For Ages: 10 - 14
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"This is what it felt like to be lonely:
1. Like everyone was looking at you. Sumiko felt this once in a while.
2. Like nobody was looking at you. Sumiko felt this a lot.
3. Like you didn't care about anything at all. She felt this maybe once a week.
4. Like you were just about to cry over every little thing. She felt this about once daily."
Raised on a flower farm in California, twelve-year-old Sumiko is often isolated at school, where she is the only Japanese-American girl in her class. But at least she has her flowers and her family to go home to.
Until Pearl Harbor is bombed by the Japanese. Then, other Americans start to suspect that all Japanese people are spies for the emperor, even if, like Sumiko, they were born in the United States. Soon Sumiko's family is shipped to an internment camp on an Indian reservation, where the Japanese are as unwanted as they'd been at home. But then Sumiko meets a young Mohave boy who might just become her first real friend.. if he can ever stop being angry about the fact that the camp is on his tribe's land.
WEEDFLOWER is the story of the rewards and challenges of a friendship across the racial divide, told with searing insight through the eyes of a young girl who yearns to belong.
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  • Atheneum Books for Young Readers | 
  • 272 pages | 
  • ISBN 9781416975663 | 
  • January 2009 | 
  • Grades 5 - 9
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Reading Group Guide

By Cynthia Kadohata
"How could such a tragedy have occurred in a democratic society that prides itself on individual rights and freedoms?"
Milton S. Eisenhower
Twelve-year-old Sumiko lives on a flower farm in California, and dreams of owning a flower shop someday. She is the only Japanese-American girl in her class, and is often the victim of bigotry, but she feels tranquil when she is among the flowers. Then the Japanese bomb Pearl Harbor and the United States government send all Japanese people to internment camps. Sumiko and her family are sent to an Indian reservation in the Arizona desert where she discovers that the Indians resent them for taking over their land. Living conditions are poor and Sumiko no longer has the flowers to comfort her, but helping Mr. Moto, a lonely old man, plant a garden, and developing a friendship with Frank, a young Mohave boy, leads her on a journey of self-discovery and helps her realize the real reason that her grandfather left Japan for America long before she was born.
Ask students to write a paragraph about what they think racial and ethnic profiling means. Invite them to share their paragraphs in class. Engage them in a discussion about how Americans continue to practice ethnic profiling today.
Explain the title of the novel.
Sumiko describes loneliness: (1) like everyone was looking at you (2) l see more

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