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Browse > Theme > Loss of innocence

30 articles

Looking Like the Enemy: My Story of Imprisonment in Japanese-American Internment Camps (book)

  • Books
  • Grades 7-8, Grades 9-12, Adult
  • Grades 7-8, Grades 9-12, Adult
  • Memoir, Children's
  • Evils of racism, Facing darkness, Family – blessing or curse, Injustice, Loss of innocence, Power of the past
  • Widely available

Incarceration memoir of life at Pinedale Assembly Center , Tule Lake , and Minidoka , by Mary Matsuda Gruenewald, a seventeen-year-old Nisei at the time of her and her family's forced removal from their Washington state farm. First published in 2005 by NewSage Press, it was followed by a young reader's edition in 2010.

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The War Outside (book)

  • Books
  • Grades 7-8, Grades 9-12, Adult
  • Grades 7-8
  • Young Adult, History
  • Coming of age, Growing up – pain or pleasure, Loss of innocence
  • Widely available

Young adult novel by Monica Hesse that tells a complex story of a friendship between two teenage girls, one Japanese American and one German American, in the Crystal City internment camp in the fall of 1944.

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Blue Skies and Thunder: Farm Boy, Pilot, Inventor, TSA Officer, and WWII Soldier of the 442nd Regimental Combat Team (book)

  • Books
  • Memoir
  • Coming of age, Death - inevitable or tragedy, Disillusionment and dreams, Displacement, Facing reality, Family - blessing or curse, Injustice, Loss of innocence, Overcoming - fear, weakness, vice, War - glory, necessity, pain, tragedy
  • Available

Mixed race Nisei shares his story, from a tough childhood growing up on a farm in the Midwest to his experiences in combat with the 522nd Field Artillery Battalion during World War II.

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Eagle Against the Sun (film)

  • Films and Video
  • Grades 6-8, Grades 9-12, Adult
  • Drama
  • Loss of innocence, Coming of age, Evils of racism
  • Limited availability

A dramatic short film by John Akahoshi centering on a 17-year-old Japanese American high school girl and the impact the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor has on her life.

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Home in the West (short story)

  • Short Stories
  • Grades 9-12, Adult
  • Evils of racism, Individual versus society, Injustice, Loss of innocence, Totalitarianism
  • Widely available

Short story recounting the return to California by Hirosho Yugi and his wife after their incarceration at Heart Mountain . His initial happiness is dulled when a group of neighbors try to force him out, first by burning down a shed and throwing rocks through windows, then by the burning down of their house. The day after their house is torched, they receive a telegram informing them of the death of their son in combat in Italy.

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Allegiance (book)

  • Books
  • Grades 9-12, Adult
  • Historical Fiction, Mystery
  • Emptiness of attaining a false dream, Facing darkness, Injustice, Loss of innocence, Power and corruption
  • Widely available

Historical mystery novel by Kermit Roosevelt set during World War II against the backdrop of the Supreme Court and the Japanese American cases.

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The Harvest of Hate (book)

  • Books
  • Grades 9-12, Adult
  • Historical Fiction
  • Evils of racism, Family – blessing or curse, Loss of innocence, Patriotism – positive side or complications
  • Available

Novel focusing on one Japanese American family's forced removal and incarceration written by a former teacher at Poston . Originally written in 1946, The Harvest of Hate first saw publication forty years later.

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The Shoyu Kid (short story)

  • Short Stories
  • Grades 9-12, Adult
  • Fiction
  • Coming of age, Growing up – pain or pleasure, Illusion of power, Loss of innocence, Vulnerability of the meek
  • Widely available

Short story by Lonny Kaneko set in Minidoka centering on three boys who chase and bully a fourth boy, in the process unearthing his molestation by a camp guard. The Seattle-based author had been incarcerated at Minidoka as a child. The Shoyu Kid was originally published in Amerasia Journal in 1976.

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A Place to Belong (book)

  • Books
  • Grades 7-8, Grades 9-12
  • Grades 7-8
  • Children's, Historical Fiction
  • Coming of age, Facing darkness, Family – blessing or curse, Growing up – pain or pleasure, Loss of innocence, Will to survive
  • Widely available

Young adult novel by Cynthia Kadohata that tells the story of a Japanese American family's experience in postwar Japan from the perspective of an adolescent female protagonist.

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Gila River and Mama: The Ruth Mix Story (film)

  • Films and Video
  • Grades 6-8, Grades 9-12, Adult
  • Documentary
  • Injustice, Loss of innocence, Power of the past
  • Available

Documentary film that tells the story of the mass removal and incarceration of Japanese Americans through the eyes of Ruth Mix, who as a fifteen year old, accompanied her mother Frida, a teacher, to Gila River and lived among the inmates. Filmmaker Claire Mix is the daughter of Ruth.

