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Love in the Library

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Set in an incarceration camp where the United States cruelly detained Japanese Americans during WWII and based on true events, this moving love story finds hope in heartbreak.

To fall in love is already a gift. But to fall in love in a place like Minidoka, a place built to make people feel like they weren’t human—that was miraculous.

After the bombing of Pearl Harbor, Tama is sent to live in a War Relocation Center in the desert. All Japanese Americans from the West Coast—elderly people, children, babies—now live in prison camps like Minodoka. To be who she is has become a crime, it seems, and Tama doesn’t know when or if she will ever leave. Trying not to think of the life she once had, she works in the camp’s tiny library, taking solace in pages bursting with color and light, love and fairness. And she isn’t the only one. George waits each morning by the door, his arms piled with books checked out the day before. As their friendship grows, Tama wonders: Can anyone possibly read so much? Is she the reason George comes to the library every day? Maggie Tokuda-Hall’s beautifully illustrated, elegant love story features a photo of the real Tama and George—the author’s grandparents—along with an afterword and other back matter for readers to learn more about a time in our history that continues to resonate.

40 pages, Kindle Edition

First published January 11, 2022

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About the author

Maggie Tokuda-Hall

9 books722 followers
Maggie Tokuda-Hall (1984 -) is the author of Also an Octopus, The Mermaid the Witch and the Sea, its sequel The Siren, The Spy and The Song, Squad, and Love in the Library.

She lives in Oakland, California with her husband, children, and objectively perfect dog.

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5 stars
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Displaying 1 - 30 of 583 reviews
Profile Image for Dave Schaafsma.
Author 6 books31.5k followers
June 12, 2023
Update sharing (below) what Maggie Tokuda-Ha;; decided to do in response to Scholastic's offer to republish/promote this book, and apologize for their wanting to edit her author's note, but if you don't have time to read her blog piece, the author said no, she rejects the offer from Scholastic:


Go, Maggie Tokuda-Hall! And go, Scholastic and other major publishers, fight racism and censorship and erased history!

Previous update based on an article about how Scholastic Books wanted to publish this book but delete references to racism in the author's afterword. See below.

Maggie Tokuda-Hall's grandparents met and fell in love in a library. Perfect for Goodreads romance readers, eh? But the library was in a prison camp here in the US during WWII, when Japanese-American citizens with no criminal records--whole families--were taken from their homes with minimal personal belongings, and were imprisoned for years. To attempt to soften the rhetorical blow of that harsh reality, American history calls this despicable process "internment" as if the law-abiding Japanese families, taken from and in most cases losing their homes and livelihood, were somehow being invited to be "interns" in a barbed wire enclosure in the desert--oh, good experience! you'll learn so much! It'll open up future opportunities for you!

So it is a kind of a sweet family story--Grandpa did not actually read many of those books he want every day to take out from the library and return, imagine that!--but it is followed by a fiery afterword by the author that is meant for adults to convey in some way perhaps to their children. As she says, "Hate is not a virus; it is an American tradition." "The racism that put my grandparents in Minidoka is the same hate that keeps children in cages at our border." Bravo, Love in the Library team, and lovely illustrations, too.

But now I read that Tokuda-Hall, in the process of getting the great news that a big and powerful publisher wanted to publish her book, asked her to cut the above references to racism, fearing that in these divisive times, that talking about such an uncomfortable subject might reduce book sales and maybe--given the move to censor books on racism and the defunding of libraries in some (red) states--actually get the book banned. Right! Better yet, let's put the sweet romance in a library on a fantasy island! With fairies! Let's not talk about uncomoratble realities and just hope they will go away!

The book was initially published by Candlewick Press, but getting the book picked up by a powerhouse such as Scholastic Press would ordinarily be a huge win, getting the book in the hands of many many more kids and schools and libraries.

Here's the article on brave Scholastic Books:


In the article Scholastic, in the face of a firestorm of criticism (because that can sell books, too!) may be backing down on their original stance. See that here:

"Scholastic gave its reasons for the suggested change in an email to the author and her original publisher, Candlewick Press, citing a 'politically sensitive' moment for its market and a worry that the section 'goes beyond what some teachers are willing to cover with the kids in their elementary classrooms.'"

