Thin Wood Walls


Houghton Mifflin Company, 2004

A powerful story of a boy who grows up quickly in a changed world.

Eleven-year-old Joe Hanada likes playing basketball with his best friend, Ray, writing plays and stories, and thinking about the upcoming Christmas holiday. But his world falls apart when Japanese planes bomb Pearl Harbor, his country goes to war, and the FBI takes his father away. Neighbors and friends in his hometown near Seattle begin to suspect Joe, his family, and all Japanese Americans of spying for the enemy.

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“[Joe’s] rich verse serves not only as an outlet for his feelings, but also as a symbol of the triumph of beauty…this novel highlights the dramatic events of the time, as well as the more subtle human experience. Highly Recommended.”  —Library Media Connection (starred review)

“Patneaude scrupulously reports the facts and shows the wide range of attitudes among Japanese Americans and whites, citizens and immigrants, even among members of one family.”  —Booklist

“Thin Wood Walls lets our future generation, our youth, live the lesson that they can choose between FEAR… or LOVE.”  —Frank Y Kitamoto, President, Japanese American Community

“Moving and clear…An important and forceful contribution to the field.”  —Kirkus Reviews

“A beautiful, touching, coming-of-age World War II novel.”  —VOYA Magazine

“This well-written novel is a worthy companion to Ken Mochizuki’s Baseball Saved Us (Lee & Low, 1993) and Yoshiko Uchida’s Journey to Topaz (Turtleback, 1985) and Journey Home (McElderry, 1978).”  —School Library Journal

  • 2006-2007 Mark Twain Award Nominee (MO)
  • William Allen White Young Readers List (KS)
  • Washington Reads selection, Washington State Library
  • Winnetka (Illinois) One Book, Two Villages selection