Award-winning author Kirby Larson has written a number of books with dogs as the central character, her most recent one was about a family’s German Shepherd during World War II. Dash is about another family dog, this one belonging to a Japanese-American girl whose family is sent to an internment camp.
In Dash, life changes for fifth grader Mitsi Kashino and her family after the bombing of Pearl Harbor. Americans of Japanese ancestry are bullied, ostracized, and forced to relocate to internment camps like Camp Harmony (the former state fairgrounds). The living conditions are sparse – straw-filled mattresses, outdoor latrines, no privacy, and meals in a mess hall. A friendly neighbor agrees to take care of Dash because pets are not allowed, but how long will that be?
Mitsi writes a letter to General DeWitt for permission to keep her dog at camp, but permission is denied. Mitsi and Dash stay in touch through letters, while they are separated. Just when the family begins to adjust to life at Camp Harmony, they are moved to a camp in Idaho and begin the process all over again. Will they ever see Dash again?
Larson pens this companion book to Duke, set in the same time period: World War II. She excels at creating a well-written historical novel that readers will enjoy, despite the fact that the event in American history was deplorable. Based on a true event (the letter to General DeWitt was written by Mitsue Shiraishi whose dog stayed behind when her family was sent to an internment camp), Dash conveys patriotism and bravery in the midst of trying circumstances.
Recommended for public and school libraries.
Carol R. Gehringer
—reprinted with permission, Christian Library Journal, 2015.