The Cat Who Chose to Dream
shares the story of a cat’s choice to be incarcerated at a World War II
prison camp as a gesture of loving support to the Japanese American family
to whom he belongs. We witness through the cat’s eyes the devastating
condition of the camp, as well as the sense of injustice he feels seeing his
family go through this demoralizing experience. Young readers also share in
the cat’s triumph over feelings of hopelessness and anger, as they witness
the cat’s use of breathing and visualization exercises that help transport
his creative mind to a place in his heart where he no longer feels
encumbered and restrained, but self-empowered and free. Through the beautiful artwork of Jimmy Tsutomu
Mirikitani, and the inclusion of therapeutic relaxation and visualization
techniques, Child PsychologistLoriene Hondademonstrates how the
imaginative mind can prove to be one’s most powerful tool in surpassing
Explore the life and legacy of Jimmy Tsutomo Mirikitani, a native Sacramento
artist incarcerated at Tule Lake during WWII, in this special literacy and
learning workshop featuring a presentation of the book based on his art, “The
Cat Who Chose to Dream” by author Dr. Loriene Honda followed by a screening of
“The Cats of Mirikitani,” the 2006 documentary film detailing Jimmy’s
experiences resulting from his incarceration during WWII, on Saturday, April 5.
Scheduled activities include:
When the orders came for Japanese Americans
along the West Coast to report for incarceration in internment camps in
1942, 23-year-old Fred Korematsu refused.
He went into hiding in Oakland, but eventually
was found, arrested and convicted of defying the government’s order.
His case was ultimately appealed all the way to
the U.S. Supreme Court — unsuccessfully, it turned out — and eventually
Korematsu found himself in the place he sought to avoid: in an
internment camp in Topaz, Utah.
There, he suffered for his actions, his
daughter, Karen, told students and parents at Korematsu’s namesake
school in Davis late last month.
He was vilified, she said.
“He was alone … he had brought shame to his own
family,” she said. “He didn’t have friends. Even his brothers deserted
Decades later, of course, he is a hero —
celebrated in California on the Fred T. Korematsu Day of Civil Liberties
and the Constitution, and celebrated every year at Korematsu Elementary
School in Davis. But at the time, he stood alone.
“There were very few people who spoke up,” said
Marielle Tsukamoto, a former Elk Grove teacher and internment camp
survivor. “Fred Korematsu was one of them and he was punished for it.”
Tsukamoto and Karen Korematsu were among those
attending a celebration at Korematsu Elementary School that included
songs, a book reading by Davis psychologist and author Loriene Honda —
whose father, Lawrence, was interned at Manzanar — as well as panelists
who answered students’ questions about the internment camps.
Honda, who had been honored earlier that day at
the state Capitol, read from her book, “The Cat who Chose to Dream,”
which tells of life in an internment camp from the perspective of a cat
who snuck into a camp with his family in order to bear witness to
The story was based on an actual person, Ralph
Lazo, who wasn’t even Japanese but chose to go to Manzanar to witness
what was being done to his friends. But not all Americans felt the way
Lazo did — that the incarceration of Japanese-Americans was wrong.
In fact, said former internee Mas Hatano, “The
majority were happy to see us go.”
One Korematsu student asked how the internees
felt about being betrayed by their own country.
Susan Kotarek, a former internee who has three
grandchildren attending Korematsu, said many of them complied quietly
because they wanted to prove they were good Americans.
Karen Korematsu — whose father did not comply —
said, “There was no due process, no charges, no hearings and no day in
court,” even though two-thirds of internees were American citizens.
“My father learned about the constitution in
high school … and was dismayed the Supreme Court did not find it
unconstitutional,” she added.
Another student asked what kept the internees
A chain-link fence, several panelists replied.
One described seeing a man shot when he ventured
too close to the fence. Another noted that half the internees were
children not inclined to flee.
Asked what their best memories were of the
camps, as well as the worst, most pointed to the friendships they made —
with people they otherwise would never have met — as the best thing to
come out of the experience.
But there was a lot of bad, the survivors said,
including waking up every morning to the sight of barbed-wire fences.
Honda has said her father came out of the
experience as “one of the most kind and gentle people I know.”
It was his story — as well as her work as a
child psychologist in Davis working with children who have been
neglected, abused or traumatized — that led her to write “The Cat
Who Chose to Dream.”
The book features the artwork of Jimmy Tsutomu
Mirikitani, who spent much of World War II at the Tule Lake internment
camp, and features a special forward by actor George Takei, who also was
imprisoned at Tule Lake.
Honda read aloud from the book during
Korematsu’s celebration and will have upcoming book readings as well,
including at The Avid Reader in May.
DAVIS — Dr. Loriene Honda, author of “The Cat Who Chose to Dream,” will give a book reading and signing at two events in Davis this week.
