SOMEWHERE AMONG

Annie Donwerth-Chikamatsu, Simon & Schuster, Atheneum, A Caitlyn Dlouhy Book, 2016.

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Awards & Recognition 

Bank Street College of Education Best Children’s Book of the Year (2017 edition) 9 to 12

Crystal Kite Award 2017            The Society of Children Book Writers & Illustrators

Freeman Book Award 2016       The National Consortium for Teaching about Asia (NCTA),              The Committee on Teaching about Asia (CTA),  The Association for Asian Studies (AAS), and Asia for Educators (AFE) at Columbia University

Writers’ League of Texas Book Award 2016

Writers’ League of Texas 2013 middle grade novel manuscript award

Reviews for Somewhere Among

from KIRKUS REVIEWS, starred

During her mother’s difficult pregnancy, Ema and her parents move in with her Japanese grandparents.

Usually, in August, Ema and her white, American mother visit Nana and Grandpa Bob in California. But Mom’s pregnant and weak, so they move in with Papa’s parents on the other side of Tokyo. A new neighborhood’s hard, especially for a biracial kid who’s called “foreigner” by strangers but identifies as Japanese. Ema describes her life and cares in thoughtful, quietly detailed free-verse poems. She worries about the baby (“Other babies have almost come but were lost”), the judgment of her domineering Obaasan (grandmother), and the frailty of sweet Jiichan (grandfather); she misses Papa, who’s almost always at work. Carefully, she refrains from burdening anyone with her concerns. Woven right into this family’s heart are events past and present, local and far-flung. One is Jiichan’s boyhood trauma during World War II, “in the hills / watching / outside Nagasaki,” and how that bombing means that Jiichan’s ancestors have nothing like a grave: “There is nothing / no thing / left of Jiichan’s family.” Another is the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks, which they watch unfold from Japan and which threaten her fragile mother’s peace of mind. An occasional one-sentence poem, starkly alone on a page, strikes hard. Ema’s profound choice of her baby sister’s name brilliantly touches all the themes, including peace.

A tender piece about connectedness. (Verse historical fiction. 9-12) —Kirkus , starred review

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from The Horn Book Magazine

Somewhere Among
by Annie Donwerth-Chikamatsu
Intermediate Dlouhy/Atheneum 441 pp.

Japanese fifth-grader Ema and her pregnant mother must move to the other side of Toyko to stay for several months with Obaasan and Jiichan, Papa’s parents: Mom is weak with debilitating morning sickness, and Papa works long hours. No one is happy with the situation — Ema will miss her usual summer visit to Mom’s parents in California; stern Obaasan is overly controlling and critical; and Ema must deal with new schoolmates — and a bully. The one bright spot for Ema is Jiichan, who enjoys spending time with his granddaughter. Ema’s narration in this free-verse novel is quiet and thoughtful. The year is 2001, and the news is filled with heartbreak: the tragedy of the Ehime Maru, the Japanese ship sunk by an American submarine; the commemoration in August of the anniversaries of Hiroshima and Nagasaki (where Jiichan lost his whole family); and then September 11th, especially traumatic for Ema’s American mother. The word heart appears throughout the poems, leading gradually to the climax, as Jiichan’s heart lands him in the hospital and a stranger gives Ema an origami doll with a heart on it and a message of peace — a message that awakens in Obaasan a change of heart. When the baby arrives, Ema comes up with the perfect name for her new sister — leaving her family and readers feeling full of hope for the future. Though Ema sometimes sounds older than eleven, that’s a small caveat in an otherwise well-crafted, deeply absorbing novel.
The Horn Book Magazine, May/June 2016 

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from School Library Journal, Somewhere Among
Gr 4–7—Ema’s mom is expecting a new baby, and the pregnancy has been a tricky one, so her parents decide that she and her mother will stay in Japan with her paternal grandparents until the baby arrives. Complicating matters is the fact that her grandparents are very traditional and strict, which makes the biracial tween feel like even more of an outsider. She cannot keep herself from missing her old life of spending summers with her American maternal grandparents or relaxing with her father after work. To make matters worse, it seems she can never make her Japanese grandmother happy. Then tragedy after tragedy strike—all set against the backdrop of September 11, 2001. Everything starts to fall apart. After receiving a small gift during a chance meeting on a train, Ema realizes that she must do her best to remain positive and endure. Written as a first-person novel in free verse poetry, this is an engaging, quick read. Readers will relate to Ema’s struggles to grow up and understand how different people react to grief and conflict. Those unfamiliar with Japanese culture will get a glimpse into how other students grow up. Though the topic is heavy, Donwerth-Chikamatsu’s writing style will keep even reluctant readers wanting to know more about Ema’s life long after the novel’s end. This debut is sure to get young students thinking about global connections and how remaining positive through adversity in their own lives may make things a little better. VERDICT An absorbing and affecting story featuring a biracial middle grade protagonist.—DeHanza Kwong, Central Piedmont Community College, Charlotte, NC

