Review: Who Gives a Poop?

Who Gives a Poop cover

Who Gives a Poop?
Surprising Science from One End to the OtherWho Gives a Poop?

By: Heather L. Montgomery, Illustrator: Iris Gottlieb
Bloomsbury Children’s Books/October 13, 2020
Ages 10-14, 192 pages

Here’s what the publisher says:

This uniquely crafted narrative nonfiction invites readers to follow the author into science labs, forests, hospitals, and landfills, as the author asks:

Who uses poo?

Poop is disgusting, but it’s also packed with potential. One scientist spent months training a dog to track dung to better understand elephant birthing patterns. Another discovered that mastodon poop years ago is the reason we enjoy pumpkin pie today. And every week, some folks deliver their own poop to medical facilities, where it is swirled, separated, and shipped off to a hospital to be transplanted into another human. There’s even a train full of human poop sludge that’s stuck without a home in Alabama.

This irreverent and engaging book shows that poop isn’t just waste-and that dealing with it responsibly is our duty.

Here’s what reviewers have said:

⭐  “A well-stirred slurry of facts and fun for strong-stomached “poop sleuths.””  —Kirkus Reviews (starred review)
⭐  “Feces have lots of great stories to tell… .” —BCCB (starred review)

And here are my thoughts:

OK, I have to confess: I had so much fun reading Who Gives a Poop?! Reading this book felt like I was walking through the woods on an exciting adventure with a trusted friend. The author’s voice is unfailingly authentic, and each chapter contains a ton of real science alongside genuine human emotion and just the right amount of humor. I think what I loved most about it, however, is how her passion for science and her reverence for curiosity comes through. She’s not afraid to ask questions, and she takes us along on her research trips to get those questions answered, as well as giving us an up-close view of her hands-on observations.

Even if you think you know all you need (or want) to know about poop, I guarantee you’ll take away loads of fascinating facts as well as many memorable stories about the scientists hunting for them. Readers of Who Gives a Poop? will thoroughly enjoy both the subject matter and the informal approach. One caution: I was peppering my family with random poop facts for days and days after reading this book. You’ve been warned! The footnotes and author’s note are lovely additions, as is the rest of the backmatter. Highly recommended for ages ten and up!

More about the book:

This fun video from the author, sharing the first chapter of Who Gives a Poop?, is not to be missed:

Click here for a fecal photo gallery from the author to go along with Who Gives a Poop?!

For more books by this author, visit https://heatherlmontgomery.com/.
Facts First! Nonfiction Monday

 

 

 

*** Disclosure: I received a digital preview copy from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. ***
 

Blog Tour: Growing Up Gorilla by Clare Hodgson Meeker

Growing Up Gorilla cover

Today I’m thrilled to be a part of the blog tour for Clare Hodgson Meeker’s new book, Growing Up Gorilla!

Growing Up Gorilla cover

GROWING UP GORILLA
by Clare Hodgson Meeker
Millbrook Press/September 3, 2019
Grades 3-6, 48 pages

Here’s what the publisher says about Growing Up Gorilla:

This heartwarming true story chronicles what happened after a mother gorilla gave birth for the first time and then walked away from her newborn baby at Seattle’s Woodland Park. The dedicated staff worked tirelessly to find innovative ways for mother and baby to build a relationship. The efforts were ultimately successful, as baby Yola bonded with her mother and the rest of the family group.

And here are my thoughts about Growing Up Gorilla:

This beautifully photo-illustrated nonfiction is both meticulously researched and lovingly told. Meeker does a fantastic job of bringing this true story to life in a very kid-friendly way, bringing us into the world of both the gorillas and their keepers in a way that keeps readers thoroughly absorbed at all times. There is something for everyone here, with plenty of drama and suspense as well as heart-tugging emotion and (spoiler alert!) a happy ending.
The book also contains a table of contents and extensive backmatter, including an author’s note, further reading/websites/videos, glossary, index, maps, primary source quotations/images, sidebars, and more.

AND, here’s my interview with the author of Growing Up Gorilla, Clare Hodgson Meeker!