• Thursday, Jan. 30, from 6:30 to 8 p.m. at Fred T. Korematsu Elementary School at Mace Ranch, 3100 Loyola Dr.; (530) 757-5358. Books will be available for purchase; 40 percent of all sales will be donated to the Korematsu Elementary Parent Teacher Organization.
This event is the climactic finish to the school’s month-long study of civil rights and showcases studies in and understanding of social climate issues. Performances will include songs and poems presented by the kindergarten and transitional kindergarten classes, and a song sung by second- and third-graders. There also will be a panel discussion about life in the World War II internment camps and changes since then.
Fred Korematsu fought a decades-long court battle challenging the legal basis for the internment of Japanese Americans. The panel will include representatives who either lived in the camps themselves or are descendants of those who did. The interview will be led by Korematsu sixth-graders, and the questions posed to the panel have been drafted by the Korematsu classes and will be read by students.
There will be an opportunity to meet Honda and the panelists at a reception after Thursday evening’s presentations. According to Wes Hardaker of the Korematsu PTO, “Everyone attending will learn more about an important piece of our nation’s history through a student-led celebration.”
• Saturday, Feb. 1, from 2 to 3 p.m. at The Pence Gallery, 212 D St.; (530) 758-3370. Books will be available for purchase.
“The Cat Who Chose to Dream” is also available at The California Museum, 1020 O St., Sacramento; The Avid Reader, 617 2nd St., Davis; online at Amazon and Barnes & Noble; and directly from Martin Pearl Publishing.
The book shares the story of a cat’s choice to be incarcerated at a World War II prison camp as a gesture of loving support to the Japanese American family to whom he belongs. We witness through the cat’s eyes the devastating condition of the camp, as well as the sense of injustice he feels seeing his family go through this demoralizing experience.
Young readers also share in the cat’s triumph over feelings of hopelessness and anger, as they witness the cat’s use of breathing and visualization exercises that help transport his creative mind to a place in his heart where he no longer feels encumbered and restrained, but self-empowered and free.
Through the artwork of the late Jimmy Tsutomu Mirikitani, a Tule Lake internee whose story is told in the documentary “Cats of Mirikitani,” and the inclusion of therapeutic relaxation and visualization techniques, child psychologist and Davis resident Honda demonstrates how the imaginative mind can prove to be one’s most powerful tool in surpassing adversity.
Honda was recognized by Assemblymember Mariko Yamada (D-Davis) at the State Capitol on Thursday morning in observance of Fred Korematsu Day of Civil Liberties and the Constitution. Jan. 30 is the late civil rights icon’s birthday.
Public invited to celebration, reading for Korematsu Day
By Jeff Hudson
From page A3 | January 28, 2014 |
Fred Korematsu proudly shows off his Presidential Medial of Freedom, awarded by President Bill Clinton. Korematsu died in 2005 at the age of 86. Photo courtesy of Fred T. Korematsu Institute for Civil Rights and Education
Families affiliated with Korematsu Elementary School and people from the Davis community are invited to attend the school’s annual celebration of California’s Fred T. Korematsu Day of Civil Liberties and the Constitution.
The event will run from 6:30 to 8 p.m. Thursday at Korematsu Elementary, 3100 Loyola Drive in Davis. It is the climactic finish to the school’s monthlong study of civil rights and showcases studies in and understanding of social climate issues.
Performances will include songs and poems presented by the kindergarten and transitional kindergarten classes, and a song sung by second- and third-graders.
There also will be a panel discussion about life in the World War II internment camps and changes since then.
Fred T. Korematsu, for whom the school is named, fought a decades-long court battle challenging the legal basis for the internment of Japanese-Americans during the war. The panel will include representatives who either lived in the internment camps themselves or are descendants of those who did. The interview will be led by Korematsu sixth-graders, and the questions posed to the panel have been drafted by the Korematsu classes and will be read by students.
The evening also will include a reading by author Loriene Honda, a psychologist and Davis resident who will present portions of her newly published book for young readers, “The Cat Who Chose to Dream,” which deals with the internment camp experience.
Assemblywoman Mariko Yamada, D-Davis, will recognize Honda on the Assembly floor on Thursday. Honda will be accompanied by her father, Lawrence Honda, who was interned at the Manzanar War Relocation Center during World War II. Yamada’s family members also were Manzanar internees.
There will be an opportunity to meet Honda and the panelists at a reception after Thursday evening’s presentations.
According to Wes Hardaker of the Korematsu Parent Teacher Organization, “everyone attending will learn more about an important piece of our nation’s history through a student-led celebration.”
For Immediate Release: span>January 27, 2014
Contact: Cat Nou – (916) 319-2004
Fred Korematsu Day of Civil Liberties and the
Assemblymember Mariko Yamada (D-Davis) will recognize Davis constituent
and children’s book author, Dr. Loriene Honda, on the Assembly Floor on
“Fred Korematsu Day”, Thursday, January 30th. Dr. Honda will
be accompanied by her father, Mr. Lawrence Honda, who was interned at
the Manzanar War Relocation Center during World War II. Assemblymember
Yamada’s family members were also Manzanar internees.
