Saturday, August 26, 2023

BOUNTIFUL RED ACRES by Eileen Heyes: A Review, Author Interview and Giveaway

 It is my pleasure to introduce Bountiful Red Acres by my North Carolina friend, Eileen Heyes. Written for third-eighth graders, it details a year in the life of two families one Black and one White in Surry County, as they move from season to season in 1900. The book is beautifully illustrated by Dare Coulter and is a welcome North Carolina resource published in 2023. All illustrations are used with permission of the NC Department of Natural and Cultural Resources.


This is the story of an ordinary year in the lives of two ordinary families, raising crops, rearing children, building community. (p.5)

INTRODUCTIONS

The book opens with touching introductions by descendants of both the Sawyers and Hauser families. Mary Hauser and Janie Hauser Morgan wrote: "Reading about the Sawyerses and Hausers as neighbors and community members brings beautiful new texture to the lives we imagined when we visited Shoals and depth to our understanding of North Carolina's Piedmont...lives are both deeply intertwined yet separate, bound by the rhythms of the same seasons, and also made starkly different by the legacy of slavery." 

Jerry Ward, a Sawyers descendant wrote, "I am excited and thankful that my family lived their lives so that, even after the passing of more than a century, they and the Hauser family are still touching lives today."

Eileen writes in her prologue, "What's so special about this community, Shoals Township? Well, nothing. "And that's the point. All across the Piedmont at the turn of the twentieth century, many rural communities were a lot like Shoals."

Each season includes information about the annual activities that comprise normal life. The book shows how Blacks and whites lived
separately and yet their lives were intertwined in work and play. Each season has a sidebar with details about daily life that might be unfamiliar to students. 

REVIEW

Winter

In the cold months of winter,...rural families work as hard as ever. 

A squirrel hunting party sets off on January 1, 1900.

Today's young readers might be aware of hunting, preserving food, chopping wood, or quilting, 


Neighbors quilting together.

but I wonder how many have thought about a different chore--harvesting ice. Along with other neighbors, Adam Sawyers and his sons helped hack and haul six feet square blocks of ice to the Hauser's icehouse. Everyone who worked received a share of the ice when they needed it during the hot summer. 



The sidebar for Winter describes how ice was made from the dammed creek and stored in a cellar-like hole that is lined with straw and insulated with sawdust.

SPRING

The windows were opened wide to let in fresh air and the school year was over. Children were free to help on the farm--indoors and out. They were needed to help with spring cleaning, cooking, and harrowing and planting fields. 



Although this was a hopeful time of year with flowers budding, it also brought sadness to the Sawyers family. Annually on Good Friday, Mr. Sawyers took his son Preston to the Hauser family graveyard to tend to the graves of his four baby sons. Along the way, Mr. Sawyers explained that the township didn't have an African-American graveyard. So, they turned to their friends, the Hausers who made room for his sons.


Mr. Sawyers at the cemetery.

The sidebar for Spring discusses segregation and some of the economic effects on Blacks.

Summer



Fruits were ripe and plentiful on both the Sawyers' and Hauser's farms. Plums, apples, and blackberries were picked, dried, and preserved for the cooler months.  Children helped with the weeding, cutting lumber, picking off tobacco worms, and feeding the livestock. It took a lot of work to keep hungry families fed and functioning.



The sidebar for Summer is about the once-every-decade census. Nathanael Boydon visited all the families in Shoals and often stayed for dinner. When he didn't get around to visit every family, he filled in the forms anyway. No one bothered to correct him. 


FALL


 
Harvesting honey was a huge task that involved lots of time and several pairs of hands. Even the drained beeswax was used and made into candles. The Shoals farm families were busy harvesting, canning, and making just about everything from apples that you can imagine. Nothing went to waste. Even the corn husks were put to use--as dolls or in the privy or stuffed into bed ticks.

The children returned to school in November. The African-American children went to a one-room schoolhouse where Dalton Sawyers taught 21 children in all six grades. Since the White school burned down a year earlier, they were schooled in groups in private homes.






