My Friend the Enemy Yearling ©2007
J. B. Cheaney 272 pages
Summary: Little Hazel is mad. She is mad at the war, and she is mad at the Japanese for ruining her birthday. She thinks it is their fault that no one has time for her, and her closest friend and brother are leaving to join the army. At school, she does not belong anywhere; the girls are too girly, and the boys are too irritating. Hazel has plenty of time to go off on her own and watch the skies over Mount Hood for enemy spy planes, a promise she made when her brother left for the army. Though Hazel does not like the Japanese, she finds herself in the most surprising friendship. A friendship with Sogoji, a Japanese boy.
Hazel Anderson is mad at the Japanese because they bombed Pearl Harbor on her birthday. She has been on the lookout for enemy spy planes ever since. She watches the skies over Mount Hood and records her findings in her observation notebook. Throughout her journey, she befriends a Japanese boy who has been hiding at her neighbors house.
Sogoji, a 15-year-old, Japanese orphan, who is hiding out at the Lanski's home trying to avoid being sent to an internment camp. He was born in America, and is eager to help Hazel with the war effort.
Personal Reflection: J.B. Cheaney does a phenomenal job using imagery and suspense to create a vivid picture in the reader's mind. For those who enjoy history, this is a great choice. Those who are not quite as interested in history as they are other subject areas will find this book entertaining and informative. Seeing the concerns about the Japanese from different perspectives adds to the diversity present in the novel.
Families and Social Structures
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1. After reading My Friend the Enemy, do you believe Hazel is the only citizen mad at the Japanese? Why or why not?
2. Do you believe the treatment of the Japanese in internment camps are good values to bestow on Americans? How do you think the Japanese felt?
3. Mr. and Mrs. Lanski hid Sogogi in there home, what would you do with Sogoji if you lived during this time?