LAT: Can you describe your writing process? Did Growing Up Gorilla require any particular changes to how your typical process?

CHM: Normally I don’t start writing a book until I’ve worked out the arc of the story from beginning to end and done enough research and interviewing to feel ready to tell the story with excitement and confidence. Preparing a proposal helps me organize my thoughts – outlining the story with chapter summaries helps me think in scenes and how I’m going to thread in the factual information I think is relevant. Once I have that, I can begin writing my first scene of the book and continue chronologically through the story. The only change in my writing process with Growing Up Gorilla was having to write a full draft before interviewing the gorilla keepers who were directly involved with helping Yola and her mother Nadiri bond. I was able to interview them once I had a publisher on board, which satisfied the Zoo’s requirements. However, the zoo staff did give me some access to the Keeper’s Daily Record book, which included their notes of what happened during the first few months after Yola’s birth, to help me write the first draft.

LAT: What do you find most challenging about writing for kids? About Growing Up Gorilla in particular?

CHM: I’ve taught writing in the schools to children for many years. When we talk about plot and what makes a story interesting, kids agree that there needs to be a problem that has to be solved and a main character they can relate to who wants something and/or has to solve the story problem. In writing a book about a baby gorilla whose mother initially refused to care for her after her birth, my challenge was to get children to relate to these characters and care about their problems. Children’s books should be action-oriented and avoid too much description or flashback. I had to choose carefully the places where I slowed down the action to describe a scene in more detail – like the night Nadiri went into labor where I wanted to show the close relationship between Nadiri and the infant care specialist who had hand-raised her at birth after Nadiri’s mother rejected her. I don’t believe in writing down to a certain grade level or limiting word choice to a grade-appropriate list. I think about presenting the story in the most natural way I can as though I am telling it to the reader sitting next to me.

LAT: What authors and or books do you most admire, and why? Did you have any specific mentor texts that you looked at for Growing Up Gorilla?

CHM: Katherine Applegate’s middle-grade novel The One and Only Ivan and her picture book Ivan: The Remarkable True Story of the Shopping Mall Gorilla are fantastic examples of a gorilla character and story that children can relate to and empathize with, in both a fictional version and in a more condensed nonfiction format.
CHM: I am also a big fan of Sy Montgomery, who has written many of the Scientists in the Field series books published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt. Her voice is so distinctive as she takes you on an adventure shadowing biologists and naturalists who are studying animals in the wild around the world and weaving in fascinating facts about them.

LAT: Outside of the writing itself, what kinds of things do you do that you feel help your writing career?

CHM: I am a life-long learner. I love taking classes in different writing genres, from poetry and picture books to essay and novel writing. Hugo House in Seattle is a wonderful place to take classes, get inspired, and meet others in the writing and reading community. I also enjoy writing conferences where I can get tips on writing and the business of writing listening to editors and talking with fellow children’s book authors.

LAT: What advice would you give to someone who is interested in writing nonfiction for kids?

CHM: Children’s nonfiction is a very popular genre today, especially STEM subjects (science, technology, engineering, and math). My advice is to choose a topic that you are excited about and willing to immerse yourself in, so that you can feel confident writing a story that kids and publishers will love. Think of creative ways to present your book idea, like Laurie Ann Thompson did in her Two Truths and a Lie series. It also helps to include themes that reflect the current elementary science or humanities curriculum standards so a publisher can market your book to schools and libraries.

LAT: Wow, thanks so much for that shout out, Clare! And thanks so much for including me in the blog tour for Growing Up Gorilla and for taking the time to do this interview for us.

Please check out the rest of the Growing Up Gorilla blog tour stops on the schedule below!

blog tour schedule

Review: Three Stars in the Night Sky

Zoo Scientists cover

Three Stars in the Night Sky cover

THREE STARS IN THE NIGHT SKY
by Fern Schumer Chapman
Gussie Rose Press/June 6, 2018
Grades 5-8, 56 pages

Here’s what the publisher says:

At the age of 12, Gerda Katz fled Nazi Germany and came to America all by herself. Decades before the label gained recognition, she became what’s now known as an “unaccompanied minor.” Gerda’s story of family separation reflects the dislocating trauma, culture shock, and excruciating loneliness many unaccompanied minor immigrants experience. As Gerda becomes an American, she never stops longing to be reunited with her family. Three Stars in the Night Sky illuminates the personal damage of racism in three countries – Nazi Germany, the Dominican Republic, and the United States during the 1930s and 40s — and the emotional devastation of a child coming to a new country alone.

