cover image So Far from the Sea

So Far from the Sea

Eve Bunting. Clarion Books, $16 (32pp) ISBN 978-0-395-72095-0

Bunting's (Smoky Night) eloquent yet spare narrative introduces nine-year-old Laura, who recounts her family's 1972 visit to the site of the former Manzanar War Relocation Camp in eastern California. Thirty years earlier, her father and his parents were interned there, along with 10,000 other Japanese Americans. Soon to move to Boston, Laura, her younger brother and parents pay a final visit to the grave of the children's grandfather, a tuna fisherman robbed of his boat, home and dignity when the U.S. government sent his family to this remote camp, far from the sea he loved. Thoughtful and sympathetic, Laura has brought a chillingly ironic offering for the ancestor she never knew. It is the neckerchief from her father's Cub Scout uniform, which her grandfather had insisted his son wear on the day soldiers arrived at their home to transport them to the camp: ""That way they will know you are a true American and they will not take you."" Soentpiet's (More Than Anything Else) portrait of the uniformed boy respectfully saluting the soldiers as his mournful parents embrace is only one of numerous wrenching images that will haunt readers long after the last page is turned. Rendered with striking clarity, the artist's watercolors recreate two vastly different settings, evoking the tense 1940s scenarios in black and white and the serene yet wistful 1970s setting in bright color. An exceptionally effective collaboration. Ages 5-9. (Apr.)