A moving but never overwhelming look at Japan’s devastating 2011 earthquake.

When Japan is left in ruins by a massive earthquake, one child must navigate through fear to help the community.

Maya, half Japanese, half American, lives in a suburb a few miles outside of Tokyo. On March 11, 2011, a five-minute-long earthquake shudders through Japan, changing their lives forever. Aftershocks and tsunamis threaten to cause more devastation every moment. Maya’s family discovers they are luckier than many; they still have their home and their lives. But with each new tremble, Maya can’t help but panic. As whole areas are wiped out by the ocean, a nuclear plant is damaged, and the death toll continues to rise, the rest of Japan bands together to send relief to the hardest-hit region, in the northeast. Maya continues to feel hopeless and afraid, but her father tells her, “strengthen yourself,” then help others. Through small acts of kindness, Maya finds strength and discovers even little things can make a big difference. Narrated by Maya in free verse, this is an affecting account of Japan’s catastrophic earthquake and the days that surrounded it. The time signature often appears in red in the margins, allowing readers to grasp how long each day felt and how frequent and unpredictable aftershocks were. Occasionally shaky typesetting, along with the changing size and movement of the words on the page, adds to the overall impact and gravity of the story.

A moving but never overwhelming look at Japan’s devastating 2011 earthquake. (author’s note) (Historical fiction. 8-12)

Pub Date: June 30, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-4814-3789-9

Page Count: 304

Publisher: Caitlyn Dlouhy/Atheneum

Review Posted Online: April 7, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1, 2020


An emotional, much-needed historical graphic novel.

Sandy and his family, Japanese Canadians, experience hatred and incarceration during World War II.

Sandy Saito loves baseball, and the Vancouver Asahi ballplayers are his heroes. But when they lose in the 1941 semifinals, Sandy’s dad calls it a bad omen. Sure enough, in December 1941, Japan bombs Pearl Harbor in the U.S. The Canadian government begins to ban Japanese people from certain areas, moving them to “dormitories” and setting a curfew. Sandy wants to spend time with his father, but as a doctor, his dad is busy, often sneaking out past curfew to work. One night Papa is taken to “where he [is] needed most,” and the family is forced into an internment camp. Life at the camp isn’t easy, and even with some of the Asahi players playing ball there, it just isn’t the same. Trying to understand and find joy again, Sandy struggles with his new reality and relationship with his father. Based on the true experiences of Japanese Canadians and the Vancouver Asahi team, this graphic novel is a glimpse of how their lives were affected by WWII. The end is a bit abrupt, but it’s still an inspiring and sweet look at how baseball helped them through hardship. The illustrations are all in a sepia tone, giving it an antique look and conveying the emotions and struggles. None of the illustrations of their experiences are overly graphic, making it a good introduction to this upsetting topic for middle-grade readers.

An emotional, much-needed historical graphic novel. (afterword, further resources) (Graphic historical fiction. 9-12)

Pub Date: Oct. 5, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-5253-0334-0

Page Count: 112

Publisher: Kids Can

Review Posted Online: June 28, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2021


The three way chats, in which they are joined by other animals, about web spinning, themselves, other humans—are as often...

A successful juvenile by the beloved New Yorker writer portrays a farm episode with an imaginative twist that makes a poignant, humorous story of a pig, a spider and a little girl.

Young Fern Arable pleads for the life of runt piglet Wilbur and gets her father to sell him to a neighbor, Mr. Zuckerman. Daily, Fern visits the Zuckermans to sit and muse with Wilbur and with the clever pen spider Charlotte, who befriends him when he is lonely and downcast. At the news of Wilbur's forthcoming slaughter, campaigning Charlotte, to the astonishment of people for miles around, spins words in her web. "Some Pig" comes first. Then "Terrific"—then "Radiant". The last word, when Wilbur is about to win a show prize and Charlotte is about to die from building her egg sac, is "Humble". And as the wonderful Charlotte does die, the sadness is tempered by the promise of more spiders next spring.

The three way chats, in which they are joined by other animals, about web spinning, themselves, other humans—are as often informative as amusing, and the whole tenor of appealing wit and pathos will make fine entertainment for reading aloud, too.

Pub Date: Oct. 15, 1952

ISBN: 978-0-06-026385-0

Page Count: 192

Publisher: Harper/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: Sept. 14, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 1, 1952

Close Quickview