Tokuda-Hall's literary agent puts it succinctly:

"By refusing to let this story be situated in context of government oppression and enslavement of other marginalized groups, past and present, It makes it safe for them to say 'historically, mistakes were made, but look at how successful Japanese American communities are now,' " literary agent DongWon Song tweeted. "This is white supremacy. This is how it operates."
Profile Image for Scottsdale Public Library.
3,282 reviews262 followers
February 16, 2023
Okay, this one is a bit of a tear-jerker! During World War II, FDR signed an executive order that led Japanese-Americans to be confined to internment camps along the West Coast of the United States. Love in the Library is a story loosely based on Tokuda-Hall's grandparents and their love story. While their lives were turned upside down, they were still able to find joy in the little things (like books!). However, Tokuda-Hall does a wonderful job explaining what internment camps were and the conditions people faced while there. This book is a great conversation starter for anyone looking to learn more about Asian-American history. -Alyssa C.

Love in the Library is a beautiful picture book set in a Japanese internment camp during WWII and tells the story of the author's maternal grandparents who met and fell in love during those horrific circumstances. While I would love to see a full novel expanding their story, this picture book will give readers of all ages a glimpse into this shameful chapter of American History and taste of hope during a time of heartbreak. -Diana F.
Profile Image for Lisa Vegan.
2,802 reviews1,234 followers
April 24, 2022
Wow! I haven’t been in the mood for many picture books for some time but I’ve been reading a few here and there. I was expecting to like this one but I really loved it. It’s excellent. The (mostly true) story told in not too many words is interesting and the illustrations are lovely and perfectly capture the subject matter. They’re wonderful. The author’s note (two pages of text) at the end packs a punch and says what should be said. A photo of the young couple is included. This is a book about love, hope, and injustice. Beautifully and powerfully done! I was “forced” to finally read this because it’s due soon at the library and there is a really long hold list. Well deserved!
Profile Image for Danielle.
Author 2 books232 followers
March 12, 2022
An exquisite book about being human when the world, the government, one's circumstances are inhumane. I noticed how things didn't wrap up quickly, but the story took its time. We as readers really live there with the characters in Minidoka prison camp as they struggle and find joy despite.
Profile Image for Karen Witzler.
482 reviews164 followers
April 14, 2023
Read earlier when first published - a gentle story about two young people finding joy in difficult conditions. They are both in a WWII Japanese internment camp.

In the news today because in light of the ongoing and outrageous attempts by the Christofascist Right here in the US to limit discussion of historical racism or anything that does not agree with their limited anti-scientific, anti-intellectual, anti-historical, and anti-art worldview this book's publisher - Scholastic - has asked the author to edit her Preface to remove any mention of racism. She has refused.

So glad I already purchased a copy.
Profile Image for Literary Redhead.
1,732 reviews515 followers
January 27, 2022
This important audiobook by Maggie Tokuda-Hall, Dreamscape Media, is based on the author's grandparents, who fell in love in a U.S. WWII Relocation Center for Japanese-Americans. While the narration is a bit soft, I found a copy to read, and let me say this beautifully illustrated YA book should be in every school and public library! Out January 25.

Thanks to the author, audio publisher, and NetGalley for the audio ARC; opinions are mine. This is a review of the audiobook and book.

#LoveintheLibrary #NetGalley
Profile Image for Ms. B.
3,033 reviews37 followers
April 3, 2022
Touching story about finding the good in the most adverse of circumstances. This is the story of the author's grandparents who fell in love at a Japanese internment camp during World War II.
Give this one to tweens, teens, young adults and adults who like picture books. You're never too old for a good picture book, 3.5 stars for kids, 4 stars for adults.
Profile Image for Shafira Indika.
232 reviews156 followers
January 28, 2023
Aaaa sweet bangeet... dan ternyata ini tuh kisah nyata nenek-kakeknya si penulis🥰🥰 sepertinya ini akan bagus deh kalo ada dalam bentuk novel.

"To fall in love is already a gift. But to fall in love in a place like Minidoka, a place built to make people feel like they weren't human—that was miraculous. That was humans doing what humans do best."

"The miracle is hard to find sometimes. But it is in all of us."
Profile Image for Vanessa.
157 reviews11 followers
February 18, 2022
I don't usually put children's books on my "read" list, but this was so sweet and made me rather teary. Love in the Library is based on the true story of the author's grandparents who fell in love while living in a Japanese-American internment camp during the second world war. Artfully handled and beautifully illustrated, it's worth a read for children and adults alike.
Profile Image for Tarissa.
1,378 reviews84 followers
January 4, 2022
An excellent read. It only takes a few minutes to read the whole story, and it was great to take a little break from life to take time for this story.

