BOOKS_aPlaceWhereSunflowersGrow248x253A Place Where Sunflowers Grow
Written by Amy Lee-Tai
Illustrated by Felicia Hoshino
Children’s Book Press, an imprint of Lee & Low Books, 2006
Bilingual in English and Japanese (translation by Marc Akio Lee)
Hardcover, $18.95, 978-0-89239-215-5
Softcover, $9.95, 978-0-89239-274-2


Mari wonders if anything can bloom at Topaz, where her family is interned along with thousands of other Japanese Americans during World War II. The summer sun is blazingly hot, and Mari’s art class has begun. But it’s hard to think of anything to draw in a place where nothing beautiful grows. Somehow, glimmers of hope begin to surface under the harsh sun – in the eyes of a kindly art teacher, in the tender words of Mari’s parents, and in the smile of a new friend.


entryContentThumbnail100px_janeAddamsThe Jane Addams Children’s Book Award is given by the Jane Addams Peace Association, the educational wing of the Women’s International League for Peace and Freedom. Read more about the organization and award here.


Me speaking at Jane Addams ceremony.
Speaking at Jane Addams ceremony Photo Credit: Heidi Trester


Awards and Honors

  • Jane Addams Children’s Book Award for Younger Children, 2007
  • IRA Children’s Book Award Notable Book, 2007
  • Notable Books for a Global Society, 2007
  • Foreword Book of the Year Finalist, 2007
  • Skipping Stones Honor Award, 2007
  • Contributing Editors’ Favorite Reads of 2006, The Bloomsbury Review
  • Best Books of the Seasons 2006, San Francisco Chronicle


“…a richly informative introduction to a subject little-addressed in works for children.”
— Kirkus Reviews


“Lee-Tai’s tale, with its emphasis on the internee’s dignity and feelings, offers the gentlest introduction to this tragic episode.”
— School Library Journal


“…a beautifully told story that deals honestly with harsh facts and shows the role and power of beauty and the arts in the uplifting of the human spirit.”
— MultiCultural Review


A Place Where Sunflowers Grow offers beautiful, haunting depictions of life in an internment camp as seen by a child and a narrative that is both simple and profound. A must in every school and library in the country.”
— Jean Wakatsuki Houston, author of Farewell to Manzanar


“…young Mari is the embodiment of all Japanese Americans who were wrongly and unconstitutionally interned during World War II. She…teaches all of us important lessons about our shared humanity and dignity.”
— Daniel K. Inouye, United States Senator


“Preservation of our history is the preservation of our democracy and a reminder of who we are as Americans. In a time of uncertainty, Amy Lee-Tai shines a light on what we are capable of perpetrating on our fellow citizens, and what we are capable of rising above.”
— Mike Honda, United States Congressman


Historical Information

To find out more about the Japanese American internment and art from the internment, go to:


Teacher’s Guide

For a free teacher’s guide to A Place Where Sunflowers Grow, go to


Book Order

Click to order A Place Where Sunflowers Grow:



BOOKS_friendsTilTheEnd248x253Friends Till The End
Written by Amy Lee-Tai
Illustrated by Robert Tai
Story Shares, National Contest, 2014
Winner for Best Illustrations

To read Friends Till The End, go to


BOOKS_storySharesLogo116x119Story Shares is an online literacy hub for struggling adolescent readers. For more information on Story Shares, to learn how you may write a book for the library, or to access books, go to