And here are my thoughts:
This was an engaging, up close and personal look at an historical event that is sadly still relevant today for many reasons, including understanding World War II, anti-Semitism, refugees, and the very real impacts of immigration policies. There is also local relevancy here in western Washington state, as Gerda emigrated to Seattle to escape the persecution of Jews in Germany in 1938 and wound up facing the internment of the region’s Japanese-American citizens. I found the story and accompanying images to be interesting as well as informative. The format makes it looks like a picture book, but I would not recommend it for younger readers due to the sensitive topics covered and the way in which they are presented here. Highly recommended for grades 5 and up, however, whether as part of learning more about the World War II era or looking at current events through a historical lens. Gerda’s story will stick with me for some time to come, and I’m thankful to have had the opportunity to read about it.
For more books by this author, visit https://fernschumerchapman.com/.
*** Disclosure: I received a review copy from the publisher as part of judging the CYBILS contest. ***
Facts First! Nonfiction Monday

Review: Votes for Women!

Facts First! Nonfiction Monday

Votes for Women! cover
Votes for Women! American Suffragists and the Battle for the Ballot
by Winifred Conkling
Algonquin Young Readers, February 13, 2018

Grades 8-12, 320 pages

Here’s what the publisher says about Votes for Women!:

For nearly 150 years, American women did not have the right to vote. On August 18, 1920, they won that right, when the 19th Amendment to the Constitution was ratified at last. To achieve that victory, some of the fiercest, most passionate women in history marched, protested, and sometimes even broke the law—for more than eight decades.
From Susan B. Anthony and Elizabeth Cady Stanton, who founded the suffrage movement at the 1848 Seneca Falls Convention, to Sojourner Truth and her famous “Ain’t I a Woman?” speech, to Alice Paul, arrested and force-fed in prison, this is the story of the American women’s suffrage movement and the private lives that fueled its leaders’ dedication. Votes for Women! explores suffragists’ often powerful, sometimes difficult relationship with the intersecting temperance and abolition campaigns, and includes an unflinching look at some of the uglier moments in women’s fight for the vote.
By turns illuminating, harrowing, and empowering, Votes for Women! paints a vibrant picture of the women whose tireless battle still inspires political, human rights, and social justice activism.

And what the critics say about Votes for Women!:

  • “This is a fascinating account of the bumpy road to women’s suffrage in the U.S. . . . Well-chosen black-and-white archival reproductions and photographs ably support the text, which makes excellent use of primary sources, including excerpts from letters and writings to bring key personalities to life.” —The Horn Book Magazine (starred review)
  • “From the first Women’s Rights Convention in Seneca Falls in 1848 to the ratification of the 19th Amendment in 1920, this is a commanding and relevant account of sweeping, hard-won social reform and action.” —Publishers Weekly (starred review)
  • “Spanning multiple centuries, this work may be the most comprehensive account for young readers about the founders, leaders, organizers, and opponents of the American suffragist movement . . . Conkling delivers a tour de force.” —Kirkus Reviews (starred review)
  • “Looking for a comprehensive, well-written history of women’s fight for the right to vote? You’ve found it. Conkling draws readers in  . . . this is great for research as well as a good read.” —Booklist
  • “The intense drama of the 72-year battle for women’s suffrage springs vividly to life from the pages of this compulsively readable account.” —School Library Journal

And here are my thoughts about Votes for Women!:

