- May 26 & 27 - All libraries CLOSED for Memorial Day
The story of Sylvia & Aki is based on true events in the lives of two young American girls whose paths cross at the start of World War II. In alternating chapters we learn how Sylvia Mendez and Aki Munemitsu meet and how their lives are affected by World War II.
Sylvia has just moved to Westminster, CA. Her family is leasing a house and farm land from a recently relocated Japanese-American family. Sylvia and her brothers are looking forward to attending the nearby Westminster School, but they’ve just been told they must attend Hoover school, the school for children from Mexican families. The conditions at Hoover lead Sylvia’s father to file a lawsuit, which turns into a landmark court case eliminating the “separate but equal” doctrine as it applies to all schools in California.
Everyone in Aki’s family is a loyal American, but following the attack on Pearl Harbor, the attitude of Americans toward their Japanese-American neighbors change. Soon Aki, her mother and older brother are sent to an internment camp in the Arizona desert called Poston. Her father is imprisoned elsewhere since he is considered a “security risk.” It is a comfort for Aki’s family knowing that the Mendez family is taking good care of their land and home, but Aki desperately misses her home and her friends at Westminster School.
Winifred Conkling interviewed both Sylvia and Aki for this book. She also provides an extensive bibliography listing relevant materials and websites. The Afterward includes historical information concerning the impact of both the internment of Japanese Americans and the Mendez lawsuit.
Here are two items that you must add to your To Do list. Come to the King Library before July 5 to see the exhibit that is currently on the second floor. The exhibit is called From Our Land and celebrates Japanese American farmers from the 1900s until they were forced to leave for internment camps during World War II.
An excellent book by Jamie Ford is called Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet. It is a novel that describes a family in Seattle in 1942 who were forced to take only what they could carry to live temporarily in a barn in southern Washington before being relocated to a camp for 10,000 people in southern Idaho. It tells how the 12-year-old daughter has to say goodbye to a Chinese boy who makes a promise that he will wait for her until the war ends. The book is available in Chinese, electronic format, large print, and audio.
Together, both the exhibit and the book give a picture of a difficult time in our country's history.