The sidebar from Fall talks about common modes of transportation. Although Thomas Hauser owned a surrey, most folks got around by walking. 

The book ends with a return to winter and an epilogue in which the author shares how the two farms eventually became the Horne Creek Living Historical Farm. Admission is free--so buckle up the kids and experience life on a working farm in 1900.

INTERVIEW


CAROL: How did you end up writing this book?  Did you approach the NC Department of Natural and Cultural Resources with the idea or did they come to you? Did they set the parameters of the book? 


EILEEN: The book that became Bountiful Red Acres had a kind of complicated, twisty history. I'll spare you several years of backstory on that. I was hired to write the story on recommendation from my dear friend, author-illustrator Anne Runyon. By that time the folks at DNCR had decided what they wanted was a book about the Sawyers and Hauser families, who lived on what is now a State Historic Site called Horne Creek Living Historical Farm. It's a beautiful site, in Surry County, south of Pilot Mountain State Park. 


The only parameters my editors gave me were that my story should have a narrative structure and a child's point of view. Then, in consultation with the site manager at the farm, Lisa Turney, I settled on telling the story of the year 1900 from the POVs of 10-year-old Preston Sawyers and 12-year-old Robert Hauser -- perfect ages for a book aimed at 4th-grade readers.


 

CAROL: Since its publication, have you heard if teachers are using it in classrooms? Perhaps as part of NC studies?


EILEEN: I know of at least one teacher who plans on using it in her classroom at Durham's R.N. Harris Elementary. Also, Rodney Dawson, an Education and interpretation Specialist with the N.C. African American Heritage Commission has been promoting my book as a resource for teachers. And I've been delighted to see the Sawyers and Hauser descendants embracing my book. One Hauser descendant bought copies to donate to all the schools in Surry County, plus more to distribute among his family members.


What I hope students and teachers will get out of this book is a glimpse of the "missing middle" in our history. When we study history, we tend to focus on heroes and achievers, or we study conflicts and victims. But we give a lot less attention to ordinary people and how they lived, how they kept moving through every day, year after year and kept the world turning. This is who the Sawyerses and Hausers were -- a Black family and a white family who had adjacent farms in a time when law and custom kept Blacks and whites apart in many aspects of life. Here in their ordinary farming community of Shoals, the Sawyerses and Hausers were friends. Despite the pervasive racial and economic inequalities, these two families farmed successfully, they made sure their children got an education, they lived with dignity and they just plain carried on.



CAROL: Please speak about the research process. What was fun and joyful, what was difficult (and maybe?) depressing or discouraging?  How long did you research before you started writing?


EILEEN: Research for this project was easier than for most nonfiction because most of what I needed was in the files at Horne Creek Farm. Back in the 1980s and '90s, when the farm was being prepared as a State Historic Site, other researchers had searched out the histories of the community, the property, and the two families. Site Manager Lisa Turney was my guide through those existing resources. Another really helpful source was a newspaper called The Progressive Farmer out of Winston, N.C., which is digitized in the Library of Congress's "Chronicling America" collection. Great online resource for anyone wanting to re-create American history!


The research, outlining, drafting, and writing unfolded over several years, for a variety of reasons. It was an unusually leisurely project.


The most fun part for me was visiting the farm, which of course I had to do in each season to portray the changing sights, sounds, and fragrances of the farm in the course of a year. Spending time on site helped me sort through the mountain of information and pick out the details I wanted to use, the specific facts that would bring the story to life for young readers. I set out to hit a target length of 4,000-6,000 words but ended up at more like 7,600 words because there were just so darn many interesting details to include -- and my editors agreed, it all needed to be there. 


I'd also like to say, I love the way artist Dare Coulter brought her own insights to the story. As you know, an author has no input on how a book is illustrated. I had seen Dare's work and was thrilled to learn that she would be on the project. Sure enough, her art added a whole different dimension to the story. And big credit to Sheilah Barrett Carroll, the book's designer and editor, who pulled everything together into a cohesive whole. I am grateful for the privilege of working with both of these talented women!