I listened to this one as an audiobook as part of judging the CYBILS contest. I also plan to check out the print version so I can see the images and backmatter.
From the opening scene to the final chapter, I was completely drawn in. I thought I knew a fair bit about the history of the women’s suffrage movement, but it turns out I had only superficial knowledge of the people and events involved. I’m grateful to have been enlightened, although I’ll admit the experience wasn’t always easy nor pleasant. There were times when the injustices and insults endured by the women made me sputter with outrage. And there were other times when I was, literally, reduced to tears by the way they were treated. But mostly I was grateful for the courage and persistence of these heroic female leaders and buoyed by it. Conkling has brought these icons to life and given us a peek inside their daily lives in addition to their well-known accomplishments. I found it thoroughly engaging.
This book should be required reading in schools for both girls and boys. It offers important lessons not only in history but also in equality and fairness, grit and determination, group dynamics and social interactions, and power and process. It also feels quite timely in this era of resistance, activism, and #MeToo. Highly recommended.
Facts First! Nonfiction Monday

Review: Capsized! by Patricia Sutton

Facts First! Nonfiction Monday

Capsized! cover
Capsized! The Forgotten Story of the SS Eastland Disaster
by Patricia Sutton
Chicago Review Press (July 1, 2018)
Grades 5-8, 176 pages

Here’s what the publisher says about Capsized!:

A fascinating historical account of courage and tragedy on the Chicago River
On July 24, 1915, the SS Eastland, filled to capacity with 2,500 passengers and crew, capsized in the Chicago River while still moored to the pier. Happy picnic-goers headed for an employee outing across Lake Michigan suddenly found themselves in a struggle for their lives. Trapped belowdecks, crushed by the crowds attempting to escape the rising waters, or hurled into the river from the upper deck of the ship, roughly one-third of the passengers, mostly women and children, perished that day.
The Eastland disaster took more passenger lives than the Titanic and stands today as the greatest loss of life on the Great Lakes. Capsized! details the events leading up to the fateful day and provides a nail-biting, minute-by-minute account of the ship’s capsizing. From the courage of the survivors to the despair of families who lost loved ones, author Patricia Sutton brings to light the stories of ordinary working people enduring the unthinkable.
Capsized! also raises critical-thinking questions for young readers: Why do we know so much about the Titanic’s sinking yet so little about the Eastland disaster? What causes a tragedy to be forgotten and left out of society’s collective memory? And what lessons from this disaster might we be able to apply today?

And what the critics say about Capsized!:

    • “A true disaster story rivetingly told.” —Kirkus Reviews
    • “A badly designed ship, a careless captain, and decks jammed with 2,500 passengers are a recipe for disaster. Patricia Sutton describes the tragic launching of the SS Eastland in a dramatic, riveting narrative filled with the vivid firsthand accounts of those onboard that brings readers along on a harrowing day trip.” —Jim Murphy, author of Newbery Honor titles The Great Fire and An American Plague
    • “A riveting page-turner sure to grab readers’ attention. Patricia Sutton’s well-researched Capsized! will leave you shocked, saddened, and unable to put it down.” —Kate Hannigan, author of The Detective’s Assistant
    • “Through meticulous research and vivid prose, Sutton brings to life the little-known story of the Eastland ship disaster. Based on firsthand accounts of passengers, ship workers and bystanders, readers can experience the people and events that led to the sinking of the fastest steamship on the Great Lakes and its tragic aftermath.” —Claire Rudolf Murphy, author of Gold Rush Women and Marching with Aunt Susan
    • “The narrative-driven account, filled with quotes from individuals and newspapers, historical photos, and trial transcripts, is engaging and accessible…Extensive source notes, which account for every quote, as well as a bibliography, round out this informative, engrossing title.” —Booklist
    • “Capsized! is an excellent book for historical research and highly recommended for both middle and high school libraries.” — KidsReads

And here are my thoughts about Capsized!:

I read this one as part of judging the CYBILS, and I could not put it down! I started reading it one night in bed, intending to get in a quick chapter or two before turning off the light, but I didn’t stop until I’d read every last page.
I’m shocked, and frankly a little appalled, that I’d never heard of this event before. Thankfully, Sutton chose to dedicate herself to telling this little-known story, and she tells it very well. The book itself reads with all the suspense and drama of a well-paced novel, but you can see the research that went into this true story in the included source notes and bibliography. I particularly appreciated how Sutton spelled out the various cumulative reasons for the disaster: there are many important lessons to be learned from this story. I also appreciated the very human connections Sutton built, letting us feel like we really get to know many of the passengers and their actions on that tragic day: there are lessons to be had there as well.
Giving readers both the factual account of an event and its emotional resonance from multiple viewpoints is not easy to do. This book pulls it off; an excellent example of narrative nonfiction and one I expect I’ll be going back to as a mentor text. Highly recommended!
Facts First! Nonfiction Monday