This story finds a bit inspiration in the midst of an Idahoan internment camp for Japanese Americans. Tama is the librarian at the camp, and George visits every day to check out a pile of books...

I was intrigued to discover that this little love story is based on the author grandparents. How fascinating!

I actually listened to the audio book version, which I highly recommend for audio listeners. Great narration.

I received a complimentary copy of this book but was not required to leave a review.
Profile Image for Vernon Area Public Library KIDS.
927 reviews38 followers
April 2, 2022
Tama works in the library at the Minidoka incarceration camp where a fellow book enthusiast visits her every day. But is he truly reading a stack of books every day or visiting for another reason? Tokuda-Hall captures this sweet love story of her grandparents while giving a factual depiction of the racial prejudice committed upon Japanese Americans and how they were forced to create a life of escape amidst injustice.

Imamura captures the dismal atmosphere of the internment setting with shadows and brown hues while, at the same time, illustrating the characters with strength, resilience, and lifted spirits.

The unique illustrations, the expertly crafted story, and the importance of historical education for young children make this a true stand out.

Reviewed by: Miss Kelsey, Youth and School Services, Vernon Area Public Library
Profile Image for Josalynne Balajadia.
366 reviews10 followers
October 27, 2022
A bittersweet story that helps to break down the Japanese concentration camps in North America in WWII for younger children. It was nice that even though there was a love story component it was not meant to diminish the awfulness of these concentration camps.
Profile Image for Sara .
1,145 reviews110 followers
April 19, 2023
I read this because of the NPR article talking about how Scholastic wanted the author to tone down how she spoke about racism in America in her afterword - and how she refused. It's worth looking up what happened.

But let's talk about the book itself. It is very beautiful - the art, the writing. I have never been an elementary teacher, but I would think this would be for upper elementary or even middle school as the author talks about racism and injustice and complicated emotions in a way that does not dumb things down at all. I respect that.

The book is about the fact that things like love and resilience can be found in inhumane and unfair situations. But the author is very clear that while love and resilience are wonderful and miraculous, the takeaway is not that "love overcomes all" or "we can all find resilience"- the takeaway is that humans are capable of love and resilience DESPITE the very very awful injustices created within the chilling bureaucratic frameworks that support racism and bigotry.
Profile Image for Marathon County Public Library.
1,468 reviews46 followers
April 27, 2022
This picture book has readers meet Tama and George, two Japanese Americans being held in a prison camp called Minidoka. Based on the true story of the author's family being held in a similar camp after the attack on Pearl Harbor, readers follow Tama as she struggles with the unjust and cruel conditions of the camp. Working in the camp's library, she meets George, who comes every day to check out books.

This picture book not only shows the history of the Japanese Americans who had to live in such a cruel camp, but it also shows the power of books and human connection. I found so many beautiful quotes in this book, including one the author shares was in her grandmother's diary: "The miracle is in all of us." This is a must read!

Sarah M. / Marathon County Public Library
Find this book in our library catalog.
Profile Image for Hope.
732 reviews30 followers
September 6, 2022
Loved it. And the author's note is 🔥🔥🔥
Profile Image for Alex  Baugh.
1,954 reviews109 followers
February 4, 2022
This is such a sweet fictionalized story of two people, the author's grandparents, who found love despite having been sent to Minidoka, a Japanese incarceration camp located in the middle of nowhere in Idaho after the nation of Japan attacked Pearl Harbor in 1941.

Tama was a young woman who loves books and reading and who took a job as librarian in the camp library despite not knowing how to be a librarian. George was a young man who seemed to like books, because every day he was at the library door with a big stack of books to return.

George and Tama, and all West Coast people of Japanese descent were sent to different incarceration camps despite having never committed a crime. Minidoka was unbearably hot in summer, and bitter cold in winter, and muddy in fall and spring because of rain. And there was virtually no privacy.

Tama loved to read and could get really lost in some of the books she read. But unlike George, Tama found it hard to smile, not at her books or the boys playing baseball outside the library. When George asked what was wrong, Tama couldn't find the right words to tell him. But George knows exactly the right word to describe what Tama was feeling: human.

