My Brother, My Sister, and I

Thirteen-year-old Yoko and her older brother and sister live in abject poverty in Japan at the end of World War II. When the clog factory warehouse they call home is destroyed by fire, their lives become even more desperate, particularly when Yoko’s sister, Ko, is injured and must be hospitalized and her brother, Hideyo, is accused of murder. "Beautifully direct and emotionally honest." (
Year of Publication
Number of Pages
Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers
New York, New York
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Average: 5 (1 vote)


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A Review for My Brother, My Sister, and I

Field of Interest/Specialty: Reading
Posted On: 05/27/2013

Jeannette Costa
Intervention Specialist (K-6)
Grace S. Beck Elementary (Shikellamy School District)
My Brother, My Sister, and I – Yoko Kawashima Watkins
Yoko is a thirteen year old girl living in Kyoto, Japan with her older brother and sister as refugees after World War II. Their mother died, and their father was imprisoned in Siberia. During the six long years that their father is away, Yoko and her siblings endure numerous difficult situations such as homelessness, poverty, life-threatening injuries, and thieves. Through all of their hardships, they maintain and cherish their relationships. Yoko Kawashima Watkins writes…“My Brother, My Sister, and I is the story of that difficult period of my life.”
My Brother, My Sister, and I is the sequel to So Far from the Bamboo Grove. Even though it will provide a deeper background, it is not required to read So Far from the Bamboo Grove in order to comprehend the events within My Brother, My Sister, and I. This book has been named “Best Book for Young Adults” by the American Library Association. I will read this book aloud to my students in fifth and sixth grade, but I would also recommend using this book in courses for students in high school and universities.
This book has a lot of flexibility when implemented as a teaching tool. History educators can use it when teaching about life in Japan after World War II. The book also discusses family lineages and the shoguns in Japan. Educators can use this book to discuss a number of things from the effects of the war on Japan to the effects from bullying. Bullying is present throughout this story, and Yoko learns to overcome petty troublemaking through serenity. This book can also be used for a family and consumer science course, as you will discover the fine stitches are needed when making a kimono or learning how to cook daikon greens and sukiyaki. Since many motivational and inspiring quotes are used throughout this book, one could even use it to teach character development. For example, students could make a character map from one of the characters and then make a map of themselves to compare and contrast the two.
Many life lessons are learned throughout this book, and I believe the underlying lesson or message is the value of human life. Even though My Brother, My Sister, and I can be read on any day throughout the year, I would recommend reading this book to your class prior to the December/ January holiday break. One reason for this recommendation is that a great portion of the book discusses the preparation and celebration of the New Year. This would be a great time to research the Asian New Year and how other families celebrate the holiday. The second reason is that many of our students are with their family during this time of the school year. Since this book teaches the appreciation of family, honor, and love, I believe it would be a reminder for our students to think about how they treat their family members. My Brother, My Sister, and I is a beautiful and emotional story that readers of all ages will appreciate and value for many years.