“In honor of Fred Korematsu Day, it is
important to reflect upon our civil rights and the heroes who stood up
to protect them,” stated Assemblymember Yamada.
“Inspired by illustrations by the late
renowned artist and Sacramento native, Jimmy Tsutomu Mirikitani, Dr.
Honda’s book, ‘The Cat Who Chose to Dream’ tells Jimmy the Cat’s tale of
triumph over tragedy and freedom over fear during the Japanese American
internment during World War II. My hope is that young readers will be
empowered to stand up for themselves and for others by reading this
Dr. Honda is a child and adolescent
psychologist, using art to help children distance themselves from the
pain of abuse and neglect so that they can make strides towards healing.
Currently, Dr. Honda serves her community through her private practice
In 2010, AB 1775 established the “Fred
Korematsu Day of Civil Liberties and the Constitution” to honor Asian
American Civil Rights Hero, Fred Korematsu, who defied orders of removal
during World War II. His failure to report to the internment camp later
became the subject of a Supreme Court case challenging the
constitutionality of forced incarceration of Japanese American citizens.
Assemblymember Yamada will host a reception in
honor of Dr. Honda and her book at 10:00 am in Capitol Room 317. Members
of the public are invited to attend. Please RSVP by calling (916)
"Dr. Loriene Honda artfully presents a little-known
dark chapter in American history–the World War II Japanese-American
internment. Jimmy Mirikitani's hauntingly beautiful drawings live on through
an uplifting story of triumph over tragedy and freedom over fear, leaving
readers hearts, young and old, filled with the universality of hope. As the
daughter of Manzanar internees, I sincerely thank her for sharing Jimmy the
California Assembly, Fourth District
Dr. Honda's book proves that cats really do have
nine lives. Bringing to life Jimmy Mirikitani's childhood in the WWII prison
camps for Japanese Americans through his remarkable paintings is an amazing
convergence of history, healing and hope. Children will not only delight in
the colorful images, but will easily identify with Jimmy, the loveable and
loving cat, while being irresistibly drawn to mindful breathing and
ultimately, healing from their own trauma. A valuable tool for parents,
teachers and therapists.
–Satsuki Ina, Ph.D.
Emmy award-winning filmmaker and Psychologist
"Jimmy was a brilliant star in the universe who I
had the privilege of knowing…his work is now preserved in many ways and
places. This book is yet another moment I get to spend with Jimmy. I will
cherish this book."
“…a beautiful and sensitive book…illustrates the
power of the mind to find hope in the midst of trauma and loss–and how the
protective capacity of the imagination can foster resilience. With simple
narrative and evocative images, the reader is engaged on multiple
levels–emotional, cognitive and visceral. …a valuable resource for any
parent, teacher or therapist to help provoke thought and discussion with
children about traumatic loss in a gentle and nurturing way.”
–Bruce D. Perry, M.D., Ph.D.
Internationally-recognized child trauma
consultant and expert witness on high-profile incidents, including the
Columbine High School massacre, Oklahoma City bombing, Waco siege, and YFZ
Ranch custody cases.
“…deeply moving and immediately useful…shows how
traumatic events can be managed by maintaining a focus on things that can be
controlled: our refusal to be captured fully, the freedom of our hearts and
minds, and the value of our own reparative mechanisms that allow us to break
our isolation, and touch others with our voices, our images, and our words
–Eliana Gil, Ph.D.
Renowned lecturer, author and clinician
“…creatively helps children to understand injustice,
resilience, and adaptation. By weaving the story of a cat who accompanies a
Japanese-American family in the World War II internment camps, Loriene Honda
successfully helps to promote emotional insight, optimism, and adaptation
strategies in children."
–Stanley Sue, Ph.D.
Professor and Director, Center for Excellence in
Diversity, Palo Alto University
“…a delightful, creative and instructive book…This
book will have huge educative value both at home and school settings...(it
is) important that the lessons from these events continue to be presented. “
–Chester M. Pierce, M.D.
Professor Emeritus of Psychiatry and Education
at Harvard University
Loriene Honda, whose own father was held at the
Manzanar “Relocation” Center as a young teenager, is a child and adolescent
psychologist who received her training and education at Harvard University
and Columbia University. For over 12 years, she has worked first as a
clinician and later as Clinical Director of Child Haven, a family mental
health agency specializing in the care and treatment of children who suffer
from the effects of physical abuse and neglect. In much of her work with
traumatized children, Dr. Honda uses art as a way of helping children gain
some safe distance from the painful impact of their haunting memories and as
a tool with which they can finally heal. Dr. Honda has a private practice in
Davis, where she resides with her husband and their three children.