Tuesday, May 05, 2009

“What a successful book launch! The joy and excitement about your book are contagious.” These were the words of Daria Sharanewych, librarian for the Children’s Department, Mississauga Central Library. She was describing the launch of When the Cherry Blossoms Fell by Jennifer Maruno, published by Napoleon Publishing.
Sprays of cherry blossoms, pots of green tea and trays of mochi welcomed those who wished to hear Jennifer read. Mochi, made of pounded rice and sweet red bean paste, is a special Japanese treat featured in the novel. For some it was their first taste.
On hand to welcome the guests were 8 year old Emiko Arai and 15 year old Jamie Aitken wearing traditional Japanese kimonos and carrying paper parasols.
In 1988, Jennifer, contracted to write a teacher’s guide for a book especially created to commemorate the events of the war in Canada, she found it difficult to do the necessary research. The history books had left out most of the truth.
When Jennifer met Eiko Kitagawa Maruno, she was unaware of Eiko’s history. At times, Eiko referred to “camp” and the hardships that went with it. Soon her story became the key to unlocking this historical secret. Eiko shared it, along with her photographs, over time.
This episode in Japanese-Canadian history became a novel. When the Cherry Blossoms Fell is the story of nine-year-old Michiko Minagawa. She wants to be proud of her heritage but can’t be. The world is at war. The Government of Canada has taken unprecedented actions against her community and treats all Japanese people as enemy aliens.
On May 2, Napoleon Publishing launched When the Cherry Blossoms Fell, a book for middle-grade readers. The launch coincided with the beginning of Asian Heritage Month. 93 year old, Eiko Maruno attended the celebration, along with members of her family Pat Adachi; one of the interment camp teachers was also present.

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