Music for Alice


Title: Music for Alice

Author(s): Allen Say

Illustrator/Photographer: Allen Say

Publisher, Year: Houghton Mifflin Company, 2004

Number of pages: 32

Genre: Non-fiction, autobiography

Descriptive Annotation: This is an autobiography of Alice. Alice loved to dance when she was a girl, growing up on a Californian farm. After she went to college, she met and married Mark, and then moved to Seattle, Washington. After learning about Pearl Harbor, a man from the FBI searched their apartment and informed them that the Japanese-Americans had to be in Portland, Oregon in two weeks. They could only take one suitcase per person and were generally perplexed at why the government was taking such steps. A group of white farmers came to the center they were at to take a group to work for them.

Linguistic and Cultural Diversity Analysis: Japanese-Americans clearly had a difficult time after Pearl Harbor took place, and this book looks at it from another perspective. Students may know about people who had to live in internment camps, but they may not have heard that some people went to work on farms. The illustrations by Say are very well done and provoke emotion without reading the text, I think a picture walk before reading would be a good idea because it will get students minds thinking about the family and what they are going through. The title doesn’t give away what is happening, so talking about that would be interesting, both before and after reading.

Interdisciplinary Connections: Many lessons could be taught social studies about different trials that Japanese-Americans faced after the attack on Pearl Harbor in 1942. I think a lesson of how many things we take for granted could be used with any grade level, because everyone has some part of life that we do not think about on a daily basis. Another lesson could be done by having a list of objects that the students love and then making them chose four things to take with them – the trick being they do not know where they have to go. In addition, the title brings up music. I think it would be interesting to see if students could follow the “trail” of music that is Alice’s life and compare that to themselves.

Other Information: I had no idea that people could chose to work for White people instead of going to live in camps. I also wasn’t aware that they lived in centers before the camps were even built. I think this would be a good book for older students but also younger students may be able to connect to it, especially if their families went through this. Allen Say is someone whose work who I would like to have available for students in my classroom. I wasn’t sure if I was going to like this book, but between the pictures and the different perspective, I did.

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