Category Archives: Under the Blood-Red Sun

Under the Blood-Red Sun

Tomi liked to play baseball at diamond grass. The field shone like diamonds when the dewdrops sparkled in the morning sun. Tomi found refuge there, away from the chaos of life in Honolulu.

Mama knew all about chaos. She’d fled the poverty of Japan by becoming a picture bride, sailing to Honolulu to marry a sugarcane worker she’d never met. Her future husband was killed in a gambling fight, leaving Mama stranded in a fisherman’s hut. Papa heard her story and claimed her for his own.

Grampa loved Japan. He took great pride in his enormous Japanese flag, washing it with care and leaving it hanging to dry in the open air. When Tomi came home and saw it waving in the breeze, he was rattled. “Grampa! Take that thing down!” In 1941, Japanese were not always welcome on the streets of Hawaii.

One Sunday morning, Tomi and his friend Billy were playing ball when clouds of smoke spiraled into the sky. Explosions rocked Pearl Harbor. Tomi was shocked to see amber planes emblazoned with a blood-red sun. Japanese planes were bombing his home!

As the Japanese warplanes bombarded the coast, Papa was out fishing in his sampan. American forces opened fire on every ship without an American flag. Papa took a bullet to his leg, and was hauled away to Sand Island. Within days, a black car arrived at Tomi’s home. Two huge men had come for Grampa. They covered Grampa’s mouth as he screamed, and shoved Tomi into the weeds.

Hatred for Japan surged across the island. Japanese fathers were arrested or killed, leaving their children to fend for themselves. Mama was fired. Tomi’s family was watched with open suspicion. Tomi knew the day had come to lead his family, long before he was ready, with enemies on every side.

Under the Blood-Red Sun provides a riveting view of what Japanese Americans endured at the time of the bombing of Pearl Harbor. Loyalties were tested to the extreme as military and volunteer brigades strung barbed wire around the schools and excavated bomb shelters in public parks. As he strived to free his innocent father, Tomi was incredibly brave, facing angry guards and cruel soldiers who would not hesitate to shoot him. In the midst of all the hostilities, bold friends brought Tomi gifts of love and hope that brightened his days of fear.

Graham Salisbury has received numerous awards for his work, including the Scott O’Dell Award for Historical Fiction, the Library of Congress Notable Children’s Book of the Year, and the Best Books for Young Adults (American Library Association).

Visit Graham Salisbury at:

–Kate Calina