Full Text Reviews:
Booklist - 10/01/2018 In 1942, a small plane was catapulted from a Japanese submarine off the Oregon coast. Nobuo, the pilot, had strapped his family’s 400-year-old samurai sword to his seat before flying over Brookings, a tiny town, to the woods beyond it, where his navigator dropped two bombs. Only one exploded, doing little damage on the ground, but its aftereffects on the pilot were almost unbearable. After the war, Nobuo told no one about the raid, but guilt weighed heavily on him until, in 1962, Brookings invited him back. Returning with his family, he presented his ancestral sword to the town. Nobuo revisited it several times, hosted local students on a tour of Japan, and died an honorary citizen of Brookings. Clearly written and sometimes moving, this quiet story is less about war than the toll it takes on those who fight, the possibility of reconciliation, and the value of understanding other cultures. The fluid, emotionally resonant ink-and-watercolor illustrations create period scenes effectively while capturing the tone of the text. A war story with a heartening conclusion. - Copyright 2018 Booklist.
School Library Journal - 11/01/2018 Gr 2–5—In this moving tale of war and reconciliation Nobleman relates the experiences of Japanese pilot Nobuo Fujita, who flew two bombing missions over Brookings, OR, in 1942 (causing little damage and no loss of life) and returned to the scene 20 years later at the town's invitation to deliver a formal apology. What began as a then-controversial stunt intended to promote local tourism turned into something more profound—a warm lifelong relationship, with exchanges of visits and gifts until his death in 1997. Iwai matches the account's measured, matter-of-fact language with quiet watercolor scenes of a distant plane and a subdued explosion, of the dignified Fujita and his postwar family (who knew nothing of his missions until the invitation arrived), and of townsfolk welcoming him with a parade and ceremonies. Rather than adding a typical (and tedious) recap at the end, the author closes with a note on what drew him to this episode and an appreciation of the spirit shown on both sides, but particularly Fujita's: "He went from fighting to uniting. Which took more courage?" VERDICT A worthy addition for younger middle graders.—John Peters, Children's Literature Consultant, NY - Copyright 2018 Publishers Weekly, Library Journal and/or School Library Journal used with permission.