I was a teacher before settling in Japan. I was an English major as an undergraduate and an Applied Linguistics major as a graduate student. For ten years, I taught reading and study skills to international students who were preparing to enter university studies in the United States.
When writing Somewhere Among, I purposely kept Japanese words to a minimum. I used Japanese onomatopoeia for effect (who wouldn’t?) but in other instances I only used Japanese words if there wasn’t a clear equivalent in English. Some were defined immediately following a comma. Others were defined in context. As a teacher, I emphasized the skill of finding contextual clues for the meanings of unknown words and, as a writer, it was my preferred choice in dealing with Japanese words in the story.
Like teachers do, I researched material from newspapers, documentaries, magazines, life experience and music to create units of study. A lot of research went into Somewhere Among so I am sharing it with you.
The posts on this site are for reference of the 2001 events and for resources for aspects of the story. If you have questions or need something, contact me through my Facebook page, Annie Donwerth-Chikamatsu where I will post current information and photos about things related to the story and our lives in Japan. Here and There Japan, my photoblog, was started in 2006 and is written for children. There, they (and you) will find more about our life in Japan. I hope to continue updating it. Check out this (evolving) page on this website for some links to Somewhere Among related HTJ posts.
Simon & Schuster has added a reading group guide by Gregory Lum, library director at Jesuit High School in Portland, Oregon, and an adjunct instructor for Portland State University.
I am honored that Somewhere Among was chosen for the Scholastic Reading Club. I remember pouring over the Weekly Reader fliers when I was in grade school in the 1960s.
Here are some wonderful links to articles from Judy Newman at Scholastic:
A Powerful Poetry-Teaching Tool by Alexie Basil
Put Peace in Your Heart…and Yummy in Your Tummy by Elise McMullen-Ciotti
Larry Educational Consultant suggestions for Celebrating Free Verse Novels Larry Swartz
No Name-Calling Week book list from Simon & Schuster
Voya Magazine list of books Mixed-Race Identity and Power in YA Fiction