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Notes From a Children's Librarian: On Books About Displacement

Book Cover Mr Hiroshi's Garden

Our Children's Librarian columnist Julie Booker brings us a new view from the stacks every month.

I read Mr. Hiroshi’s Garden, by Maxine Trottier, aloud to a group of nine-year-olds. As the final image settled, a boy quietly said, “I want to cry.” The full-circle ending obviously did the trick. Set in British Columbia during World War II, this narrative connects a little girl with her Japanese neighbour who’s building a rock garden in his backyard. One day he and his family are taken away to an internment camp. (The Author’s note at the back is useful in setting up the story.)

This is the first of five stellar personal narratives which happen to share a theme of displacement. And, if the reader’s paying attention, these are stories that teach kids how to write.

Migrant, also by Trottier, is the tale of Anna and her family arriving from Mexico to farm. It’s the only book mentioned here not told in the first person, but it’s Trottier’s use of metaphor and simile, capturing Anna’s transitory, sometimes difficult, existence that make it …

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