GIVEAWAY

If you're interested in winning this unique book, please leave me a comment by August 29. If you prefer, you can always email me. If you are new to my blog or are from North Carolina, I'll put your name in twice; just let me know in the comments. 

                                        *****
Congratulations to Gail Hurlburt who won The Pie That Molly Grew and to JoLynn Worden and Kathy Dykstra who won copies of Disconnected.

Don't forget to check out other great MG books on Greg Pattridge's Marvelous Middle-Grade Monday blog.



Friday, August 18, 2023

THE PIE THAT MOLLY GREW: A Picture Book Review and Mini-Author Interview

This must be the season for new picture books because my email box is full of books waiting to be reviewed. I'm happy to share one by author and self-proclaimed backyard explorer, Sue Heavenrich



The Pie That Molly Grew  (Sleeping Bear Press: 2023) combines the rhythm of the nursery rhyme, This is the House that Jack Built with the science of growing pumpkins. It ends with a yummy feast and STEM back matter (including directions for scooping out a pumpkin and a pie recipe) that every preK-first grade teacher will love. 

REVIEW

Here is the opening page which reflects the simple beginning of what becomes an enormous plant.


The lyrical book proceeds to show Molly planting the seed and watching it sprout. Next, she plants it in her garden:


         "to grow from the seed that Molly sowed."

(Are you starting to hear the rhythm?)

Next to arrive on the scene are leaves as "big as your head turning sunlight to food wherever they spread."

As Molly tends to her pumpkin plant, the vine grows and grows and begins to produce blossoms.


The author makes sure that her readers understand the important role that bees have in pollination.


Molly proudly displays her pumpkin "big and round" which is "sliced and diced and baked in a pan and left on the table till feasting began."


for the seed and the sprout,

for the vine and the leaves,

for the flowers that nourished the hardworking bees.

And the wonderful pie that Molly made.

Parents, grandparents, and educators-beware! Every child who hears this book will want to: 

a) scoop out a pumpkin and save the seeds

b) make a pie

c) plant pumpkin seeds next spring!

Chamisa Kellog's bright illustrations will grab young readers' attention as they are drawn into The Pie That Molly Grew

Mini-Author Interview

Carol: I’m curious about the different types of bees that you have seen pollinating your garden. Can you talk about that a bit?

 

Sue: I love watching the insects that share my garden and listening to their buzzing and humming. I started looking at them more closely when I became one of the community science volunteers at the Great Sunflower Project (https://www.greatsunflower.org), growing flowers for – and counting – the pollinators in my garden. And by “growing flowers” I mean that I allow flowers that some folks call weeds to grow in my garden bed: Queen Anne’s lace, yarrow, dead nettle, mullien, red clover – the bees love clover! I don’t know the names to all the bees that visit, but I’ll see common eastern bumble bees, tricolor bumble bees, yellow bumble bees, carpenter bees (they are the ones with shiny bee butts!), leafcutter bees, metallic green sweat bees, and squash bees. There are also a number of flower-pollinating flies, too.


A bee doing her job in Sue's garden.

Carol: Do you ever save your pumpkin seeds?

 

Sue: I do. Saving the seeds from a pumpkin is pretty easy: cut open the pumpkin (which you have to do whether you’re baking it for pie or making a jack-o-lantern) and scoop out the guts. Then I pull out bunches of seeds and rinse them in a strainer to get the strings off, and let them dry on a wax paper-lined cookie sheet for a few days. Pumpkins are related to other squashes,  cukes, and melons, and sometimes they can be cross-pollinated. So you might get a surprise when you plant your saved seeds – especially if your pumpkins were growing within flight distance of zucchinis. But hey! It’s science. 


                                            *****


To read Sue's answers to some commonly asked questions, check out Chamisa's interview on Sue's blog.

