In this new addition to the Dear America series, life in 1919 is peaceful and happy for Nellie Lee Love and her family in the little town of Bradford Corners, Tennessee. Not much happens; about the only excitement is the occasional letter from Nellie’s Uncle Pace, still a soldier in France. The arrival each month of the NAACP magazine, The Crisis, is the only communication southern blacks have with the larger black community, and Daddy Love faithfully picks it up at his barbershop, reading it cover to cover. Then one day, the town’s sheriff confiscates the shop’s copies of The Crisis, and warns the men there that anyone belonging to the NAACP is asking for trouble from the Ku Klux Klan. A wire comes announcing that Uncle Pace is coming home. But when he does, he’s been badly injured. As the sheriff tells it, he got drunk and fell asleep on the railroad tracks, where he was hit by a train. Everyone knows that Pace did not drink at all. He dies, and Daddy, realizing that this suspicious death has probably been the work of the Klan, decides to protect his family by moving them to Chicago. Here he hopes to set up a new undertaking business. Life in the city is far different for the Love girls from what they thought it would be. They must adapt to crowded apartment living, new neighbors, a tough new school, and making new friends, none of which is easy. But these discomforts are nothing to compare with the race riot that occurs that summer. The Loves get through it unscathed, but with the realization that they did not leave the problems of racism behind when they left Tennessee. It is this knowledge that gives Nellie and the rest of the Loves the impetus to become actively involved in the fight against prejudice and to begin the long march to full equality as Americans. It’s an inspiring story, and one that brings to life the great black migration of that era from the south to the cities of the north. This part of American history is too often glossed over in textbooks, but must be understood in the context of modern race relations. (Fiction. 11-14)

Pub Date: April 1, 2000

ISBN: 0-590-56733-0

Page Count: 224

Publisher: Scholastic

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1, 2000

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An engaging novel-in-poems that imagines one earnest, impassioned teenage girl’s experience of the Japanese-American...


Crystal-clear prose poems paint a heart-rending picture of 13-year-old Mina Masako Tagawa’s journey from Seattle to a Japanese-American internment camp during World War II.

This vividly wrought story of displacement, told from Mina’s first-person perspective, begins as it did for so many Japanese-Americans: with the bombs dropping on Pearl Harbor. The backlash of her Seattle community is instantaneous (“Jap, Jap, Jap, the word bounces / around the walls of the hall”), and Mina chronicles its effects on her family with a heavy heart. “I am an American, I scream / in my head, but my mouth is stuffed / with rocks; my body is a stone, like the statue / of a little Buddha Grandpa prays to.” When Roosevelt decrees that West Coast Japanese-Americans are to be imprisoned in inland camps, the Tagawas board up their house, leaving the cat, Grandpa’s roses and Mina’s best friend behind. Following the Tagawas from Washington’s Puyallup Assembly Center to Idaho’s Minidoka Relocation Center (near the titular town of Eden), the narrative continues in poems and letters. In them, injustices such as endless camp lines sit alongside even larger ones, such as the government’s asking interned young men, including Mina’s brother, to fight for America.

An engaging novel-in-poems that imagines one earnest, impassioned teenage girl’s experience of the Japanese-American internment. (historical note) (Verse/historical fiction. 11-14)

Pub Date: March 1, 2014

ISBN: 978-0-8075-1739-0

Page Count: 128

Publisher: Whitman

Review Posted Online: Jan. 29, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 2014

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This weave of perceptive, well-told tales wears its agenda with unusual grace.


Two young people of different generations get profound lessons in the tragic, enduring legacy of war.

Raised on the thrilling yarns of his great-grandpa Jacob and obsessed with both World War II and first-person–shooter video games, Trevor is eager to join the 93-year-old vet when he is invited to revisit the French town his unit had helped to liberate. In alternating chapters, the overseas trip retraces the parallel journeys of two young people—Trevor, 12, and Jacob, in 1944, just five years older—with similarly idealized visions of what war is like as they travel both then and now from Fort Benning to Omaha Beach and then through Normandy. Jacob’s wartime experiences are an absorbing whirl of hard fighting, sudden death, and courageous acts spurred by necessity…but the modern trip turns suspenseful too, as mysterious stalkers leave unsettling tokens and a series of hostile online posts that hint that Jacob doesn’t have just German blood on his hands. Korman acknowledges the widely held view of World War II as a just war but makes his own sympathies plain by repeatedly pointing to the unavoidable price of conflict: “Wars may have winning sides, but everybody loses.” Readers anticipating a heavy-handed moral will appreciate that Trevor arrives at a refreshingly realistic appreciation of video games’ pleasures and limitations. As his dad puts it: “War makes a better video game….But if you’re looking for a way to live, I’ll take peace every time.”

This weave of perceptive, well-told tales wears its agenda with unusual grace. (Fiction/historical fiction. 11-13)

Pub Date: July 21, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-338-29020-2

Page Count: 240

Publisher: Scholastic

Review Posted Online: April 8, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1, 2020

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