Dash Review

dashDash by Kirby Larson

Scholastic Press, 2014. 978-0545416351

Synopsis: The events of Pearl Harbor have changed lots of things about Mitsi Kashino’s life: her two best friends no longer talk to her, she’s getting nasty notes in her desk, and everyone is treating her like an outsider. She never expected to be moved to an internment camp or to be separated from her dog, Dash. When she and her family are forced from their home, Mitsi is forced to leave Dash with a friendly neighbor, who promises to take care of Dash is Mitsi’s absence. Will they be reunited, or will the war separate Mitsi from her animal companion as well?

Why I picked it up: I have two dogs of my own and I can’t imagine moving and not being able to take them with me.

Why I finished it: World War II is a much written about topic in world history, partially because so many of the events that happened away from the actual fighting had a lot to do with discrimination – namely the Jews in Europe and the Japanese in America. I remember a story my grandfather told me about a young Japanese American boy he knew that was taken to an internment camp and never heard from again, and there are days when he would remember the boy and wonder what happened to him. Larson has managed to capture the confusion, the heartbreak, and the uncertainty that surrounded the Japanese-American internment through the voice of a young fifth-grade girl who desperately wants to see things return to normal. Mitsi has a deep affection for her family and for her dog, who becomes her only friend after her other school classmates have alienated her. She struggles with doing the right thing, but it is her amazing courage and inner strength that keeps her going and endears her to the reader. Larson is also able to use her writing to put us in the moment and give a relatable quality to a situation most readers will find a little foreign. It’s a heart-breaking story about the human spirit and the power of friendship that will appeal to history buffs and dog lovers alike.

Other related materials: Duke by Kirby Larson, The Moved-Outers by Florence Crannell Means; A Diamond in the Desert by Kathryn Fitzmaurice; Imprisoned: The Betrayal of Japanese Americans during World War II by Martin W. Sandler; The Japanese American Internment: An Interactive History Adventure by Rachael Hanel; How Did This Happen Here?: Japanese Internment Camps by Leni Donlan; If You’re Reading This by Trent Reedy; Brown Girl Dreaming by Jacqueline Woodson; A Jar of Dreams by Yoshiko Uchida; A Step from Heaven by An Na; Dragonwings by Laurence Yep; Where the Mountain Meets the Moon by Grace Lin

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