Kadohta, Cynthia. (2006). Weedflower. New York: Atheneum Books.
Textbook Chapter: 8
Subgenre: Historical Fiction/ War
Possible Curriculum Connections: Middle School Social Studies Unit on World War II/ Japanese Internment/ Native Americans
Book Summary: The novel is about a twelve year old Japanese American girl names Sumiko and her family. Sumiko and her little brother, Tak Tak, live with their uncle, aunt, grandfather, and two cousins on a flower farm in California in 1941. Life is good on the farm, until the bombing of Pearl Harbor in December of 1941. After the attack on Pearl Harbor, Sumiko's uncle and grandfather were moved to a prison camp because they were from Japan, and the rest of the family was relocated to an internment camp in Arizona with the other Japanese Americans. The family lived in barracks on a Native American reservation that turned into an internment camp. Although life was not as it once was, Sumiko makes friends, plants a garden, and actually begins to like life in the camp. She befriends a Native American boy, and helps he and his family begin a farm of their own. In the end, Sumiko does not want to leave the camp, but knows she must in order to start a new life with her family. She was sad to leave her friends, but she knew that it was necessary to start over.
Personal Reaction/ Why Teens Would Want to Read this book:
I really liked Weedflower. It was written for a younger audience, as the vocabulary was not very difficult, and the protagonist in the story was twelve years old. The novel touched on important themes from the Japanese Internment, and it did not sugar coat how difficult that time period was for Japanese Americans. Sumiko, the main character, was endearing and it would be easy for many adolescent girls to relate to her as she struggles with making friends, caring for her family, and growing up. The merging of two minorities (Native Americans and Japanese Americans) during World War II was something I had never thought about before, so the book provided a unique perspective. Overall, this was a well-written, easy to read book that dealt with a subject that teens may not know much about. I would highly recommend this book!