Anthony Fredericks, illustrated by Tammy Yee
The Tsunami Quilt: Grandfather's Story (Tales of Young Americans Series)
Sleeping Bear Press, 2007
In award-winning writer Anthony Fredericks' The Tsunami Quilt, a new installment in Sleeping Bear's 'Tales of Young Americans Series', the story of the tragic 1946 Hawaii tsunami is interwoven with a familiar theme: the close relationship between a child and a grandparent.
Nine-year-old Kimo always accompanied his grandfather on his annual silent pilgrimage to place a lei of plumeria blossoms at the tsunami monument in Hilo. But now his grandfather has died, and Kimo's father explains the reason for the monument and his grandfather's deep connection to it.
The tsunami took the lives of 24 students and teachers at his grandfather's school, including his grandfather's younger brother, then 9 years old. Yee's pictures keep pace with the building momentum of the killer wave and the heart-wrenching fate of the schoolchildren. Frederick uses stark and possibly upsetting language to describe the tsunami's power: children's "cries and screams" as they are being "sucked into the ocean".
To help Kimo learn more about the event that affected his grandfather's life so profoundly, Kimo's father takes him to the Pacific Tsunami Museum, where they view the commemorative quilt honoring the lives of those lost. While the depiction of the quilt could be more vivid, the narrative offers a rich opportunity to point out to young readers the power and importance of monuments, statues, and other public memorials, including examples in their own communities.
The book deals with the difficult themes of loss within families and the devastating sadness of the death of innocent children in natural disasters. Some children may recall the 2004 Indian Ocean Tsunami that took thousands of lives, giving adults an opportunity to talk honestly with them about such disasters. The Author's Note at the end answers many questions children might have about tsunamis.
Solemnly conveying the fragility of life, Grandfather used to remind Kimo, "The ocean is both friend and foe. It gives, but it also takes"a truth folded into the story's lasting and positive message about the power of collective memory.
Kristen O. Daniel