Informative, moving nonfiction that allows the Topaz detainees to share their story.

DESERT DIARY

JAPANESE AMERICAN KIDS BEHIND BARBED WIRE

A look into a third grade class’s daily diary while imprisoned.

In December 1941, one year after the bombing of Pearl Harbor, those of Japanese ancestry, or Nikkei, living on the West Coast were torn from their homes and sent to prison camps. By 1943, 8-year-old Mae Yanagi and other Japanese American children were starting school in Topaz Internment Camp in Utah. Mae’s third grade class started an illustrated diary of their daily life at camp. Diary entries included details about positive things, like schoolwork, sports, pets, and holidays. Often entries also mentioned injuries, illnesses, and goodbyes experienced by the students and the other captives. Quotes from prisoners of all ages are interlaced throughout, allowing their voices due prominence. By highlighting the children’s classroom diary, Tunnell gives today’s young readers a primary source from the perspectives of their peers. Images of diary pages fill in the gaps of the archival photos that too often hid the injustice. One entry notes that several blocks lost their running water; another records the loss of a roof to a storm. The selections throughout carefully balance harsh experiences with incredible resilience. An author’s note shares the heartwarming story of how he was able to meet and interview many of the children who wrote the diary; an editor’s note discusses the decision not to use the terms internment camps or internees.

Informative, moving nonfiction that allows the Topaz detainees to share their story. (glossary, source notes, selected bibliography, index) (Nonfiction. 9-12)

Pub Date: Oct. 6, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-58089-789-1

Page Count: 144

Publisher: Charlesbridge

Review Posted Online: July 14, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2020

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Like oil itself, this is a book that needs to be handled with special care.

OIL

In 1977, the oil carrier Exxon Valdez spilled 11 million gallons of oil into a formerly pristine Alaskan ocean inlet, killing millions of birds, animals, and fish. Despite a cleanup, crude oil is still there.

The Winters foretold the destructive powers of the atomic bomb allusively in The Secret Project (2017), leaving the actuality to the backmatter. They make no such accommodations to young audiences in this disturbing book. From the dark front cover, on which oily blobs conceal a seabird, to the rescuer’s sad face on the back, the mother-son team emphasizes the disaster. A relatively easy-to-read and poetically heightened text introduces the situation. Oil is pumped from the Earth “all day long, all night long, / day after day, year after year” in “what had been unspoiled land, home to Native people // and thousands of caribou.” The scale of extraction is huge: There’s “a giant pipeline” leading to “enormous ships.” Then, crash. Rivers of oil gush out over three full-bleed wordless pages. Subsequent scenes show rocks, seabirds, and sea otters covered with oil. Finally, 30 years later, animals have returned to a cheerful scene. “But if you lift a rock… // oil / seeps / up.” For an adult reader, this is heartbreaking. How much more difficult might this be for an animal-loving child?

Like oil itself, this is a book that needs to be handled with special care. (author’s note, further reading) (Informational picture book. 9-12)

Pub Date: March 31, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-5344-3077-8

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Beach Lane/Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: Nov. 24, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 15, 2019

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The car gets shortchanged, but comparing the divergent career paths of its (putative) two riders may give readers food for...

TWO MEN AND A CAR

FRANKLIN ROOSEVELT, AL CAPONE, AND A CADILLAC V-8

A custom-built, bulletproof limo links two historical figures who were pre-eminent in more or less different spheres.

Garland admits that a claim that FDR was driven to Congress to deliver his “Day of Infamy” speech in a car that once belonged to Capone rests on shaky evidence. He nonetheless uses the anecdote as a launchpad for twin portraits of contemporaries who occupy unique niches in this country’s history but had little in common. Both were smart, ambitious New Yorkers and were young when their fathers died, but they definitely “headed in opposite directions.” As he fills his biographical sketches with standard-issue facts and has disappointingly little to say about the car itself (which was commissioned by Capone in 1928 and still survives), this outing seems largely intended to be a vehicle for the dark, heavy illustrations. These are done in muted hues with densely scratched surfaces and angled so that the two men, the period backgrounds against which they are posed, and the car have monumental looks. It’s a reach to bill this, as the author does, a “story about America,” but it does at least offer a study in contrasts featuring two of America’s most renowned citizens. Most of the human figures are white in the art, but some group scenes include a few with darker skin.

The car gets shortchanged, but comparing the divergent career paths of its (putative) two riders may give readers food for thought. (timeline, bibliography) (Picture book/biography. 10-12)

Pub Date: March 12, 2019

ISBN: 978-0-88448-620-6

Page Count: 64

Publisher: Tilbury House

Review Posted Online: Jan. 15, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 2019

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