Through the Looking Glass Children's Book Reviews

Music For Alice

Music For Alice

Allen Say
Picture Book
For ages 7 to 10
Houghton Mifflin, 2004   ISBN: 978-0618311187

Alice and her husband Mark are happy in their new life living in Seattle Washington and are shocked when they hear that the Japanese forces have bombed Pearl Harbor in Hawaii. In a very short period of time the couple find themselves being forced to leave their home with only a pair of suitcases and they are sent to live in an "assembly center"  which just happens to be an old stockyard. Because there is now a war on, there is a great need for farm workers and Alice and Mark volunteer to work in the fields. Though they are they are allowed to work the couple are still not free, they are just "in a bigger prison" than they were before. They cannot help feeling however that anything must surely be better than being sent to an internment camp many miles away.

Through perseverance and hard work Alice and Mark turn their dreadful war experience into a thriving and growing farm where they grow gladioli for the gardening and flower markets. They have many successes and failures and yet, even in the bleakest of times, Alice never stops thinking and dreaming of her first love - her love of dancing. Even as she looks at the fields of flowers she imagines herself dancing in among the blooms.

This picture book not only gives the reader a picture of what it was like to be a Japanese American during WWII but it also paints a portrait of a woman who never let the bad times take away her hopes and dreams. At a time of life when many let their dreams go, Alice looks for her "music" and returns to her beloved world of dance.

Striking full page illustrations present the reader with snapshot like images from Alice's life. Spare and even slightly disturbing at times, each picture tells its own story and each one encourages the reader to pause as he or she looks into the faces on the pages.