Here are more blogs that are featuring Molly this week and next:

Aug 15 - at Vivian Kirkfield's blog for a Book Birthday & giveaway
 
 Aug. 16 - we'll join the STEAMTeam at Maria Marshall’s blog, The Picture Book Buzz

Aug. 18 - at Carol Baldwin’s blog & a giveaway!

Aug. 23 - with Kathy Halsey on the GROG blog

Aug. 25 - over at Beth Anderson's blog

Aug 28 - with Lauri Fortino at Frog on a Blog

GIVEAWAY

Sleeping Bear Press is providing a giveaway copy. If you are interested in winning this informative and fun book, please leave me a comment by August 21. As usual, if you share this post on social media or are an educator or librarian, you get an extra chance. If you are new to my blog, please leave your email address. U.S. addresses only. If you prefer, email me to enter the giveaway.

Tuesday, August 15, 2023

DISCONNECTED by Riley Cross: A Book Review by Guest Blogger, Georgie Bartlett

Please welcome a new teen blogger, Georgie Bartlett. You can read about her and the giveaway below her review.



REVIEW

I thoroughly enjoyed Disconnected (Monarch: 2023) for a myriad of reasons, one of them being that it was an interesting and thought-provoking story from start to finish. Riley Cross has a way of making you feel as if you are really in Unity, Chiara’s controlled and restricted world. 


The main character, Chiara, was born a third-generation Anomaly, meaning she was the result of her parents falling in love rather than a perfect genetic match chosen by Auto. Inside Unity are those deemed worthy of citizenship, and outside of the circular walls of this futuristic civilization live the Streamless, the social outcasts. Unity’s inhabitants have been taught that the Streamless are mindless and incapable of functioning; just one of the many lies they have been fed since birth. The all-powerful artificial intelligence, Auto, controls the virtual world (the DataStream), and essentially rules over the citizens of Unity.  


When her mother and father die under mysterious circumstances, Chiara is orphaned and put under the care of her enigmatic Grandfather. When he also dies mysteriously and Chiara’s memory is wiped, she begins her mission to collect the shattered fragments of her mind, uncover the truth, and ignore the awful headaches, nightmares, and visions plaguing her. She also needs to escape Unity. In doing this, she has to decide whether or not she can leave her childhood best friend, Silas, possibly forever.  


Something that really stuck with me throughout the book was the phrase “Always with you,” which Chiara’s Grandfather tells her. I loved that he always had something to steady her. You can actually learn a lot from Grandfather and Auto about the plethora of dangers attached to AI and the gradual development of technology, and I positively love a fiction book that can teach me something. It had me thinking, could our society get to this point eventually?  


The characters in Disconnected felt so real, sometimes I forgot they were fictional, which is certainly a distinguishing characteristic of good writing. Among the main characters, there were arguments, conflicts, and heartbreak, but they all manage to put everything aside and come together in the end. I related to Chiara’s struggle with staying true to herself in an abrasive society. 


I am still thinking about this story, which is always a good sign when it comes to a novel. I adored how the evil of Auto was combated by books and the Forbidden Library which were all preserved in Chiara’s mind. She actually quotes Robert Frost at one point, and I have to say, that only helped to raise this book in my estimation. He is by far my favorite poet, and this book is by far one of my favorites I’ve read this year.  


 I don’t often read Sci-Fi, but Disconnected had me engaged from the start. The plot always kept moving, keeping me interested and wanting to read more. I recommend this to anyone with a penchant for Science Fiction. This book is an entirely clean read, which is one of the many things I appreciated about it. It does contain some graphic imagery surrounding Grandfather’s death, so I would recommend this book for readers ages 13 and up. If you want a novel that’s suspenseful and captivating, then Disconnected is a wonderful book to add to your TBR. I believe you will love it! 


ABOUT THE REVIEWER


Georgie Bartlett is a teen living in the beautiful mountains of North Carolina with her family and two mischievous rescue dogs. She enjoys writing, crocheting, journaling, gardening, playing the drums, and above all, reading. 