Review: EAVESDROPPING ON ELEPHANTS

Zoo Scientists cover

Eavesdropping on Elephants cover

EAVESDROPPING ON ELEPHANTS
by Patricia Newman
Millbrook Press/August 1, 2018
Grades 4-8, 56 pages

Here’s what the publisher says:

Can understanding how forest elephants communicate help scientists find ways to protect this vulnerable species? Researcher Katy Pane and others involved with Cornell University’s Elephant Listening Project believe it can. Patricia Newman takes readers behind the scenes to see how scientists are making new discoveries about elephant communication and using what they learn to help these majestic animals.
Features: Author/Illustrator biography, Bibliography/further reading, Glossary, Index, Maps, Page Plus, Primary source quotations/images, and Reviewed

And what the critics say:

  • A Junior Library Guild Selection
  • “An inviting introduction to biologists at work.” —Booklist
  • “…this book does an excellent job of transporting readers and providing a clear, multifaceted picture of African forest elephants…“The more you listen to wildlife, the more your mind opens up to new ideas about why the world is a place worth saving.” VERDICT A great pick for middle school nonfiction collections.” —School Library Journal
  • “Fascinating for earnest conservationists.” —Kirkus Reviews

And here are my thoughts:
Patricia Newman does it again, with another engaging piece of narrative nonfiction! This is a highly engaging read about the less well-known African forest elephants and several of the scientists who study them. The science here–bioacoustics–is quite interesting and the human stories give it a personal touch. I always appreciate when we get to see how scientists really work, and it’s especially rewarding to get a peek at how they collaborate with one another on their separate-but-related research projects. The book also mentions some of the conservation aspects involved and even how kids can participate if they’re so inspired. An added bonus is that most of the scientists in the book happen to be women, which is so important for showing young girls that they can indeed have an important career in the sciences.
Finally, watch the trailer to see–and hear–some of the animals from the book!

Facts First! Nonfiction Monday

Review: ZOO SCIENTISTS TO THE RESCUE

Zoo Scientists cover

Zoo Scientists cover

ZOO SCIENTISTS TO THE RESCUE
by Patricia Newman, photographs by Annie Crawley
Millbrook Press/August 1, 2017
Grades 4-8, 64 pages

Here’s what the publisher says:

Zoos take care of animals and welcome visitors of all ages, but that’s not all zoos do. Author Patricia Newman and photographer Annie Crawley bring readers behind the scenes at three zoos to meet scientists working to save endangered animals.
Meredith Bastian’s experiences studying wild orangutans help educate both zoo visitors and the zoo workers who care for captive orangutans. Jeff Baughman breeds black-footed ferrets and reintroduces them into the wild. And Rachel Santymire examines poop from black rhinoceroses at the zoo and in their natural habitat to benefit all black rhinos. Find out how zoo scientists are helping us learn more about these remarkable, at-risk species before it’s too late!
Features: Author Biography, Bibliography, Full-Color Photographs, Further Reading, Glossary, Index, Maps, Primary Source Quotations, Websites

The professional reviewers liked it:

“Many kids are familiar with zoos, but there’s much more to these attractions than an opportunity to see animals up close. Newman shines a light on the important work zoo scientists do to aid conservation and contribute important research, both at zoo labs and in the wild. This engagingly written book focuses on three scientists and their work protecting and researching orangutans, black-footed ferrets, and black rhinoceroses, respectively. Each scientist describes his or her background, research in the wild, challenges to conservation efforts, and how zoo labs help them do their work. Photos of the scientists in the field, as well as their animal research subjects, enlivens the already fascinating material. Newman clearly describes the conditions that led to each species becoming endangered and encourages readers to think carefully about their own actions in light of threats to wildlife. Though the book appears slim, the content is fairly dense, so this will likely appeal more to middle-grade readers. Hand this to kids who can’t get enough of the Scientists in the Field series.” —Booklist

