Fish for Jimmy (book)
Creators: Katie Yamasaki, Katie Yamasaki (illustrator)
Book cover. Courtesy of Holiday House
View in the Densho Encyclopedia
Fish for Jimmy: Inspired by One Family's Experience in a Japanese American Internment Camp , written and illustrated by Katie Yamasaki, is based on the author's great-grandfather's family experience at the Granada camp in Amache, Colorado. This picture book for young readers which expresses in few words an older brother's act of kindness and daring that kept a family strong during their imprisonment.
Taro, his younger brother Jimmy, father, and mother live comfortably in California where father is the co-owner of a successful vegetable market. On the evening of December 7, 1941 , FBI agents arrive at their home to take father away. Father takes Taro aside and tells him he is now the man of the house and to take care of his mother and Jimmy.
Soon Taro, his mother, and Jimmy are sent to an unnamed incarceration camp. Jimmy misses the smell of the sea and the fresh vegetables and fish of his regular diet. Time passes and Jimmy refuses to eat the unfamiliar food served in the mess hall and then stops playing with the other children. Mother and Taro grow increasingly worried as Jimmy's health falters. One night Taro cannot sleep and remembers his father's words—he needs to do something to help Jimmy and makes a desperate decision. Taro takes a pair garden shears, sneaks past the lights of the guard towers, and cuts a hole through the fence. He runs to a mountain and comes upon a cold stream where he catches fresh fish for Jimmy to eat. In the morning, mother cooks the fish and Jimmy eats joyfully.
Later, when father is released and reunites with the family, Taro shares the secret about his weekly adventure to the mountains to catch fish for Jimmy.
Fishing was a popular pastime for many Japanese Americans held in War Relocation Authority concentration camps. The documentary film Manzanar Fishing Club recounts stories of Manzanar inmates sneaking out of that camp to fish in nearby streams.
Published by Holiday House in 2013, Fish for Jimmy: Inspired by One Family's Experience in a Japanese American Internment Camp includes an afterward by the author as well as family photos at Amache.
An artist based in Brooklyn, New York, author Yamasaki has painted over forty murals, in addition to authoring three published children's books. She is the granddaughter of architect Minoru Yamasaki .
Find in the Digital Library of Japanese American Incarceration