GIVEAWAY

Monarch Publishing is giving away a paperback copy and an Ebook version for two of my blog readers. To enter the giveaway, please leave a comment by August 22 with your email address if you are new to my blog. This would make a great gift for the young Science Fiction reader in your life -- or as an addition to your library. You can also email me to enter the contest. If you share this on social media or start following my blog I will enter your name twice. U.S. addresses only for the paperback. 


Friday, August 11, 2023

ARMANDO'S ISLAND: A Picture Book Review, Author Interview, and Giveaway



From the publisher:

Armando's home is the rainforest—he knows its sights, smells, tastes, and sounds. He even knows its moods. From the bottom of the forest floor to the top of the emergent layer, the trees are also home to a multitude of creatures. When outsiders begin laying claim to and destroying the surrounding landscape, the displaced animals find refuge with Armando in the only remaining pocket of untouched forest, his "island." As people come in and animals are forced out, this poignant tale shows the cumulative and disastrous effects of Amazonian deforestation. (The Creative Company: 2023)

                                                                        ***

It is always a pleasure to review one of Marsha Diane Arnold's beautifully written picture books. For those of you who have been following my blog for a while, you may remember Badger's Perfect Garden, Mine. Yours., Lights Out, or Galapagos Girl. (if you're new to my blog, check those titles out!). 


Marsha's love for animals, nature, and conserving the environment is present in her newly released book, ARMANDO'S ISLAND. This time, as the book blurb indicated, it's a story about a young boy growing up surrounded by the animals of the Amazon rainforest.  

REVIEW

The book sets the stage with this word picture:

Beneath a canopy of trees, flowing like green ocean, 
in an ancient forest
lived Armando.

and this illustration: 




Marsha describes Armando's life in sensory language:

Walking barefoot, leaves crunching beneath him, 

playing among riverbanks, mud squishing between toes

skipping across fallen logs, grasshoppers jumping, 

climbing liana vines, lizards scrambling beside him

he felt connected to his leafy refuge.

Armando grows, as does his love for the rainforest.




Men and women come to Armando asking him to sell his land. They promise him great wealth in return. Repeatedly, Armando refuses.

"I am rich already," said Armando,

gazing at the emerald green surrounding him.

Each conversation is followed by a scene showing the machinery destroying the rainforest and the animals and birds fleeing to Armando's land.




In the morning, to the east, a great hammering and

sharp drilling 

wailed through the air.


Dolphins stopped swimming.

Otters stopped sliding.

Capybaras stopped bathing.

Hummingbirds left their dance beneath the waterfall

as they fled, to the west, to Armando's. 

The expressions on the animals' faces reflect their emotions as they face their homes destruction.



 

In the end, 

Now, Armando's home stands crowded and apart,

an island of emerald green, shimmering in the sunlight.


Sometimes the people to the north, south, east, and west

glance at Armando's island, fragile in the mist.

Armando hopes that some morning with the first song of the toucan,

a long-ago memory will come to them...


Anne Yvonne's lush illustrations compliment Marsha's lyrical language and immerse readers into the interconnections of the rainforest's ecosystem. I loved how she even showed the feelings of the animals who are displaced.

Several pages show Armando on one side of the text along with the machinery destroying the forest on the other. 
 
To read the backstory behind Armando's Island (and how long it took to get this book out into the world!), please see Beth Anderson's blog post.

CURRICULUM RESOURCE

I picture Armando's Island used in Pre-K through third-grade classrooms. The back matter includes three pages of information and illustrations of animals in the Amazon rainforest. An activity guide will be available on the publisher's website on September 1--just in time for back to school!

AUTHOR INTERVIEW

CAROL: What was your inspiration for this book? It is so rich with detail—did you go to the Amazon yourself or is this from research?

MARSHA: I wish I could say I traveled to the Amazon, but the book came from research and from my great love of nature and rainforests. 

As I note in my Activity Guide, "There is a difference in knowledge by acquaintance and knowledge by knowing information. We may never travel to the Amazon rainforest, so we will not know it by acquaintance. But we can immerse ourselves as much as possible with videos, audios, books, and activities and we may know and appreciate it a little in this way."


