, the two families are brought together by a frost that threatens to ruin the Bates’ crop, only to be torn apart later by the War and the US Government’s call for individuals of Japanese heritage to be sent to internment camps. The Satos must leave behind their farm and friends. In what could have been (and often was) a sad ending, the Bates son and Sato son meet again in the Vosges mountains, when Henry Sato, now in the 442nd, helps rescue and reunites with his buddy Bobby Bates, part of the “Lost Battalion.” Throughout this remarkable story, Harris weaves old-fashioned aphorisms such as “good things come to those who wait” and “many friends make light work” which brilliantly capture the honorable values of both families and at the same time introduces time tested nuggets of wisdom to young people. A historical addendum includes a photo of and information about Bobby Bates, the 100th Infantry Battalion/442nd Regimental Combat Team and the Go For Broke National Education Center. The Plum Neighbor can be purchased through the Go For Broke website shop http://www.goforbroke.com/. Please go to Lauren's website   www.LaurenRHarris.com for more information about the story, or to schedule an author visit.

Also released is the only biography of Norman Mineta. Enemy Child: The Story of Norman Mineta, a Boy Imprisoned in a Japanese American Internment Camp During World War II by Andrea Warren. Intended for children, the biography follows the incredible arc of Mineta’s life from his baseball-card-loving childhood days to his bewildering and traumatic time at Heart Mountain incarceration camp in Wyoming, to his US Army service in Japan and Korea, to becoming the first Asian Mayor of San Jose, CA, to his election to the US House of Representatives, to his work as Secretary of Transportation in the George W, Bush Administration. Readers learn not only about the painfully cruel experience of relocation and camp life but also learn about a few of the bright spots including the chance meeting with Alan Simpson, a fellow Boy Scout whose Wyoming troop was visiting Heart Mountain camp on an outing. Discovering the friendship rekindles in the US Capitol where Mineta is serving as a California congressman and Simpson is serving as a Wyoming senator will delight youth as well as adult readers. Mineta’s unflagging dedication to a more equitable society is highlighted as Warren explains the Congressman’s work to pass legislation that apologized and made reparations to innocent Japanese immigrant and Japanese American families who during WWII were put behind barbed wire and treated with disdain because of their race. Amazingly, a full circle of history is contained in Mineta’s life and Warren’s carefully researched book. Enemy Child is truly an American story of overcoming discrimination and barriers, to not only rise but also work to correct society’s injustices. Enemy Child may be purchased through local booksellers or on Amazon https://www.amazon.com/Enemy-Child-Imprisoned-Japanese-Internment/dp/0823441512

[EdNote: JAVA Member Noriko Sanefuji contributed to the article. Ms. Sanefuji is a Museum Specialist at the Smithsonian National Museum of American History.]

On Tuesday, November 19th, the Smithsonian held a discussion and book signing at the National Museum of American History with the museum’s Elizabeth MacMillan Director, Anthea M. Hartig; former Cabinet Secretary Norman Mineta; and Andrea Warren, author of Enemy Child: The Story of Norman Mineta, a Boy Imprisoned in a Japanese American Internment Camp During World War Il. The two pictures below are from the event.

L-R: Author Andrea Warren, The Honorable Norman Mineta and Museum Director, Anthea M. Hartig. Photo: Noriko Sanefuji.

Seated at far end of table Author Andrea Warren and The Honorable Norman Mineta at Enemy Child book signing held at the Smithsonian National Museum of American History on November 19, 2019. Photo: Noriko Sanefuji.


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