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Children's Fiction Multigenerational

When the Cherry Blossoms Fell

A Cherry Blossom Book

by (author) Jennifer Maruno

Dundurn Press
Initial publish date
Apr 2009
Multigenerational, Post-Confederation (1867-), Bullying
  • Paperback / softback

    Publish Date
    Apr 2009
    List Price
  • eBook

    Publish Date
    Apr 2009
    List Price

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Recommended Age, Grade, and Reading Levels

  • Age: 9 to 12
  • Grade: 4 to 8
  • Reading age: 9 to 12


Short-listed for the 2012 Pacific Northwest Young Readers Choice Award and for the 2011 Hackmatack Children’s Choice Award
Nine-year-old Michiko Minagawa bids her father good-bye before her birthday celebration. She doesn’t know the government has ordered all Japanese-born men out of the province. Ten days later, her family joins hundreds of Japanese-Canadians on a train to the interior of British Columbia. Even though her aunt Sadie jokes about it, they have truly reached the "Land of No". There are no paved roads, no streetlights and not streetcars. The house in which they are to live is dirty and drafty. At school Michiko learns the truth of her situation. She must face local prejudice, the worst winter in forty years and her first Christmas without her father.

About the author

Jennifer Maruno began her publishing career with award winning educational materials for The Peel District School Board and the Ontario Ministry of Education. She is one of the authors of Explorations, a mathematics program for Addison-Wesley of Canada, and worked with TVO in developing teaching materials for the television show Mathica's Mathshop. For her contributions to educational writing, she received the Federation of Women Teachers Writing Award, the National Council of Teachers Award of Excellence and The Award of Merit from the National School Public Relations Association. She holds a Masters of Education, Principal's and Primary Specialists certification and is a graduate of the Institute of Children's Literature and the Humber School of Writers summer program.Her short stories have appeared in a variety of children's magazines in Great Britain, United States and Canada. Born in Niagara Falls, Ontario, Jennifer came from a book loving family. She worked as a library helper in the old red brick library on Victoria Avenue while attending Valley Way Public school. Her childhood ambition was to have a book with her name on the spine sitting on the shelf.Her first children's novel, When the Cherry Blossoms Fell won nominations for the Hackmatack and Young Readers of Canada Awards.Educator, researcher and author, Jennifer Maruno knows stories provide much more than entertainment. From the pages of Canadian history, she creates novels empathetic to those who have experienced the darker side of our past. Maruno's understanding of the importance of cultural identity has brought When the Cherry Blossoms Fell, Cherry Blossom Winter and Cherry Blossom Baseball based on the Japanese Internment and Warbird a novel of early Jesuit life among the Huron people.Details of Kid Soldier, Jennifer's fourth novel for children, come from her father's diary. He joined the Canadian Armed Forces under age and set out for England. Enroute Britain declared war. Totem, the story of a boy seeking his identity from the confines of a residential school, was written at a time most necessary to Truth & ReconciliationJennifer lives in Burlington, Ontario with her husband spending her time weeding her David Austin roses, writing and reading to grandchildren.Laurel Keating is an award-winning artist whose illustrations are familiar to Newfoundlanders. With an eye for detail and sympathy for all living things, Laurel brings her characters to life with warmth and humour. Children have delighted in her rich and colourful illustrations in Find Scruncheon and Touton (1 and 2) and Yaffle's Journey and Full Speed Ahead: Errol's Bell Island Adventure. She lives in scenic Portugal Cove, which she has called home all her life.

Jennifer Maruno's profile page


  • Short-listed, Pacific Northwest Young Readers Choice Award
  • Short-listed, Hackmatack Children's Choice Award

Editorial Reviews

...recommend this book as a jumping off point for history or social studies classes studying World War II and this oft untold story of the horrific treatment of our Japanese residents at the hand of the Canadian government.

CM Magazine

Librarian Reviews

When the Cherry Blossoms Fell

It’s March 1942 and Michiko Minagawa is about to turn nine. Her father, who has never missed her birthday, is late coming home. Then her mother receives a phone call telling her that Michiko’s father has been put in jail. When he returns home, he tells his family that all Japanese men have been ordered out of Vancouver and he is being sent to work in the mountains. Shortly thereafter Michiko and the rest of her family join hundreds of other Japanese-Canadians as they are forced by the government to move to the interior of British Columbia.

Life in the interior is harsh for the Minagawa family. They have had to leave most of their possessions behind and their living conditions are far from easy. The family is befriended by Mrs. Morrison who helps Michiko enroll in school in the nearby town. But Michiko quickly learns that not all people are kind and faces prejudice in her new school setting. Confused and afraid, she becomes friends with Clarence who helps her find her voice to stand up to the town bully, George. The story ends as Michiko’s family is reunited and they begin to rebuild their lives.

In When the Cherry Blossoms Fell, Jennifer Maruno tells an endearing story about the relocation experience of one Japanese-Canadian family and how a little girl finds the courage to fight the prejudice with which she is faced. Maruno’s first few introductory chapters could be more concise, but as the story progresses it flows more smoothly. The Japanese vocabulary may be a slight distraction for less proficient readers as they flip back and forth to the glossary to gain meaning, but also provides an opportunity to learn more about Japanese culture. All in all, an enjoyable read!

Source: The Canadian Children's Bookcentre. Fall 2009. Vol.32 No.4.

Other titles by Jennifer Maruno