Jennifer Maruno is a long-time educator. Her debut novel, When the Cherry Blossoms Fell, was shortlisted for the Hackmatack Award and the Pacific Northwest Library Association Young Readers Choice Award. She is also the author of Warbird, Cherry Blossom Winter, Kid Soldier, and Totem. She lives in Burlington, Ontario.
Cherry Blossom Winter
After being outcast to a small community, 10-year-old Michikoâ€™s life gets better when a former baseball star becomes her teacher. Second book in the Cherry Blossom Books series.
Ten-year-old Michiko wants to be proud of her Japanese heritage but canâ€™t be. After the bombing of Pearl Harbor, her familyâ€™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 canâ€™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.
Cherry Blossom Winter is a book about the deep roots of traditions, core family values, and successful relationships, as much as it is about a governmentâ€™s betrayal of a people who helped to build a province, and Michiko is a likeable character readers will be happy to follow, wherever she goes. A satisfying read.
Employing a cast of charming characters and highlighting positive elements such as baseball, community gardens, fundraising bazaars, and family weddings, Maruno brings to life this tragic part of Canadian history while showing that, among the poverty and loss experienced by the internees, strong communities were still able to grow.
Maruno has created a gentle novel that adds to our Canadian story.