Iwasaki and her family are paying what may be their last visit to Laura's
grandfather's grave. The grave is at Manzanar, where thousands of Americans
of Japanese heritage were interned during World War II. Among those rounded
up and taken to the internment camp were Laura's father, then a small
boy, and his parents. Now Laura says goodbye to Grandfather in her own
special way, with a gesture that crosses generational lines and bears
witness to the patriotism that survived a shameful episode in America's
history. Eve Bunting's poignant text and Chris K. Soentpiet's detailed,
evocative paintings make the story of this family's visit to Manzanar,
and of the memories stirred by the experience, one that
will linger in readers' minds and hearts.
MY THOUGHTS OF "SO FAR FROM THE SEA":
Eve Bunting is one of my favorite authors. The way she can take a complex
issue and make it simplistic and inviting. She writes with honesty and
sensitivity about issues that are important in our country's history.
- Chris Soentpiet
Eve Bunting is the author of more than 150 books, Bunting has written something for every age group -- everything from young adult novels to picture books, on subjects ranging from homelessness (Fly Away Home), a modern-day look at a Civil War battlefield (The Blue and the Gray), the Irish village of Maghera where she was born (Market Day), and Smoky Night, about the Los Angeles riots, illustrated by David Diaz and winner of a Caldecott Medal.
Look for another Eve Bunting and Chris Soentpiet collaboration, JIN WOO.
Political history becomes personal narrative
in this evocative story about a family's connection to Manzanar, one of
the WWII camps where Japanese- Americans were interned. Prior to moving
from California to Boston, the Iwasaki pay a last visit to the grave of
Grandfather Iwasaki. Gazing across acres of empty space that once housed
close to 10,000 prisoners, Mr. and Mrs. Iwasaki share vivid memories of
camp life with their two young children, Thomas and Laura. As they struggle
to explain the unfair treatment accorded her ancestors, Laura listens
quietly, then just before leaving, places one final memento on her grandfather's
grave. Bunting's spare prose effectively matches the developmental level
of the ages for which this book is geared, and will generate questions
that both educators and parents will find difficult to answer. Stark watercolors
of the present alternate with black-and-white drawings representing scenes
from the past. Together, text and illustrations create and sustain a mood
reflection and reminiscence suited to the topic.
- KIRKUS REVIEW: APRIL 15, 1998
Theme: SO FAR FROM THE SEA can be used to introduce your
students to Japanese-Americans, the internment camps, World War
II, refugees, discrimination, multigenerational families, parents
who have jobs and homes that were taken them away from them, parents
who serve in the military.
It was 1942, the President agreed to remove all persons of Japanese
lineage... aliens and citizens alike, from the areas of California,
Oregon and Washington. 2,192 Japanese Americans under arrest by
the FBI. President Roosevelt created the War Relocation Authority
(WRA). Milton Eisenhower became responsible for the plan to move
the Japanese Americans to the interment camps. Congress imposed
federal penalties for those Japanese who refuse to obey orders.
Manzanar, the first American concentration camp was opened.
Show the students the cover of the book, read the title, author
and illustrators name. Ask them what they think the book will be
about. Next show the illustrations -- now what do they think the
book will be about. Set the location of the book -- tell the students
the book has a story within a story. Explain that the father will
tell a story that happened many years ago.
As you read and show the illustrations have the students look
closely at the drawings. What details can they find in the pictures?
Have them look closely at the expressions on the faces for the characters
-- how do they change during the story. Ask the students how they
think the characters are feeling when they were waiting to get on
the bus to take them to the camps. Can they tell by the illustrations?
Talk with a Japanese-American. Do they know anyone who was interned
in the camps? How about talking with a WWII Veteran -- then write
Locate Japan on the map. Spend more time studying the Japanese
American, Pearl Harbor, and WWII. Talk about the internment camps.
Why were the Japanese interned and not the Italians or the Germans?
Read books like, BASEBALL
SAVED US by Ken Mochizuiki, THE
BRACELET by Yoshiko Uchida, GRANDFATHER'S
JOURNEY by Allen Say, I AM AN AMERICAN by Jerry Stanley. Look
for other books by Eve Bunting or Chris Soentpiet. If you really
enjoyed SO FAR FROM THE SEA write a review
and post it on-line at Amazon.com
so others can enjoy your reading experience.
Make an origami
- Start with
a perfectly square sheet of paper. Paper made specifically for
origami can be found at most craft stores. It is usually colored
only on one side. I used a sheet that was colored on both sides.
folding one edge to meet to other, with the colored side outward...
the paper and lay it flat. Now repeat step 2 in the other direction,
and open up it up again. Fold it
diagonally. Line it up corner to corner...
- Open up
the paper, repeat step 4 in the other direction, and open up the
Board - bring in a suitcase for display. Have each student list
what they would pack if the had to leave home suddenly -- remember
they will have to carry one suitcase!