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The Flower Girls (short story)

  • Short Stories
  • Grades 9-12, Adult
  • Heartbreak of betrayal, Loss of innocence, Optimism – power or folly, Progress – real or illusion
  • Available

Short story by Lawson Fusao Inada . Two girls named Cherry and Rose—dubbed the "flower girls" by their teacher—become best friends as first and second graders in Portland, Oregon, just prior to World War II. They play at each other's houses after school and explore each other's neighborhood, though both agree that Cherry's—the Japantown area known as Shita Machi—is more interesting. But the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor drives a wedge between them, and Cherry and her family are soon sent away. While the girls exchange a few letters, they soon lose touch. Switching to the present, the narrator writes about a new Cherry and Rose, who meet to play in the Japanese garden of a Portland park.

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Tallgrass (book)

  • Books
  • Grades 9-12, Adult
  • Historical Fiction
  • Change versus tradition, Coming of age, Dangers of ignorance, Female roles, Loss of innocence
  • Widely available

Coming-of-age novel by Sandra Dallas set in rural Colorado during World War II when the life of adolescent girl is transformed by the arrival of Japanese Americans from the West Coast in a nearby concentration camp.

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The Fences Between Us: The Diary of Piper Davis (book)

  • Books
  • Grades 3-5, Grades 7-8
  • Grades 3-5, Grades 7-8
  • Children's, Historical Fiction
  • Coming of age, Injustice, Loss of innocence
  • Widely available

Novel for elementary and middle schoolers about a young white teenage girl's experience of World War II including the Japanese American removal and incarceration told in the form of a diary. The Fences Between Us is part of the Dear America series, all of which are written in the form of diaries by young women/girls from various key moments in U.S. history.

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The Service Flags (short story)

  • Short Stories
  • Grades 9-12, Adult
  • Evils of racism, Heroism—real and perceived, Individual versus society, Loss of innocence, Self-reliance
  • Widely available

Short story by Bill Hosokawa about the first days of resettlement of a young mother and her nine-year-old son. Helen Yamano and her son Jamie arrive in an unspecified city, and she hangs two flags, one for her brother who had been killed, presumably as an Military Intelligence Service linguist, and one for her husband, who is serving in Europe in the 442nd . Her first days on the job are difficult, as one of her co-workers makes trouble for her. Jamie is called a "Jap" by one of the boys on his first day of school. Helen tells him that like his father, he needs to fight to be accepted, and the next day he does.

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When Your Body Has Been Rolled in Thorns (short story)

  • Short Stories
  • Grades 9-12, Adult
  • Fiction
  • Evils of racism, Facing reality, Loss of innocence, Will to survive
  • Widely available

Short story by Ferris Takahashi about a Japanese American family leaving a concentration camp to return to their old home in Los Angeles. Told from the perspective of a college educated Nisei husband and father of two young children, the story begins as they gather up their possessions and prepare to leave the camp. Yosh, a friend who had returned earlier and was able to reestablish his business, greets them at the train station. When they return to their home, they find it trashed and vandalized, with all the furniture gone. They also learn that the Buddhist temple in which they had stored other possessions had burned down. Yosh and his family offer to put them up until they can fix their house. Returning to look more closely at the house after dinner, the man and his Issei mother find racist graffiti. His mother assures him that they will rebound.

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Thin Wood Walls (book)

  • Books
  • Grades 7-8, Grades 9-12
  • Grades 7-8
  • Children's, Historical Fiction
  • Coming of age, Evils of racism, Loss of innocence, War – glory, necessity, pain, tragedy
  • Widely available

Children's book by David Patneaude that follows a Japanese American boy and his family as they are forcibly removed from their Washington state home and sent to the Tule Lake concentration camp during World War II.

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Half Kenneth (film)

  • Films and Video
  • Grades 6-8, Grades 9-12, Adult
  • Drama, Short
  • Coming of age, Loss of innocence, Family - blessing or curse
  • Limited availability

Short dramatic film about two mixed race brothers at Manzanar in 1945. A 21-minute short, Half Kenneth was made by Ken Ochiai as a master's thesis film at the American Film Institute.

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Dear Miye: Letters Home from Japan, 1939-1946 (book)

  • Books
  • Memoir, Historical nonfiction
  • Coming of age, Companionship as salvation, Desire to escape, Displacement, Family - blessing or curse, Female roles, Identity crisis, Immigrant experience, Isolation, Loss of innocence, Overcoming - fear, weakness, vice, Self-preservation, War - glory, necessity, pain, tragedy, Will to survive
  • Available

A collection of letters written by a young Nisei woman in Japan who becomes stuck there during World War II to her best friend who is still in California.

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The Children of Topaz: The Story of the Japanese-American Internment Camp (book)

  • Books
  • Grades 3-5
  • Grades 3-5
  • Children's
  • Companionship as salvation, Growing up – pain or pleasure, Loss of innocence
  • Widely available

Children's book by Michael O. Tunnell and George W. Chilcoat based on a class diary kept by a 3rd grade teacher at Topaz .