“In this incredibly informative book, readers learn about three zoo scientists who are working to save three species (orangutans, black-footed ferrets, and wild black rhinos) using a variety of methods, from conservation education to breeding programs. Newman also includes ideas on how students can contribute to conservation efforts, such as reducing palm oil usage. Various zoos and organizations that focus on conservation are also mentioned; for example, biobanks, where scientists freeze the sperm and eggs of various species in order to protect it from a catastrophic loss. The photographs show the animals as well as the scientists and effectively enhance the information presented. Several charts, including one comparing apes and monkeys, add a deeper level of understanding. Maps of the original and current habitats of the creatures are helpful in visualizing how the earth has changed over the years. A great book for research or for students interested in conservation. School Library Journal

And here are my thoughts:
I really enjoyed this book. As the Booklist review above says, the book is quite slim, so I was not expecting to learn as much as I did once I cracked the cover! On the one hand, I didn’t want to put the book down, because I was so engrossed in the stories and information. On the other, it was nicely broken up into the three separate stories following three separate scientists and their efforts to help three specific species, so it was easy to pick up where I’d left off when I was forced to walk away for a bit. The science is fascinating, the human stories are compelling, and the gorgeous photography brings it all to life right before your eyes. I’ve been ambivalent about zoos my whole life. I love animals, so I love being able to see them… but I also want them to live as happily and naturally as possible. This book helped me see a different side of zoos that I have heard about but never really had a chance to explore in much detail or depth, the conservation aspect. I admire the scientists profiled in this book and the work that they’re doing, and I am grateful to Patricia Newman and Annie Crawley for sharing their stories with us.
Finally, watch the trailer to see some of the people and animals from the book!

Review: POISON by Sarah Albee

POISON interior

POISON cover

POISON: DEADLY DEEDS, PERILOUS PROFESSIONS, AND MURDEROUS MEDICINES
by Sarah Albee
Penguin Random House/September 05, 2017
Middle Grade (8-12), 192 pages

Here’s what the publisher says:

Science geeks and armchair detectives will soak up this non-lethal, humorous account of the role poisons have played in human history. Perfect for STEM enthusiasts!
For centuries, people have been poisoning one another—changing personal lives and the course of empires alike.
From spurned spouses and rivals, to condemned prisoners like Socrates, to endangered emperors like Alexander the Great, to modern-day leaders like Joseph Stalin and Yasser Arafat, poison has played a starring role in the demise of countless individuals. And those are just the deliberate poisonings. Medical mishaps, greedy “snake oil” salesmen and food contaminants, poisonous Prohibition, and industrial toxins also impacted millions.
Part history, part chemistry, part whodunit, Poison: Deadly Deeds, Perilous Professions, and Murderous Medicines traces the role poisons have played in history from antiquity to the present and shines a ghoulish light on the deadly intersection of human nature . . . and Mother Nature.

The professional reviewers have weighed in favorably:

“[Albee’s] light tone makes this morbid, well-researched study a sinister indulgence.“—Booklist starred review

A compelling, entertaining, and informative introduction to a sinister aspect of human history.” Kirkus Reviews
“There’s plenty of material here to delight fans of [Georgia] Bragg’s popular How They Croaked.” —The Bulletin
Ideal for readers, including reluctant ones, who delight in the science and scare factor of poisons or grotesque medicine.” —School Library Journal