And that's when Tama discovered that the reason George spent so much time in the library wasn't because he was a big reader, but it was because of her. In a place that tried to dehumanize them, it was a miracle to fall in love in Minidoka, but that's just was George and Tama did. And it didn't take long for them to get married despite the terrible circumstances they were living in and had their first son in the camp.

This is such a wonderful book for introducing young readers to what happened to people of Japanese descent once the United States entered WWII. The author never minimizes Tama's despair about how her life suddenly changed with her incarceration in Minidoka, or the terrible, unjust conditions under which people were forced to live, but she still manages to offer readers an optimistically hopeful story, all the more wonderful because it is based on a true story.

The text is complimented by detailed gouache and watercolor illustrations, reminiscent of the period and done in a palette of desert browns and tans broken by the more colorful clothing the inhabitants had brought with them.

Back matter consists of an Author's Note with more age appropriate information about how Japanese Americans were sent to the camps in the first place, and how it was done as well as more information on the real Tama and George.

Love in the Library would be a excellent addition to any school library or home library. And you can download a Teacher's Guide from the publisher HERE

This book was an eARC gratefully received from Candlewick Press
Profile Image for Sharon.
Author 38 books379 followers
April 13, 2023
What a beautiful book! Author Maggie Tokuda-Hall tells the story of how her grandparents met while interned at Camp Minidoka (coincidentally, this is where my beloved high school French teacher was interned). The lovely watercolor illustrations still manage to show the harsh reality of what Japanese Americans lived with in the camps.

The author's note makes no bones that this is a book about racism ... and for that, I say hooray. We need to speak the truth about this shameful time in our country's history, and to speak out against its continuation in the present time.
Profile Image for Helen Dunn.
942 reviews51 followers
April 15, 2023
A lovely picture book about an awful time in our history - the internment of Japanese Americans.

Purchased after reading a twitter thread about the author and Scholastic publishing where they wanted to distribute her book but only if she removed all discussion of racism from the author’s note.

How blind to ask such a thing of a book about dealing with the impact and anguish of blatant racism. Just terrible.

Happy to support the author with my purchase.
Profile Image for Molly Dettmann.
1,446 reviews22 followers
May 6, 2023
Forced in an internment camp this is the story about how the author’s maternal grandparents found love despite unjust confinement based solely on their race. You have to read the author’s note. Such a sweet story that does not shy away from the circumstances it came from.
Profile Image for Deb (Readerbuzz) Nance.
5,871 reviews292 followers
October 20, 2022
Tama and George have been sent to live in an internment camp for Japanese-Americans during World War II. Tama runs the library, and George comes to the library every day. Before long, they begin to talk and soon they marry.

Along with the terrible parts of being incarcerated during the war comes happiness, too.

A little story based on the true stories of the author's grandparents.
Profile Image for Stacy.
1,137 reviews4 followers
January 3, 2022
A true story about the author’s grandparents, Love in the Library takes place in an American internment camp for Japanese-Americans during World War II. Tama works in the library at the camp, and every day, George is her first customer, waiting to return the armful of books he had checked out the previous day. It’s impossible for George to read that many books so quickly, and finally Tama realizes that George has been visiting the library because he likes her.

This book is a great introduction for kids to a dark part of the U.S.’s World War II actions that is not often mentioned. I listened to the audiobook, and the narrator did a great job with the story, but I imagine seeing the illustrations in the physical book would make the story even better. I loved the author’s note at the end, telling us about her grandparents’ life together.

Many thanks to NetGalley for providing me an audio ARC of this audiobook.
Profile Image for Teresa Edmunds.
624 reviews5 followers
April 14, 2023
The story portion of this book is nice. It touches on the difficulties experienced by Japanese Americans during WWII and adds a tender love story. If only the book had stopped there. My problem with the book is the author's words, actually more of a rant, that is included at the back of the book. The words and opinions feel harsh and almost hateful rather than informative. This is a book for elementary children and such harshness is not appropriate for young readers. Anger and accusations seem to be the norm nowadays, which is sad. We should address the terrible actions of the past (this story happened over 75 years ago), but we can still be respectful and balanced in our expressions. My great-uncle was a prisoner of war in a Japanese prisoner camp. He was frequently tortured, yet he chose to be respectful of all people when he came home. He did not want to continue the horrors of war. We could learn from his example. War is a horrible thing and it brings fear and harm in many forms. Now more than ever, we need to speak fairly and respectfully to keep peace. Learn from the past yes, but not use it as a reason to be harsh and angry.
Profile Image for GONZA.
6,474 reviews112 followers
January 25, 2022
As far as I'm concerned, a love story that blossoms in a library is absolutely "THE LOVE STORY" and in fact I wasn't wrong. Of course, the library is in a prison camp and of course the atmosphere is not what you might imagine, but between the drawings and the words of the text this is one of the best love books (also towards humanity) that I have ever read.