I started researching Armando’s Island thirty years ago! At that time, I was involved with a number of conservation organizations, some working to protect the rainforests. Later, I visited Costa Rica and fell in love with the rainforests there. My husband and I built a casita in the rainforest years after that first visit. Macaws, monkeys, and toucans were our neighbors. 

CAROL: How did you get Armando’s name? Is he from a particular tribe?

MARSHA: I have no remembrance of where the name Armando came from. The rhythm of phrases is always important to me and I do think this has a lovely rhythm - Armando’s Island. I suspect I researched names common in Latin America. Armando is a multicultural name. In Latin America, it is associated with strength, courage, and a fierce loyalty to friends. The Armando in my book is certainly all of those.

The name is not from a particular tribe. I wrote the story as a fable, an ode to the rainforest and its animals and those who stand with them. Anne Yvonne did scrupulous research. She deliberately made Armando’s face paint and headdress non-specific, but he is identifiable as an indigenous Brazilian tribesman.

I love that a man named Armando, the only person I know with that name, invited me to join the 2008 Artists in the Back Country group of seven artists, chosen to spend a week in the High Sierras, painting, photographing, and writing. Another natural island. Serendipity?

CAROL: Do you consider this free verse poetry?  (seems so to me!)

MARSHA: I have always thought of it simply as lyrical writing, but free verse poetry sounds very nice to me. Thank you!

CAROL: Were you involved in the choice of the artist? Anne Yvonne is perfect for this book.  What medium does she use?

MARSHA: In a roundabout way you might say I was involved. At the end of Armando’s Island’s thirty-year journey, there were two publishers who offered a contractI knew that The Creative Company published beautiful books and in 2020 they had found the perfect illustrator, Susan Reagan, for my book on light pollution, Lights Out. I trusted them to find another perfect illustrator. They did not let me down. I was thrilled and humbled that someone of Anne Yvonne Gilbert’s caliber would be illustrating my book. She used colored pencils over-layered with sepia drawing ink. So beautiful.

CAROL: Whose idea was it to frame some of the text between an illustration of the machinery and the animals? That is brilliant juxtaposition. 

CAROL: The layouts were Anne Yvonne's ideas, approved by the art director, Rita Marshall. It is indeed a brilliant juxtaposition.

Thank you, Carol, for having me on your blog and for your insightful questions.

GIVEAWAY

To enter the giveaway, please leave me a comment along with your email address if you are new to my blog. U.S. addresses only. If you prefer, you can shoot me an email instead. If you are a home school educator, teacher, or librarian please let me know. You'll get two chances. The giveaway ends August 15. 



Saturday, August 5, 2023

TWO JAPANESE INTERNMENT GRAPHIC NOVEL REVIEWS

 In my search for graphic novels to help me understand the genre, I came across these two books in my local library. Although totally different from each other, they both share the common element of Japanese internment camps during WWII.

DISPLACEMENT by kiku hughes


The first page of this YA time travel novel provides a backstory to equip the reader for the coming story. Written in first person, the character Kiku, explains that it is 2016 and she's been trapped in the past for over a year.

She's in San Francisco with her mother who is searching for the house where her mother grew up in. They didn't find the house.


Instead, Kiku found displacement.


She is taken back to the 1940s to the Japanese internment camp to which her grandmother, Earnestina and her parents, were taken. The story interweaves Earnestina's story with fictional elements of Kiku's time travel.

