'Hello Maggie' a touching tale of friendship between boy and bird in WWII internment camp

CODY, Wyoming (KABC) -- Sometimes our most difficult challenges provide our greatest rewards.

As a child, Shig Yabu lived through a dark chapter in our country's history, the internment of Japanese-Americans in camps during World War II.

But he found beauty in the darkness thanks to a little bird.

Shig, now an 86-year-old Southern Californian, was living in a Wyoming internment camp with his family at 10 years old when a magpie hatchling came tumbling out of a nest.

Shig brought little Maggie back to his family's home in the camp and adopted her.

He found she loved human company - and particularly adored being scratched on the head.

He would often say "Hello Maggie" and was startled one day to hear the bird repeat back to him "Hello Maggie!"

Years later as he recalled his special friendship with Maggie, Shig decided to write a children's book.

He contacted an old friend, Willie Ito, who happens to be an accomplished illustrator. Among Ito's achievements - working on the iconic spaghetti kissing scene in Disney's "Lady and the Tramp."

The story of the friendship between young Shig Yabu and Maggie the magpie will live on forever in "Hello Maggie."

Shig continues to visit the site of the Wyoming camp where he was interned and the site where Maggie was buried - seemingly heartbroken as the war's end resulted in an emptying of the camp and a loss of all the people she had grown to love.

"I know she has passed away," Shig said. "But my thought was if you can hear me, Maggie, thank you for all the love you gave all of us."

Maggie seemed to die of a broken heart at the end of the war as all her friends were leaving the internment camp.

Maggie seemed to die of a broken heart at the end of the war as all her friends were leaving the internment camp.

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