“Dottie is the reason I am starting this scrapbook. She left today, and I don’t know when she’ll return. The Masuokas and all the other Japanese families have been ‘relocated’ (Mother says ‘kidnapped’) until the war is over. And not just here in the Seattle area. In all of Washington! California and Oregon, too. I wonder, will this spread to all forty-eight states?
Dottie promised to write, and I promised to write back. I also promised myself one more thing: I’d keep a record of everything that goes on while Dottie’s away and share it with her when she returns.
I hope, for our sake, this turns out to be a very short scrapbook.” (6)
Fourteen-year-old Louise Margaret Krueger lives in Seattle with her parents and older brother. Her friend Dottie used to live nearby, until World War II reached the states and her family was sent to live in a relocation camp. Louise is disappointed, but not nearly as much as Dottie is, who must give up her home, her school, and her dog. Filled with letters and mementos that Louise plans to share with Dottie upon her return, readers get a glimpse of everyday life during World War II. But when Dottie stops writing back to Louise, has their friendship disappeared just like Dottie and her family?
I’ll be quite honest, I’ve seen this book in both children’s and young adult collections in the library, and I think it’s intended and geared towards the younger age group. If you look at it as a 3rd through 5th grade read, then I think it’s successful in its construction. I can’t really see teens picking it up, because the design is geared towards that younger audience. I keep comparing it to the Amelia series by Marissa Moss, as it’s a combination of journal and scrapbook.
The realia scattered throughout the book are a nice touch, and really bring the story to life. The paper “taped” into the scrapbook is torn, wrinkled, and worn, and even the tape is crumpled and not perfect. Most artists don’t pay that much detail to those extras, and Shula Klinger did a marvelous job. I think the most impressive aspects of the book are the details of Louise’s and Dottie’s lives and the culture weaved into Dottie’s correspondence. The author, Beverly Patt, states on the back cover that she got the ideas from bedtime stories her mother told her, and that’s probably why the book reads so true. Little details like writing letters for the wounded soldiers and Dottie’s seiza lessons really make it feel like we are looking in on a pair of friends from that time period. A good introduction for children to the concept of internment camps and World War II attitudes, fears, and events.