A Place to Belong

by Cynthia Kadohata and Julia Kuo

In 1946, Hanako, 12, and her family arrive in Japan with others who, like her parents,... read more

In 1946, Hanako, 12, and her family arrive in Japan with others who, like her parents, refused to sign a loyalty oath while imprisoned in U.S. internment camps during World War II and are being deported. Their U.S. military ship lands near devastated Hiroshima. Her grandparents live in the countryside and are overjoyed to see their son and meet their daughter-in-law and grandchildren, but their spare survival is made more tenuous with Hana’s family to feed. It’s hard for Hana to refuse hungry people who knock at the door asking for food, although the adults tell her she must. How can she say no to someone who’s starving? But how can she give away food when her little brother, Akira, remembers imprisonment as a time when there was always enough to eat? While the adults work long days, Hana begins attending the village school, longing to feel less like an outsider. Then she faces startling news related to efforts to restore the civil rights of deported Japanese Americans. Hana’s deep feelings and probing thoughts, and singular, memorable characters propel a story that seamlessly weaves history and culture into an aching, beautiful tale of family and refugees and survival, one that also reflects realities playing out for so many children today. An author’s note provides additional information about the history surrounding the story’s events. (Ages 9–13)

© Cooperative Children's Book Center, Univ. of Wisconsin - Madison, 2020

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