And here are my thoughts:
This book is deliciously dark fun! Sarah Albee’s POISON is the perfect mix of science, history, mystery, and entertainment, and readers of many different genres will be thoroughly engaged by this book. I know I was! From ancient times to today (and beyond!), Albee shows us how poisons–both natural and man-made–have affected humans lives and culture. The facts are shocking and fascinating, but broken down in a way that makes them accessible. There’s also a ton of humor to balance the heavy subject matter, with puns and sarcasm galore, especially in the titles and captions. And all of it is tied together with a compelling design featuring sidebars, pullouts, photos, and illustrations. There are also some serious nonfiction features, including a table of contents, author’s note, acknowledgements, notes, selected bibliography, research guide, index, and more. A highly recommended middle-grade nonfiction!
Here are some interior views to give you a better sense of what you can expect:
POISON interiorPOISON interior 2 POISON interior 3 POISON interior 4POISON interior 5POISON interior 6
And yes, if you’re wondering, this review is perfect for Labor Day! One of my favorite features of the book was the “Nice Work if You Can Survive It” sidebars, which told of various professions throughout the ages where people were actually poisoned by their jobs (did you know mad hatters were mad because of the chemicals used for felting?). Sobering, to say the least. And it made me even more grateful for regulations that protect workers from unscrupulous business owners!
Be sure to check out Sarah’s other great books, too!
Why'd They Wear That? cover BUGGED cover POOP HAPPENED cover

The Two Truths and a Lie: It's Alive! Blog Tour Wrap-Up

Two Truths and a Lie blog tour header

Two Truths and a Lie blog tour header
Prior to its release date on June 27th (TOMORROW!!), many people worked really hard to put together an amazing blog tour for the launch of my newest book (with Ammi-Joan Paquette), Two Truths and a Lie: It’s Alive! The tour included reviews, excerpts, interviews, giveaways, and more. Here’s a roundup of all of the great posts that were part of the official tour (links will go directly to the relevant post):

There were also a few that weren’t part of the official blog tour, but that put up awesome posts during the same time frame, so I wanted to highlight those as well:

I’m extremely grateful to each and every one of these bloggers for helping to get the word out about our new book in particular, of course, but also just for sharing their love of books and writing in general. I hope you’ll stop by and check out all of their wonderful blogs! ❤️
 

Review: Fred Korematsu Speaks Up

Yesterday, January 30th, was Fred Korematsu Day of Civil Liberties and the Constitution. I didn’t know much about Fred Korematsu’s story before reading this brand new book, Fred Korematsu Speaks Up, written by Laura Atkins and Stan Yogi, and illustrated by Yutaka Houlette. I’m so thankful, now, that I do.
Fred Korematsu Speaks Up cover

Heyday Books
Middle-grade
Hardcover
, 112 pages
I
SBN: 978-159714-368-4
Price: $18.00

The book shares the story of Fred, and second-generation Japanese American living on the West Coast during World War II, when the United States forced immigrants and citizens alike into internment camps. Fred resisted the order, and was jailed. The ACLU took up his case, which he eventually lost. He lost more than just the case. Many Japanese Americans turned on him, and he was officially considered a convicted felon. More than 40 years later, the ACLU decided to try his case again after finding new documents showing that the government had lied in his original case… and this time they won, setting an important precedent going forward. Fred knew what was happening was wrong and stood up against it. He was a changemaker.
Here’s an excerpt from the main text:

Fred challenged something
he thought was unfair.
He spoke up–
for himself
and for all Japanese Americans,
even when no one stood with him.
It was not easy.
But Fred fought
to make the United States–
his country–
a fairer place.
And he won.
We all won.

I love the lyrical, spare text of the book. I love the engaging layout and design featuring illustrations, full-color photos, definitions of terms, and historical timelines. There are also sidebars and pullout boxes that explain concepts in greater detail and add context. And I especially love the callout bubbles that ask readers direct questions, such as, “Have you ever been punished for something you didn’t do?” These make Fred’s story all the more relatable and help readers make personal connections from Fred’s story to the injustices they see all around them every day.
In addition to nonfiction text features such source notes, bibliography, photo and text credits, and an index, the book also includes a fantastic section about how readers can stand up for social justice themselves. I’m sure it will encourage readers to pursue activism and changemaking for themselves.
The timing for a book like this couldn’t, unfortunately, be more timely and important, as it comes just days after the executive order banning immigration from certain countries.
As Fred’s daughter Karen writes in the afterword:

Fred Korematsu’s story is the reminder of the constant danger that the government will overreach unless the public and the courts are vigilant.

I urge you to check this one out for the children in your life, for yourself, and for our country and ALL of its citizens.

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