Wednesday, June 12, 2013

Dear Miss Breed

Dear Miss Breed: True Stories of the Japanese American Incarceration During World War II and a Librarian Who Made a Difference

Today’s Non-fiction post is on “Dear Miss Breed” by Joanne Oppenheim. It is 287 including photo credits, an index, a bibliography, notes and an appendix. It is published by Scholastic Nonfiction. The story is told in unusual way as the author speaks to the reader with her thoughts about the letters and the events that happen in the book. The cover is like an envelope with a stamp in the right hand corner that has Miss Breed’s face on it. It also has a picture of a young Japanese American boy reading a book with the words- True stores of the Japanese American incarceration during World War II and a Librarian who made a difference. There is no language, no sex, and no violence in this book. This Non-fiction book is written for children about  the age of eight like the ones that Miss Breed was writing too but older readers will get much from this book too. There Be Spoilers Ahead.

From the dust jacket- To Americans of Japanese ancestry, World War II came like a hurricane that swept away their security and freedom. On December 7, 1941 they woke up as citizens and by nightfall, after the sneak attack on Pearl Harbor, they were the enemy who could not be trusted. In a matter of months they would be imprisoned by their own government. Their only crime was having the “wrong” ancestors.
While wars are usually told in terms of great battles and major victories, the true story of war is often reflected in quiet acts of courage. Dear Miss Breed is the account of how a remarkable librarian became a lifeline to “her children” as she called the middle- and high-school-aged Japanese Americans of San Diego whom she had come to know and love.
Joanne Oppenheim’s narrative is woven with the voices of the incarcerated – the experiences, struggles, and challenges they faced before, during, and even long after the war. Thanks to the books, gifts, and mail send by Clara Breed, they held on to their faith in better times to come. Told through letters, students essays, and recent oral histories with survivors of the dark time in history, this is a cautionary tale about what fear and hysteria can do even in the world’s greatest democracy.

Review- This is a moving story about one librarian who believed that innocent people should not be punished just because they happen to born from one ancestry. I was moved by this true story greatly. I am a librarian so I understand getting close to your patrons and I want to believe that America is greater than how we act sometimes. Miss Breed was public about her opinions on the incarceration of the Japanese Americans by writing many articles about it and by writing those in power to try and get them freed. The children who lived in those camps remember her with great affection and respect. I think that she was an unsung hero of the war here on the home front. Oppenheim’s compassionate treatment of both those in the camps and those who feared Japanese Americans is heartening. I truly enjoyed this book and I think that this time in history should not over looked. The language of this book is easy to understand so that younger children can read and understand what is going on.

I give this book Five out of Five stars. I get nothing for my book review, I borrowed this book from my local library, and I read it for a graduate school course.