From the Fighting for Justice series

This first book in the Fighting for Justice series is a must-read for all civics classrooms.

When Fred Korematsu, a young Japanese-American man, defied U.S. governmental orders by refusing to report to prison camps during World War II, he and his allies set in motion a landmark civil liberties case.

Like any American, Fred dreams of marriage and raising a family with his sweetheart, Ida, a daughter of Italian immigrants. But after the attack on Pearl Harbor, wartime hysteria spreads, and Japanese natives and Japanese-Americans on the West Coast are ordered to prison camps. Knowing this is unjust, Fred changes his name and calls himself "Spanish Hawaiian" but becomes dismayed knowing others are imprisoned in camps. His identity ultimately discovered, he is jailed following his arrest for his refusal to report to the camps and there meets Ernest Besig, a lawyer with the American Civil Liberties Union. Together, they begin a long and against-all-odds fight against injustice. Written in free verse, Fred’s story engages in powerful bursts and shows how speaking out brings complex consequences. Enhanced with pictures and archival materials, well-researched and approachable historical essays interspersed throughout Fred’s account offer context, while Houlette’s reverent illustrations give humanity to Fred’s plight. Co-authors Atkins and Yogi raise good questions (such as, “Have you ever been blamed for something just because of how you look?”) that will inspire a new generation of activists.

This first book in the Fighting for Justice series is a must-read for all civics classrooms. (resources for activism, note from Karen Korematsu, bibliography) (Blended nonfiction/historical fiction. 8-14)

Pub Date: Jan. 30, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-59714-368-4

Page Count: 112

Publisher: Heyday

Review Posted Online: Nov. 15, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 2016



An authentic and moving time capsule of middle school angst, trauma, and joy.

Through the author’s own childhood diary entries, a seventh grader details her inner life before and after 9/11.

Alyssa’s diary entries start in September 2000, in the first week of her seventh grade year. She’s 11 and dealing with typical preteen concerns—popularity and anxiety about grades—along with other things more particular to her own life. She’s shuffling between Queens and Manhattan to share time between her divorced parents and struggling with thick facial hair and classmates who make her feel like she’s “not a whole person” due to her mixed White and Puerto Rican heritage. Alyssa is endlessly earnest and awkward as she works up the courage to talk to her crush, Alejandro; gushes about her dreams of becoming a shoe designer; and tries to solve her burgeoning unibrow problem. The diaries also have a darker side, as a sense of impending doom builds as the entries approach 9/11, especially because Alyssa’s father works in finance in the World Trade Center. As a number of the diary entries are taken directly from the author’s originals, they effortlessly capture the loud, confusing feelings middle school brings out. The artwork, in its muted but effective periwinkle tones, lends a satisfying layer to the diary’s accessible and delightful format.

An authentic and moving time capsule of middle school angst, trauma, and joy. (author's note) (Graphic memoir. 8-13)

Pub Date: Aug. 17, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-250-77427-9

Page Count: 288

Publisher: Roaring Brook Press

Review Posted Online: June 15, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 2021


From the Race to the Truth series

A poignant and powerful look at identity, change, and resiliency.

An Indigenous perspective on the impact of European settlement.

Coombs (Aquinnah Wampanoag) uses two distinct voices to share information. The alternating chapters prefaced with “When Life Was Our Own” demonstrate the intergenerational sharing of knowledge about Wampanoag life based on oral traditions and research. Within these narratives, she teaches specific lessons: For example, readers learn how cedar was harvested with respect, “in a way that encouraged the growth of new saplings.” Later, they hear about how a sachem, or tribal leader, would resolve conflicts through a football game in order to avoid fighting. The voice of the remaining chapters “is inclusive of all tribal nations in southern New England,” covering history from the 1400s to the present. These chapters define and explore racism and provide facts about the devastating effects of the Europeans’ presence. Explorers’ 1524 arrival in present-day Rhode Island was followed by the Great Dying that wiped out entire Indigenous villages between 1616 and 1618. Europeans then proceeded to extract profits from natural resources, in contrast to Indigenous beliefs that “only the Creator who made the land could own it.” The epilogue describes the situation for Wampanoag people and other southern New England tribes in their territories today. Text boxes labeled “Let’s Think About This” pose critical thinking questions about the communities’ opposing viewpoints and engage readers. Black-and-white photos and artwork support the text. Together, the two intertwined narratives form a cohesive, engaging whole.

A poignant and powerful look at identity, change, and resiliency. (bibliography, resources, image credits) (Nonfiction. 9-14)

Pub Date: Sept. 12, 2023

ISBN: 9780593480434

Page Count: 272

Publisher: Crown

Review Posted Online: July 13, 2023

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2023

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