cover image The Bracelet

The Bracelet

Yoshiko Uchida. Philomel Books, $17.99 (32pp) ISBN 978-0-399-22503-1

The haunting immediacy of this moving tale may derive from its roots in Uchida's ( A Jar of Dreams ; The Best Bad Thing ) own childhood experiences--the author was interned in camps for Japanese Americans during WW II. Originally published as a short story, the book opens as Emi, her mother and sister prepare to leave their California home for a new residence: a racetrack that has been turned into a prison camp. Emi's best friend brings her a bracelet as a parting gift. Though Emi vows she will never take it off, the gold chain slips off her wrist as the girl helps clean out the filthy, abandoned stable that will serve as the family's ``apartment.'' After searching for it in vain, Emi eventually realizes that she does not need the bracelet to remember her friend, just as she does not need a photo to remember her father (who has been sent to a prisoner-of-war camp because he worked for a Japanese company); in her mother's words, such important parts of our lives ``we carry in our hearts and take with us no matter where we are sent.'' Yardley's ( The Red Ball ) hushed, realistic paintings add to the poignancy of Uchida's narrative, and help to underscore the absurdity and injustice suffered by Japanese American families such as Emi's. Ages 4-8. (Oct.)