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Book review by
Stephanie Dunnewind, Common Sense Media
Weedflower Book Poster Image
Fresh perspective on WWII Japanese internment camps in U.S.

Parents say

age 8+
Based on 1 review

Kids say

age 10+
Based on 7 reviews

A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this book.

Positive Messages

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 & Representations

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."


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.



Sumiko's brother likes to date many girls.


Derogatory language such as "Japs" and "Indian lover."


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.

What 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.

User Reviews

  • Parents say
  • Kids say
Parent of a 15 year old Written byjibran_pcc January 8, 2011
Talk to your kids about the media in their life. We have more tools and tips that can helpkate
Kid, 10 years old April 12, 2009

Great Book

Good historical fiction book. I really enjoyed it. This book talks about the internment camps for Japanese. A good book to read.
Teen, 14 years old Written bykhrystyna September 21, 2009

Perfect for ages 10+!

I am 14, and I have read this book for my english assignment, the book I had to choose had to have issues of discrimination. Which is why I have chosen this boo... Continue reading

What's the story?

Sixth-grader Sumiko's family is uprooted from its California flower farm and forced into an Arizona internment camp when the United States joins World War II. Sumiko slowly finds her way in her new life, creating a garden and befriending a boy from the Mohave reservation. But once she's settled, will her family have to move yet again?

Is it any good?

In WEEDFLOWER, Newbery Medal-winning author Cynthia Kadohata first seems to offer a sad but familiar story about families forced into internment camps. However, she finds a fresh angle by juxtaposing 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.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about the internment of Japanese and Japanese-American people in the United states during World War II. Do you think it was justified?

  • Did you know about it the wartime Japanese internment before you read this book? Do you think it should be more widely discussed in school?


  • What do you think of Sumiko's idea of "ultimate boredom," which she describes as "dread of your own mind, dread of the next day, the next hour, the next minute." How does Sumiko fight this condition?

Book details

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