Through expressive images and dialogue, the author shows Kiku's loneliness, confusion, helplessness, and gratitude when she makes a few friends. She overhears Earnestina speaking Japanese in the rooms next to hers, but can't understand the language. Her roommate, Aiko, doesn't encourage her to learn Japanese. Kiku thinks,

But seeing how she and other Nisei (second generation) shied away from the Issei's (first generation) outdated traditions made me understand a little more just why there was almost no connection to Japan left by the time I was born. (p. 96)

Life is physically and emotionally difficult in the camp and Kiku vacillates between waiting to return home and making the best of the situation. When a neighbor gives her a small carving with her name on it, she recognizes a similar item that her mother had that belonged to Earnestina. I felt an intense connection to my grandmother in that moment. We were linked through this community, and I held the proof in my hand." (p. 128)

She moves to the Topaz relocation center in Utah and hears that a friend's father was taken to an army camp. They fear that they might not hear from him because they took his books and maps which made the government suspicious. Being from the future meant very little when my education on the past was so limited. (p. 154)

The illustrations are drawn with clean lines and the character's emotions are clearly portrayed. A palette of aqua and brown provide a calming effect for the turbulent story that unfolds.

I thought that the author depicted the conflicts of this time and place extremely well. Although the time travel aspects and resolution to the story were also well constructed,  I didn't like that the protagonist fell in love with another girl. As a conservative Christian, that aspect of the book detracted from the book's overall appeal. After googling kiku hughes, I realized that the protagonist reflects the author's orientation. 

TAKE WHAT YOU CAN CARRY  by Kevin C. Pyle




Although this is also a graphic novel about the Japanese internment camps (with a surprisingly similar palette to Displacement), it is handled in a totally different manner. As you might assume from the cover, this is two stories in one book. The brown illustrations show the life of Mr. Himitsu as a young man in the Tanforan Assembly Center and then later in the internment camp in Manzanar, California in 1942. The blue illustrations depict six months in the life of Kyle, a young teen who recently moved into a Chicago suburb in 1978. Both stories progress through the book. Sometimes several pages are given to the Japanese internment camp, and sometimes several pages show Kyle choosing to go deeper and deeper into vandalism and shoplifting. 

At first, I didn't like that there was no dialogue in Mr. Himitsu's story, only illustrations. But the second time through I was able to "read" the illustrations better and saw how Kevin Pyle showed parallels between the two stories--thirty-five years apart. 
  • Each boy was in his own type of prison. 
  • Each boy faced teasing and ridicule.
  • Each boy faced unwelcome relocation.
  • Each boy experienced trauma that left them feeling powerless.
But, there are a lot of differences too.

In Mr. Himitsu's story, a mentor provides an opportunity for him to vent his anger--on a piece of wood. He carves and carves and by the time he leaves the camp, his suitcase is full of wooden birds. 

In Kyle's story, he has moved into a brand new neighborhood. He starts hanging out with some other boys they are a negative influence on each other. Kyle ends up destroying property and shoplifting--just for the thrill it gives him. The ending perfectly brings the two stories together.

Here are some pages that show you how the author juxtaposed the two stories.




I asked Kevin what his connection was to this story. Here is his answer:

"The most obvious is that I was caught for shoplifting when I was 11 or 12 and I worked for the storeowner as restitution. It really made me see the consequences of my actions. As an adult I did illustrations for the national law journal and once did one on alternatives to sentencing for youth and it made me think back on the experience. I realized I never knew if it was my father’s idea or the storeowner’s that I work off my debt and that sent my imagination rolling.

My other connection is that I had a painting teacher in college who was interned as a child. I wrote him while I was working on the book and he gave some good leads on research. He also read it before it was published and his comments were very inspiring and reassuring as to the accuracy. While the book was not intended as a straight history, I of course wanted to make sure it rang true."

Both authors drew from personal life events when writing and illustrating their graphic novels. As I plot Nightmare in Nuremberg, I'm aware that I'm doing the very same thing.

If you are interested, here is my review of Gaijin, another graphic novel about the Japanese internment camps. And my review of Red Berries, White Clouds, and Blue Sky

****

Congratulations to Sarah Johnson who won Southpaw Sully from last week's blog.

Don't forget to check out Greg Pattridge's MMGM blog with lots of other middle-grade book reviews!








 

THE COMPANION GUIDE FOR THE EMOTIONAL THESAURUS & A GIVEAWAY

  Although I moved to WordPress for my new website , I'm still having issues with sending out blog notifications. Here's this week&#...