UPDATED: ‘Korematsu Speaks Up’ Aimed at Young Readers

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BERKELEY — Heyday Books will release “Fred Korematsu Speaks Up” at the end of January to coincide with Korematsu’s birthday (Jan. 30) and the 75th anniversary of the signing of Executive Order 9066 (Feb. 19).

Written by Laura Atkins and Stan Yogi and illustrated by Yutaka Houlette, this is the first book in the Fighting for Justice series.

Korematsu liked listening to music on the radio, playing tennis, and hanging around with his friends — just like lots of other Americans. But everything changed when the United States went to war with Japan in 1941 and the government forced all people of Japanese ancestry to leave their homes on the West Coast and move to distant prison camps.

This included Korematsu, whose parents had immigrated to the U.S. from Japan many years before. But he refused to go. He knew that what the government was doing was unfair. And when he got put in jail for resisting, he knew he couldn’t give up.

Inspired by the award-winning book for adults “Wherever There’s a Fight,” the Fighting for Justice series introduces young readers to real-life heroes and heroines of social progress. The story of Korematsu’s fight against discrimination explores the life of one courageous person who made the U.S. a fairer place for all Americans, and it encourages all of us to speak up for justice.

Atkins is an author, teacher, and independent children’s book editor with over 20 years of editorial experience. She worked at Children’s Book Press, Orchard Books, and Lee & Low Books, helping to produce winners of the Coretta Scott King Award and American Library Association Notable Book selections, among others.

She taught creative writing at the National Centre for Research in Children’s Literature (NCRCL) in London, where she also received her M.A. in children’s literature, and she completed her M.F.A. in writing for children and young adults from Vermont College of Fine Arts in 2016.

In addition to co-writing “Fred Korematsu Speaks Up,” Atkins is the author of the lighthearted picture book “Sled Dog Dachshund” (Minted Prose Press). Passionate about diversity and equity in children’s books, she is based in Berkeley, where she lives with her daughter.

Yogi is the co-author, with Elaine Elinson, of “Wherever There’s a Fight: How Runaway Slaves, Suffragists, Immigrants, Strikers, and Poets Shaped Civil Liberties in California.” He managed development programs for the ACLU of Northern California for 14 years and is the co-editor of two books, “Highway 99: A Literary Journey Through California’s Great Central Valley” and “Asian American Literature: An Annotated Bibliography.

His work has appeared in The San Francisco Chronicle, MELUS, Los Angeles Daily Journal, and several anthologies. He is married to nonprofit administrator David Carroll and lives in Los Angeles.

Launch parties are planned for the following locations:

Saturday, Feb. 4, at 2 p.m. at J-Sei, 1285 66th St., Emeryville

Monday, Feb. 6, at 7 p.m. at The Green Arcade, 1680 Market St, San Francisco

Wednesday, Feb. 8, at 7:30 p.m. at Pegasus Books, 5560 College Ave., Oakland

Saturday, Feb. 11, at 2 p.m. at Asian Americans Advancing Justice, 1145 Wilshire Blvd., Los Angeles

For more information, visit http://heydaybooks.com.

Advance praise:

“Atkins and Yogi raise good questions…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.” — Kirkus Reviews (starred review)

“Now’s the perfect moment for a civil rights refresher, which makes ‘Fred Korematsu Speaks Up’…right on time. Korematsu, an Oakland-born Japanese American who resisted internment during WWII, is given powerful treatment by authors Laura Atkins…and Stan Yogi and compelling images by Oakland illustrator Yutaka Houlette. Read it with a young revolutionary by your side.” — Linda Lenhoff, San Francisco Magazine

“Brilliant.” — Elizabeth Partridge, award-winning author of “Marching for Freedom: Walk Together, Children” and “Don’t You Grow Weary”

“A powerful, nuanced book about a man who has had a profound impact on American civil liberties.” — Patricia Wakida, co-editor of “Only What We Could Carry: The Japanese American Internment Experience”

“‘Fred Korematsu Speaks Up’ has it all: a compelling storyline with an appealing hero, thorough and accurate background information that places his story in different contexts both historical and contemporary, and an inviting design that uses many visuals even those familiar with the story will not have seen. Easily one of the best nonfiction children’s books on any aspect of Asian American history.” — Brian Niiya, content editor for Densho

“This is a book for all the young people who deserve to feel the joy and power of making a difference in this world — and for the educators, parents, and grandparents who love them. How wonderful to see that no one is alone!” — Jane Kurtz, co-founder of Ethiopia Reads

“The authors and illustrator have given a gift to the world with their telling of this story, one which instead of needing to be ‘required reading’ will simply be devoured by young and old alike.” — Craig Wiesner, co-founder of Reach and Teach

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  1. Most people don’t realize that Japanese men were taken two months before 9066, the first taken before the smoke cleared over Pearl Harbor and the last released three months after WWII ended. They were held in men-only camps without families. It’s all in “First Taken, Last Released: Overlooked WWII Internment.”

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