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Browse > Theme > Optimism – power or folly

13 articles

Flowers from Mariko (book)

  • Books
  • Grades 1-2, Grades 3-5
  • Grades 3-5
  • Children's, Historical Fiction
  • Growing up – pain or pleasure, Heartbreak of betrayal, Optimism – power or folly, Overcoming – fear, weakness, vice, Working class struggles
  • Widely available

Picture book for children about a Japanese American family's World War II incarceration and difficulties in restarting their lives after the war, told from the perspective of a young girl of about nine of ten. Mariko, her little sister Emi, and their parents live in Los Angeles before the war, where their father works as a gardener. When they are forced to leave, he leaves his gardening truck and equipment with their landlord. When Japanese Americans are allowed to return to the West Coast in 1945, the family makes plans to return. However their father finds that his truck and equipment have been sold, and the former landlord is nowhere to be found. The family is forced to live in a government-run trailer park upon their return, and her father is unable to find work. One day, he finds some old equipment in the trash, along with some flower seeds. …

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The Man with the Bulging Pockets (short story)

  • Short Stories
  • Grades 9-12, Adult
  • Fiction
  • Fulfillment, Greed as downfall, Optimism – power or folly, Wisdom of experience
  • Widely available

Short story by Toshio Mori centering on an old man at Tanforan who becomes enormously popular with children by passing out a seemingly limitless supply of candy to them on his daily walks around the camp. His actions and popularity inspire jealousy in another old man, who also begins passing out candy, while spreading bad stories about the first old man. The story originally appeared in the 1944 holiday edition of The Pacific Citizen and was republished in Mori's 1979 short story collection The Chauvinist and Other Stories and in slightly different from, as a part of his 1978 novel Woman from Hiroshima .

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The Long Journey and the Short Ride (short story)

  • Short Stories
  • Grades 9-12, Adult
  • Fiction
  • Darkness and light, Motherhood, Optimism – power or folly, Reunion
  • Available

Seemingly autobiographical story by Toshio Mori about the author and his brother, a paralyzed veteran of the 442nd Regimental Combat Team , recalling the latter's visit to Topaz prior to shipping out for combat in Europe. The author and his mother get a pass to leave Topaz for the first time since they had arrived in order to see the brother off at the train station. Their apprehensions about being outside the camp are eased by a white family—who had also just seen a son off to war—who offer them a ride to town. Shifting back to the present of the story, the author notes the successful recovery that his brother has made since the war and both brothers lament that neither of their parents lived to see that recovery. The same incident is the basis for another story Mori had written in 1943 titled " The Travelers ." "The …

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My Name Is Yoshiko (book)

  • Books
  • Grades 7-8, Grades 9-12, Adult
  • Memoir
  • Names – power and significance, Optimism – power or folly, Role of women, Working class struggles
  • Available

Memoir of an ordinary Nisei woman that includes her wartime incarceration in American concentration camps. Yoshiko Kawaguchi (born in 1921) was the eldest daughter in a farm family in Downey, California. After attending sewing school, World War II hits and the family ends up in the horse stalls of Santa Anita , then in the Rohwer , Arkansas, concentration camp. Resettling in Michigan, she eventually gets a job at a fancy restaurant. She meets and marries a Nisei from Kaua'i and settles in Chicago, where her sisters and parents also eventually settle. Her husband becomes a mail carrier, and they adopt a girl. Later, they move to back to Downey and retire in Kaua'i.

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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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A Session at Tak's Place (short story)

  • Short Stories
  • Adult
  • Communication – verbal and nonverbal, Companionship as salvation, Importance of community, Optimism – power or folly
  • Widely available

Short story by Manzen (Tom Arima) about four old Nisei men discussing the future of the Japanese American community and the Japanese American Citizens League (JACL). Tak, a 65-year-old retiree, wakes up one morning with an uneasy feeling after a late night JACL meeting the previous evening. His close friend Nobe, a JACL lifer, drops by to talk about the meeting, and they are soon joined by two more friends, Joe and Mits. The four talk about the role they and the JACL should take in the implementation of the recently passed Civil Liberties Act of 1988 , what to make of a recent JACL resolution to investigate the organization's actions regarding the so-called " No-No Boys ," and the role of the JACL. After a spirited discussion, Tak feels much better and is grateful for the men's friendship.