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from Publishers Weekly, Somewhere Among

Ema’s life is in flux: her pregnant mother needs rest, so they’ve left Ema’s father in Tokyo while they stay with her grandparents, Obaasan and Jiichan, in the country. Ema misses her home and friends, as well as visiting her maternal grandparents in California in the summer. Meanwhile, her American mother clashes with Obaasan frequently; Ema has trouble getting to know her stern grandmother, too, though she connects with kindhearted Jiichan. As fifth grade begins, sensitive Ema has difficulties at school, including a bully, but her main concern is the health of her mother’s baby. Debut novelist Donwerth-Chikamatsu makes good use of the verse novel format to emphasize that “binational/ bicultural/ bilingual/ biracial” Ema is still learning English while revealing an intimate portrait of her daily struggles in an unfamiliar place. The novel is set over the course of several months in 2001, and while the 9/11 connection feels a bit tenuous, it provides a moving outside perspective on the tragedy and helps shape a universal message of “peace among nations/ peace among peoples/ peace in the heart.” Ages 9–12. Agent: Holly McGhee, Pippin Properties. (Apr.) Publisher’s Weekly

More reviews for Somewhere Among

The Blackbird Review April 11, 2016

BooksandBassets  Adrienne Gillespie

Bulletin of the Center for Children’s Books    Karen Coats

Horn Book Review of the Week   June 20-24

International Literacy Association     Linda T. Parsons  and  Lisa D. Patrick

The Jade Sphinx      James Abbott

Jenr Ruhl video review December 2017  

KidLit Reviews     Sue Morris

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Mrs. Schrock Reads     June 25, 2017

OmniLibros    Marilyn Ward

The Pied Piper Calls       Michaela     Betwixt the Books 

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Short & Sweet Reviews     Van Pham

Stacked   September 11 for Kids      Kimberly Francisco May 4, 2016

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The Universe Disturbed  #CBR8 Review #115

Worlds of Words WOW Review: Volume IX Issue 3 Spring 2017https://wowlit.org/wp-content/media/Somewhere-Among-Review.pdf

YA Books Central      Kayla King

Other for Somewhere Among

Asian Studies Center Books and Curriculum Materials of the Asian Studies Teaching Resource Library University of Pittsburgh

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Calgary Library  National Child Day list November 20, 2016

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The Columbian Check It Out: Understanding how 9/11 changed world     Jan Johnston

The Dallas Morning News  The Writers’ League of Texas winners August 1, 2017

A Declaration in Support of Children     The Brown Bookshelf

Dr. Bickmore’s YA Wednesday, Novels, Memoirs, Graphics, and Picture Books to Commemorate September 11th by Lesley Roessing    updated 2021

EarlyWord   The Publisher/Librarian Connection    9-11 for Kids

Eleanor Glewwe blog

Five College Center for East Asian Studies      Featured Resources 

From the Mixed-Up Files… of Middle- Grade Authors  Katharine Manning

Holly Thompson HatBooks 5 Verse Novels for APA Heritage Month

Indian Trails Middle School recommended book for 6th graders

Judy Newman at Scholastic: A Powerful Poetry-Teaching Tool by Alexie Basil

Judy Newman at Scholastic:  Put Peace in your Heart… and your Tummy   by Elise McMullen-Ciotti

Kentucky Middle School Poetry vol 1 Selected Books list

KidsCorner.org mentioned with Nine, Ten: A September 11 Story

Kidlitosphere Events Roundup Jama’s Alphabet Soup 2017 National Poetry Month March 31, 2017

Laura Shovan blog NPM 2017: 5 Questions for the Verse Novelist, Featuring Annie Donwerth-Chikamatsu

Lipscomb Academy    7th grade recommendations

Little Lady Librarian

Ottawa Public Library 2021 TOPIC GUIDE 9/11 staff created list Twentieth Anniversary of September 11th 2001

New Jersey Piscataway Public Library List Commemorating the 20th Anniversary of 9/11 Posted on September 2, 2021 by Stephanie Young

Newton Free Library Reading List for the Terrorist Attacks Sept. 1, 2021

New York Times mentioned with Towers Falling, The Memory of Things, Nine, Ten: A September 11th Story

NYPL Stavros Niarchos Foundation Library National Poetry Month tweet by The Children’s Center

Poets House Catalog

Poets House showcase 2016

Poetry Library London     added June 2016

Publisher’s Weekly 15 Years After September 11: A Roundup of New Children’s and YA Titles

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Staff Pick at County of Los Angeles Library Sept/Oct

TeachingBooks.net

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