A Lot or a Little?
What you will—and won't—find in this book.
Don't judge people by their color or ethnicity. Make the best out of a bad situation. Friends and family help you survive hard times. War and fear can bring out the worst in people.
Positive Role Models
Sumiko is kind and empathetic, and Frank is a good friend and loyal brother. But other characters display prejudice and poor behavior: A mother refuses to let Sumiko attend her daughter's birthday party because Sumiko is Japanese; when the Japanese basketball team plays an Indian team, the Indians are "told to stay away from the Camp Three girls." Kids in the camp steal food, including a chicken, and don't obey their parents. Sumiko's friend Sachi lies all the time. Sumiko's aunt tells her that "taking care of old men's feet was one of a woman's jobs."
Violence & Scariness
The book is set in the early 1940s and discusses Pearl Harbor and World War II. One character's brother is killed in battle. People in the camp beat up a man they believe is an informant. Boys beat up one character; Sumiko hits one of the boys in the face with a stick. A boy cracks a chicken's neck to kill it.
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Sex, Romance & Nudity
Sumiko's brother likes to date many girls.
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Derogatory language such as "Japs" and "Indian lover."
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Products & Purchases
White people swoop down on Japanese neighborhoods to buy household goods, etc., at a fraction of what the items are worth.
Drinking, Drugs & Smoking
Sumiko tries smoking a cigarette like some of the other kids but she gets so sick two boys need to carry her home. Older teens, including Sumiko's brothers, smoke.
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Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that Weedflower, by Cynthia Kadohata, who won the Newbery Medal for Kira-Kira and the U.S. National Book Award for The Thing About Luck, addresses issues of racism and discrimination during World War II, including the U.S. internment of Japanese Americans. There are two incidents of groups beating up individuals, descriptions of cigarette smoking by teens, and several examples of children stealing.
Is It Any Good?
Newbery Medal-winning author Cynthia Kadohata's story about families forced into internment camps offers a fresh angle on the topic. It juxtaposes the prejudice against Japanese Americans with ongoing discrimination of Native Americans on the reservation "hosting" the camp. Sumiko is surprised to discover, for example, that her new friend Frank's tribe cannot vote; no one on the reservation has electricity or running water.
The reflective story will appeal to those who appreciate Sumiko's close relationship with her older cousins and younger brother and want to learn more about this dark period in U.S. history.
Did we miss something on diversity?
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Our Editors Recommend
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