Through the Looking Glass Children's Book Reviews

The Tsunami Quilt: Grandfather’s Story

The Tsunami Quilt: Grandfather’s Story

Anthony D. Fredericks
Illustrator:  Tammy Yee 
Picture Book
For ages 6 to 8
Sleeping Bear Press, 2007   ISBN: 978-1585363131

When he was little a boy, Kimo and his grandfather shared many good times. Every spring Kimo's grandmother would make a special lei for his grandfather to wear, and then the two of them would go to Laupahoehoe Point, where the boy and his grandfather would walk along the ocean and look at an old marble monument. Grandfather would place the lei on the monument and he would look sadly out to sea.

Soon after the Kimo had his ninth birthday, his grandfather died and Kimo's father decided that it was time to tell his son what those visits to the monument were all about. Kimo was told how, long ago, before he was born, there used to be a school near where the monument now stood. One April day, when Grandfather was a student at that school, the children saw that the water in the cove below the school had disappeared. It had simply rolled out to the vast ocean beyond. Of course most of the students went down to the cove to investigate, including Grandfather's little brother. Then the ocean began to roll back in. It receded once more, and then surged back. Then a third wave poured in and this time the wave was enormous, "as high as the lighthouse on the point." This tsunami wave destroyed everything in its path. Because the boy's grandfather was above the beach, he was able to get to safety, but many people were not so lucky, including Grandfather's little brother.

Kimo's father then took his son to the Pacific Tsunami Museum and there the boy saw a quilt which was made as a memorial to the twenty four students and faculty who lost their lives on April 1st, 1946, when a tsunami hit Laupahoehoe Point, on the Big Island of Hawaii. 

As they read this story, young readers will see how traditions and stories are handed down through the generations, and how knowing about the past can connect us to our own family histories. In this case the grandson learns about his grandfather's childhood, and because he understands what happened he will continue to remember and honor the memory of those who died in that long ago tsunami.