Dash by Kirby Larson (ARC provided by Net Galley, publication date this Tuesday, August 26). I was so excited to get advance approval to read this book this week, and it was worth the wait!
Dash is a middle grade historical fiction novel set during World War II. Based on the actual experiences of Mitsue Shiraishi, the story is told from the perspective of 11 year-old Mitsi and picks up right in the thick of it.
The story draws you in immediately, as Mitsi struggles to understand why her friends have started treating her differently, and any student can empathize with growing slights and the difficult dynamics of lunchroom seating. The broader context of the recent bombing of Pearl Harbor and peoples' reactions are introduced in flashback. (It might be helpful to preview some of the context of WWII for students who might need more background.)
The story gives a detailed picture of this regrettable time in US History, from the initial imprisonment of Japanese men to the deportation and relocation to internment camps of Japanese-American families. The horror is further compounded for Mitsi when she learns that her dear dog Dash will not be allowed to accompany them to the camp.
This book hits on so many issues of importance to late-elementary and middle school readers including issues with friends, rejection, sibling disagreements, and the power of connections with pets. This book will be a huge draw with fans of historical fiction but is also accessible and engaging enough to draw in fans of realistic fiction too. It would make a great Book Club selection for a whole class or small groups, as there is a lot of potential for discussion and conversations, especially in conjunction with a unit on World War II or Japanese Internment.
I will definitely be adding this book to my recent post on resources for teaching about Japanese Internment, and I look forward to sharing it with our US History teacher and all of you!