cover image Journey


Sheila Hamanaka, S. Hamanaka. Scholastic, $19.95 (0pp) ISBN 978-0-531-05849-7

The Journey is based on Hamanaka's extraordinary 25-foot mural that depicts the experiences of Japanese Americans with emphasis upon the prejudice and injustice that culminated in their incarceration during World War II. Close-ups of the mural--along with a final panoramic view of its five panels--are accompanied by the author's impassioned text, which includes mention of her grandfather's death in one of America's Japanese concentration camps. The Journey is a significant book not only because it elucidates an episode in American history that has long needed exposure, but also because of Hamanaka's powerful and moving paintings. Her illustrations of historical details, the symbols from Japanese culture and especially the unforgettable faces are brilliantly executed. Unfortunately, some portions of the text present a confusing amalgam of history, art catalogue description and biography. The book's organization seems almost haphazard: buried in the preface, e.g., are definitions of Japanese words without which the reader cannot fully decipher the text. Though flawed, the work is a dramatic and visually arresting exploration of an important topic. Ages 10-up. (Apr.)