Monday, September 9, 2013

Marvelous Middle Grade Monday - Cherry Blossom Winter

Today’s Pick: Cherry Blossom Winter by Jennifer Maruno

Published by Dundurn Press, 2012

From Amazon:

Ten-year-old Michiko wants to be proud of her Japanese heritage but can't be. After the bombing of Pearl Harbor, her family's possessions are confiscated and they are forced into deprivation in a small, insular community. The men are sent to work on the railway, so the women and children are left to make the trip on their own.

After a former Asahi baseball star becomes her new teacher, life gets better. Baseball fever hits town, and when Michiko challenges the adults to a game with her class, the whole town turns out.

Then the government announces that they must move once again. But they can't think of relocating with a new baby coming, even with the offer of free passage to Japan. Michiko pretends to be her mother and writes to get a job for her father on a farm in Ontario. When he is accepted, they again pack their belongings and head to a new life in Ontario.

My Take:

It was interesting to learn about the life of Japanese-Canadians during the Second World War, especially through Michiko’s eyes. This is a quiet novel but I liked the sense of family and the details about life in a different time and place. This book is the second in a series of three about Michiko’s life. After finding this second book at the library, now I'd like to read the first one!

I admired the writing style, especially the way the author wove in memories to develop the characters and background for the story. Details are carefully chosen to enhance and not overwhelm the writing.

Opening Line:

“Michiko,” her mother called up the back staircase, “please come down.”

Favourite quotes:

“Their whole life changed because of the stupid war. It made her burn with indignation when she thought about it.”

“There seemed to be hope in Kiko’s words but Michiko didn’t believe her. The chances of her family leaving town were as slim as a ghost.”

“Michiko carried the spade. She stepped across the grass, careful not to tread on anyone’s bones.”

Other Info:

Jennifer Maruno started writing in grade 3, creating stories for a make believe Daily Planet newspaper and entering writing contests. She won a tour of a pickle factory and a year supply of pickles!

She lives near Toronto and used to be a school principal. As a teacher and principal, she created curriculum materials for teaching math using literature. Now she writes full time. The idea for her story came from the memories and photographs of her mother-in-law.

On her website, Jennifer Maruno has some wonderful advice for writers: “you have to learn the craft - not a formula”. She also suggests “you have to hang out with writers - they are the only ones in the world that really understand what you do”.

Other Books Include:

Kid Soldier


When the Cherry Blossoms Fell

War Bird


For more info, visit Jennifer Maruno’swebsite.


Marvelous Middle Grade Monday was dreamed up by the incredible Shannon Messenger. Visit her blog for an up-to-date list of all the bloggers who are participating and posting about middle grade books today!



  1. This sounds interesting. And I love the title. Thanks for sharing it.

  2. I love books that teach us to walk in another's shoes. Sounds like this one is that type of book.

  3. Wow, Andrea! I hadn't heard of this book but it sounds like something I would love. Reminds me a little of A Diamond in the Desert, but from a girl's POV.


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