Per quanto mi riguarda una storia d'amore che sboccia in biblioteca é in assoluto "LA STORIA D'AMORE" e infatti non mi sono sbagliata. Certo, la biblioteca è in un campo di prigionia e certo l'atmosfera non é certo quella che ci si potrebbe immaginare, ma tra i disegni e le parole del testo questo resta uno dei migliori libri d'amore (anche verso l'umanitá) che io abbia mai letto

I received from the Publisher a complimentary digital advanced review copy of the book in exchange for a honest review.
Profile Image for Laura Harrison.
1,030 reviews113 followers
April 9, 2022
This is a quirky one. It is about two adults who meet in Minidoka, a Japanese internment camp in Idaho. Tama becomes the camp librarian and George is a daily patron so he can visit Tama. The title is whimsical, but Love in the Library is a solemn book promoted as a book for all ages. Love in the Library might be a fantastic resource for teachers to introduce and discuss Frankly Roosevelt's ghastly Executive Order 9066 which "relocated" citizens of Japanese ancestry on the West Coast. This order ruined the lives of Japanese Americans who had to give up everything-homes, jobs, education, possessions for incarceration. The illustrations by Yas Imamura have warm, soft tones throughout. It is a beautiful book.
Profile Image for Rod Brown.
5,551 reviews198 followers
June 18, 2023
Family Picture Book Read-Aloud Afternoon: A Nine-Book Pile!

Librarian romance! Even during the miserable and unforgivable period of Japanese-American internment during World War II, two unjustly incarcerated Americans find momentary escape and even love in an Idaho wasteland. Sweet!

It's disgusting that the current political climate has mired such a nice little book in an awful controversy:
Profile Image for Brenda Kahn.
3,697 reviews53 followers
May 7, 2021
I had the privilege of listening to the author read this aloud at a virtual Candlewick event and I cannot wait to reread this when it publishes. The story is so touching and the illustrations are perfect and gorgeous. Hearing about the artistic process from each was so instructive.
Profile Image for Ashley.
227 reviews5 followers
March 2, 2022
Hate is not a virus, it is an American tradition. Profound.
Profile Image for Jennifer.
2,165 reviews64 followers
June 20, 2023
When this beautifully illustrated picture book was initially published, I glanced at it and thought, because of the library setting AND the Japanese internment camp pieces, I’d eventually read it. The book moved up on my TBR—and got purchased for my personal library—because, prior to offering the book for sale at their fairs, Scholastic asked the author to make a change to her author’s note. The author said “No thank you” and wrote a response piece about the request. Then, after Scholastic backpedaled and recanted, she wrote a second blog post about why the answer was still “no”.

I am glad the author stood her ground and protected her product. Scholastic’s concern was with wording in the author’s note. Those challenging the book have cited the same wording. Removing access to a book is banning. Asking for changes to an author’s chosen words is censorship. Readers have every right to choose not to read a book, or to make that choice for their family. They do not have the right to tell me, or my children if I had them, that they cannot read the book.

Those who are concerned about the author’s note, please tell me, honestly, when was the last time your four- or five-year-old read an author’s note in a book? Or asked you to read it to them? I did not read author’s notes until high school. Prior to that time, the “extra part at the end” seemed unimportant to me. It was only with maturity that I learned that those notes contained valuable insight into the author’s mindset, historical context, and/or separating the fiction from the fact.

So, if you skip the author’s note here, what your young reader will get is the story of two adults who fell in love while at a library in an internment camp during World War II. Yes, there is mention of the internment camps being prisons and life being difficult. But the focus is on the love story, the author’s maternal grandparents meeting & falling in love during a dark period of US history. The wording is gracious and fully expresses the love & pride the author feels for her grandparents. The artwork conveys the prison the Japanese citizens were placed in during the war while also showing life within the fences and the sparks of love between the two adults. It is a fantastic introduction to this part of American history that needs to be learned so that it is never repeated.
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