Guest Author - Taisha Turner
Heroes by Ken Mochizuki is about a Japanese-American boy, Donnie. The story happens in America after the Korean War. Dom Lee illustrates the story.
Ken Mochizuki’s Heroes is a picture book about a little boy, due to being Japanese, is always wrongly considered the enemy. Donnie hates playing war games with his playmates. He is always the “bad guy,” not a “good guy.” The reason he plays with the children is because they are the only ones in his neighborhood.
What the other children don’t know is that Donnie’s father served in World War II. Donnie’s Uncle was an officer during the Korean War. Donnie wants them to share their past with the other children, but like so many soldiers, they don’t want to talk of war. Let alone discuss the topic with children.
One day, children taunt and chase Donnie to his family’s gas station. They are pointing their finger at him, pretending to shoot him. Donnie is tired of the mistreatment at the hands of others. Donnie’s father and uncle witness everything.
The following day, Donnie’s father and Uncle arrive after school. They come in the family truck, but are not dressed as usual. Donnie’s father is wearing his United States’ of America Army Cap with medals. His uncle is wearing his full dress uniform. Neither man says a word. Nor do the children. Donnie’s father throws Donnie a spiral pass. Soon all the children are playing football. No one calls Donnie the “bad guy” anymore.
Ken Mochizuki shares in Heroes information on the 442nd Regimental Combat Team. This all Japanese-American Army regiment fought in Europe. It is one of the most highly decorated units in U.S. history.
Heroes teaches that European and African-Americans are not the only people from our country to fight during World War II and the Korean War. The Iraq Conflict is happening now. We should stress the fact, there are people, representative of all our different ethnic groups, fighting for all of us. This includes the men and women of U.S. territories and possessions.
Sadly, television and movies don’t always portray the real world. We know this, that’s one reason we read, to learn. We must teach our children this valuable lesson.
There is an old film about the 442nd Regimental Combat unit. Hopefully, a copy can be secured. I saw it on late night television years ago. Watch the film. The film depicts the day by day struggles and battles of these courageous men. This is a war film, thus I don't recommend a showing to children.
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Note: Heroes by Ken Mochizuki was from the library.