In 1942, President Roosevelt signed Executive Order 9066, which “relocated” Japanese-American citizens to internment camps. Inspired by a true family story, Tokuda-Hall has written a fictionalized account of her grandparents’ experience in such a camp. Tama was in college when she was abruptly placed in Minidoka Camp in Idaho. The conditions were harsh, with very cold winters and very hot summers, and an entire family was forced to live in one room. Tama’s only solace was working in the library. She loved the way books magically took her to other worlds. A camp resident named George became a daily library visitor, checking out several books and returning them the next day. One day, Tama is overwhelmed by the injustice and begins to cry. George comforts her, and Tama realizes why George comes to the library so frequently. The couple marries and has their first child in the camp, demonstrating the power of love and resilience in overcoming prejudice and hate. The author’s note includes more of Tama and George Tokuda’s story along with a photo. Imamura’s gouache and watercolor drawings help readers understand more about this unjust time in American history.
THOUGHTS: This text can be used as an introduction to World War II units about the home front. Like Say’s Music for Alice or Mochizuki’s Baseball Saved Us, Love in the Library promotes discussion about prejudice, racism, and stereotyping. Highly recommended for elementary collections.
Picture Book Denise Medwick, Retired, PSLA Member