A Scarf for Keiko
It’s 1942. Sam’s class is knitting socks for soldiers and Sam is a terrible knitter. Keiko is a good knitter, but some kids at school don’t want anything to do with her because the Japanese have bombed Pearl Harbor and her family is Japanese American. When Keiko’s family is forced to move to a camp for Japanese Americans, can Sam find a way to demonstrate his friendship?
|Interest Level||Kindergarten - Grade 4|
|Reading Level||Grade 2|
|Genre||Fiction, Picture Books|
|Publisher||Lerner Publishing Group|
|Imprint||Kar-Ben Publishing ™, Lerner Digital ™|
|Number of Pages||32|
|Graphics||1-color illustrations, Full-color illustrations|
|Dimensions||9.25 x 11|
|Features||Author/Illustrator biography, Author/Illustrator note, and Reviewed|
The Horn Book Magazine
“In this WWII home front–set picture book, a boy’s class is knitting socks for U.S. soldiers overseas, though Sam, the frustrated protagonist, is skilled only at tangling his wool into knots. Keiko, an expert knitter, is his classmate and neighbor; she’s been ostracized ‘since President Roosevelt had declared war on Japan in December.’ Keiko repeatedly extends kindnesses to Sam, but he ignores her despite the fact that his older brother, Mike, off fighting in the war, was consistently friendly to her. Before Keiko’s family is sent to an internment camp, she leaves Sam a note, her bike, and a pair of hand-knitted socks for Sam to send
to Mike, with a note telling Mike to ‘come home safely.’ With a shift to a slower narrative pace—and with Malaspina’s text mimicking the rhythm of the knitting needles (‘Click. Clack. Click. Clack’)—Sam determinedly makes a scarf to mail to Keiko, the phrase come home safely taking on a new meaning for him. Many of the
illustrations, rendered in cool browns, grays, and blues, are framed by a border, making the art look like vintage photographs, an apt choice for this work of historical fiction. Appended with an author’s note about Los Angeles’s Boyle Heights and Little Tokyo neighborhoods (‘where Jews and Japanese Americans lived side
by side and attended schools together in the early decades of the 20th Century’); photos from the time period; and information about internment camps, including the U.S. government’s later acknowledgment of the ‘grave injustice’ of the camps.”―The Horn Book Magazine
Midwest Book Review
“It’s 1942 and America is at war with the Empire of Japan. Sam’s elementary school class is knitting socks for soldiers and Sam is a terrible knitter. Keiko is a good knitter, but some kids at school don’t want anything to do with her because the Japanese have bombed Pearl Harbor and her family is Japanese American. When Keiko’s family is forced to move to a camp for Japanese Americans, can Sam find a way to demonstrate his friendship? A deftly crafted picture book for children ages 5-10 drawing upon one of America’s most egregious examples of racial discrimination in a time of war, ‘A Scarf for Keido’ is unreservedly recommended for its ultimately inspiring message of overcoming that discrimination. Of special note is the Author’s Note on the subject of what happened to Japanese Americans in World War II. While very highly and unreservedly recommended for family, elementary school, and community library picture book collections, it should be noted for personal reading lists that ‘A Scarf for Keiko’ is also available in a paperback edition (9781541521650, $7.99) and in a digital book format (Kindle, $7.59).”―Midwest Book Review
“An act of kindness during World War II still resonates today as a boy reaches out to a girl whom the government does not consider a suitable or loyal American citizen. The United States has entered World War II and Sam’s class in Los Angeles is knitting socks for soldiers. Unfortunately, Sam cannot get his knitting needles to work properly as he tries to knit for his older brother, who is fighting overseas. Frustrated, he rejects an offer of help from his neighbor and classmate, Keiko, a girl of Japanese descent. Keiko is taunted and her father’s flower store is vandalized, and then the family is sent to an internment camp. Sam and his parents are sympathetic—as Jews they understand persecution—and his mother offers to keep safe Keiko’s mother’s treasured tea service. When Keiko leaves her bike with Sam, she includes knitted socks for Sam’s brother. It is then—finally—that Sam comes up with a most neighborly gesture: He will knit a scarf for Keiko because desert nights can be cold. Carefully, stitch by stitch, he finishes his project. The illustrations, in browns, greys, and reds, focus on the faces of the characters and express their frustrations, fears, and concerns. The author’s note briefly explains both President Roosevelt’s 1942 Executive Order and the 1988 Civil Liberties Act. A gentle and accessible story of tolerance during a war overflowing with racial and ethnic intolerance.―Kirkus Reviews
Illustrator: Merrilee Liddiard
Merrilee Liddiard grew up in a home filled with delightful artistic chaos and ample creativity. She is known for her love of kids’ art design, toys and DIY crafts. Merrilee loves to travel, wander museums, sew, thrift, read and nap.
Author: Ann Malaspina
Ann Malaspina has written many books for children, including Touch the Sky: Alice Coachman, Olympic High Jumper and Finding Lincoln. She lives in New Jersey with her husband and two sons.