New York Times Best Selling Author

Red Berries, White Clouds, Blue Sky

Tomi Itano,12, is a second-generation Japanese American who lives in California with her family on their strawberry farm. Although her parents came from Japan and her grandparents still live there, Tomi considers herself an American. She doesn’t speak Japanese and has never been to Japan.

But everything changes after the Japanese attack Pearl Harbor in 1941. “No Japs allowed” signs hang in store windows and Tomi’s family is ostracized. Things get worse. Suspected as a spy, Tomi’s father is taken away. The rest of the Itano family is sent to an internment camp in Colorado. Many other Japanese American families face a similar fate.

Tomi becomes bitter, wondering how her country could treat her and her family like the enemy. What does she need to do to prove she is an honorable American? Sandra Dallas shines a light on a dark period of American history in this story of a young Japanese American girl caught up in the prejudices and suspicions of World War II.

Author’s Note

Several years ago, I wrote Tallgrass, a novel set in a World War II Japanese relocation camp in Southeastern Colorado. At the time I wasn’t comfortable writing the book from a Japanese point of view. So the protagonist is a Caucasian farm girl living adjacent to the Tallgrass camp. But when my editor at Sleeping Bear Press suggested I write a young reader book about a girl’s experience in a resettlement camp, I realized the story had to be told from the standpoint of a Japanese girl. That may have been presumptuous of me since I’m not Japanese. But I do remember the challenges and moods and questionings of being a twelve-year-old girl, so I believed I could get into the head of my character, Tomi Itano.
Red Berries, White Clouds, Blue Skies is set in the same Tallgrass camp, which is really Amache, located near Granada, Colorado. I chose Tallgrass so that I could give a couple of characters from the earlier book walk-on roles in Red Berries.

I first heard about the Japanese relocation camps in the early 1960s, when a rancher friend in southwestern Colorado invited me to go pheasant hunting. He took me to see the remains of Amache, which was then just cement slabs where buildings had stood and roads bladed into the prairie. I was intrigued and researched the camp at the Denver Public Library, where I discovered that after the war, the buildings were sold to educational institutions to handle the influx of veterans going to school on the GI Bill. Some were sold to the University of Denver, and my journalism classes at DU were held in one of them.


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