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The Red Tricycle (short story)

  • Short Stories
  • Grades 9-12, Adult
  • Evils of racism, Injustice, Optimism – power or folly
  • Available

The scene as a Nikkei family—a mother with her two daughters and four-year-old son Tommy—make the last preparations at their farmhouse before a truck comes to take them to the train station that will deliver them to a concentration camp. Their spirits are temporarily buoyed by a unexpected kind act by one of the soldiers who comes for them.

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The Travelers (short story)

  • Short Stories
  • Grades 9-12, Adult
  • Fiction
  • Desire to escape, Optimism – power or folly, Power of silence
  • Widely available

Short story by Toshio Mori centering on two groups of inmates as they leave Topaz . One group of nine are those leaving the camp permanently to " resettle " in areas outside the restricted area of the West Coast; the other group consists of those who are visiting town briefly to shop or to see off relatives before returning to the camp. Those leaving for good includes a soldier leaving for the battlefront and being seen off by his mother, as well as those leaving for jobs in cities such as New York and Chicago . As the resettlers exchange information about their destinations, the soldier is drawn to an attractive young woman heading to Chicago, but does not speak to her. After the train leaves, a white family offers a ride to town to the mother of the soldier. "The Travelers" originally appeared in the Topaz literary publication …

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To Be Takei (film)

  • Films and Video
  • Grades 9-12, Adult
  • Documentary
  • Empowerment, Everlasting love, Injustice, Optimism – power or folly, Rights - individual or societal
  • Widely available

Documentary film that profiles actor George Takei and his husband and manager Brad Takei, capturing both their pasts and their daily lives today.

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Ralph Story's Los Angeles: Little Tokyo (film)

  • Films and Video
  • Grades 9-12, Adult
  • Documentary
  • Importance of community, Optimism – power or folly, Self-reliance, Social mobility
  • No availability

Episode of the popular 1960s weekly television show featuring the Little Tokyo area of Los Angeles. Filmed largely in Little Tokyo, the program covers both the history of the neighborhood and its then current status and includes a discussion of the wartime incarceration of its population.

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Uncle Yozo (short story)

  • Short Stories
  • Grades 7-8, Grades 9-12, Adult
  • Memoir
  • Disillusionment and dreams, Importance of community, Optimism – power or folly
  • No availability

Comical story by Ted Tajima about an Issei man at an unspecified concentration camp who enlivens the first Christmas in camp by elaborately playing Santa. A regular contributor of stories to the Rafu Shimpo holiday edition, Tajima taught at Alhambra High for 35 years and led their acclaimed journalism program.

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Mitsugi's Christmas (short story)

  • Short Stories
  • Grades 9-12, Adult
  • Fiction
  • Family – blessing or curse, Forgiveness, Love and sacrifice, Optimism – power or folly
  • No availability

Short story by Jennifer "Emiko" Kuida about Mitsugi Yamamoto, an elderly widower at the Keiro Retirement Home in Los Angeles who waits to hear from his busy lawyer daughter and his grandchildren on Christmas Day. Julia, a younger Yonsei volunteer nurse, keeps him company sometimes and listens to his stories of the past, particularly his time at Seabrook Farms, New Jersey , where he and his wife Sumi moved after leaving Manzanar .

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The Music Man of Manzanar (film)

  • Films and Video
  • Grades 9-12, Adult
  • Documentary
  • Expression through art, Optimism – power or folly, Power of the past
  • Widely available

A short documentary film by Brian Tadashi Maeda about Lou Frizzell, who came to the World War II American concentration camp at Manzanar to teach drama and music to the Japanese American high school students who were imprisoned there. The film includes interviews with his former students, who were inspired by Frizell's ability to help the students temporarily forget their circumstances and lose themselves to the beauty and power of music and the joy of being young. The film also includes re-enactments of Manzanar High students performing parts of Frizzell's operetta Loud and Clear . The second half of the film turns its attention to Arnold Maeda, the filmmaker's older brother and a student of Frizzell's who performed in Loud and Clear ; we attend a 2002 ceremony at Santa Monica High School in which Maeda and other Japanese American students receive the diplomas they were denied by the mass …

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