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Gardens of Hope (book)

  • Books
  • Grades 9-12, Adult
  • Historical Fiction
  • Companionship as salvation, Everlasting love, Evils of racism, Loss of innocence, Self-awareness
  • Widely available

Novel about the short but life changing romance between a young white man and a Nisei man during World War II. The story begins in 2004, as the elderly Jack Henry asks his nephew to drive him to the Manzanar National Historic Site. On the way, he tells the nephew the story of his connection to the place. As the story begins in Los Angeles the fall of 1942, Jack seems to have everything: a loving family, a smart and attractive fiancée, and good prospects for a career as a teacher. However as a closeted gay man, he is confused and unhappy. Drawn to Pershing Park downtown, he has a series of furtive sexual encounters with other men before meeting Hiro, a handsome young Nisei. Their affair is immediately different and deeper than the others. When the outbreak of war separates them, Jack impulsively decides to become a teacher at …

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Otoko (short story)

  • Short Stories
  • Grades 9-12, Adult
  • Historical Fiction
  • Disillusionment and dreams, Growing up – pain or pleasure, Immigrant experience, Loss of innocence, Role of men, Vulnerability of the meek
  • Widely available

Short story by Wakako Yamauchi centering on a Nisei brother and sister who recall their father and their family's prewar and wartime hardships while listening to Japanese folksongs. On the longest day of the year one summer, Kiyo visits his sister, the narrator, bringing a record of Japanese children's songs. The act of listening to the songs triggers memories of their early years. Once relatively prosperous, their fortunes turn dire quickly when their father loses his job. He becomes a tenant farmer, but can't make enough to support the family. Kiyo recalls a time when he went with his father to visit a friend, Kiyo thinks, to ask to borrow money. The narrator recalls working as a "school girl" with a white family for a few months, returning to find her family living in a tent, her little sister's teeth rotting, and her father suffering from a stomach ailment. Later, …

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Sushi (short story)

  • Short Stories
  • Grades 7-8, Grades 9-12, Adult
  • Loss of innocence, Power of the past, Coming of age
  • Limited availability

Short story by Rei Noguchi about a young Japanese American girl who learns about the wartime incarceration from an Issei woman neighbor. It is a cold New Year's Eve in Dover, New Jersey, and Maya Okano has been dispatched by her parents to return a plate to a woman they call Grandmother Okamoto. The older woman, who is making sushi for New Year's, is happy to see the girl and serves her tea. Maya tells Grandmother Okamoto that she doesn't like sushi or Japanese food in general, preferring "American" food. Grandmother Okamoto sends Maya into the bedroom to fetch a can of nori from the dresser; when she does, she sees a little shrine on the dresser and the photograph of a young man in military uniform in front of barracks. When Maya asks, Grandmother Okamoto tells her about her son, who was killed fighting (presumably in the 442nd Regimental …

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A Crossroad Called Manzanar (film)

  • Films and Video
  • Grades 6-8, Grades 9-12, Adult
  • Short, History
  • Growing up - pain or pleasure, Loss of innocence
  • No availability

Short dramatic film about two nine-year-old girls who are best friends—Aya Matsui and Penny Chan—in the final days before Aya's family will be forced to board busses for Manzanar . On what will be her final day of school, Penny—wearing the "Proud to Be Chinese" button than her mother pins on her every morning—comes to pick up Aya as usual. But after being harassed by white children on their way to school, they decide to spend the day playing in the fields and parks before heading home. Aya's family eats on the floor, the rest of their things packed or sold off. The next morning, the Matsuis report for their exile and are put on busses for Manzanar. Penny comes by their house, finding it empty and, shunned by the other kids, rides alone on the school bus to school.

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We the People: The Stage Production (film)

  • Films and Video
  • Grades 3-5, Grades 7-8, Grades 9-12, Adult
  • Documentary
  • Expression through art, Growing up – pain or pleasure, Loss of innocence, Power of tradition
  • Available

Short film that documents the performance of the elementary school age students of Jan Ken Po Gakko in Sacramento on July 20, 2000. The production is highlighted by a play performed by the students based on Mary Tsukamoto and Elizabeth Pinkerton's book We the People .

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Why is Preparing Fish a Political Act? (film)

  • Films and Video
  • Grades 9-12, Adult
  • Documentary, Biography
  • Convention and rebellion, Loss of innocence, Power of silence, Power of words, Role of women, Self-awareness
  • Available

Short documentary film by Russell Leong that profiles Sansei poet Janice Mirikitani . Mirikitani reads several of her poems (from the collections Awake in the River and Shedding Silence ) and talks about her grandmother's resourcefulness; her rejection of her Asian heritage as a young college student and her first husband and daughter; the impact of the Asian American Movement; and her involvement with Gilde Memorial Church and her second husband Cecil Williams. In the final segment of the film, Mirikitani talks about the impact of the Japanese American incarceration on her family and on the community as a whole and reads the poem "We, the Dangerous."

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