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News & Reviews

The Wong Kim Ark Story



Little, Brown and Company

(pub.11.23.2021) 40 pages

Authors: Martha Brockenbrough

with Grace Lin

Illustrator: Julia Kuo

Characters: Wong Kim Ark


" When American-born Wong Kim Ark returns home to San Francisco after a visit to China, he’s stopped and told he cannot enter: he isn’t American. What happens next would forever change the national conversation on who is and isn’t American. After being imprisoned on a ship for months, Wong Kim Ark takes his case to the Supreme Court and argues any person born in America is an American citizen.

I am an American: The Wong Kim Ark Story is an important picture book that introduces young readers to the young man who challenged the Supreme Court for his right to be an American citizen and won, confirming birthright citizenship for all Americans."

Tantalizing taste:

" Long ago, a boy was born in an apartment

above a shop in San Francisco.

His name was Wong Kim Ark - and

he believed something that would change

this country.

I am an American.

...When Kim Ark was growing up, hard financial

times hit. Many people blamed the Chinese.

They said people of Chinese heritage could never

be American.

Kim Ark knew this was not true.

I am an American."

And something more: More About the Story at the back of the book explains that "Even after Wong Kim Ark won his Supreme Court case, he and other people of Chinese ancestry continued to experience unfair treatment.

He always had to carry a certificate of identity with him to prove he was American."

I appreciate that the Back Matter not only includes an explanation of The Fourteenth Amendment, but also a discussion of who argued against and for Wong Kim Ark, in particular "Thomas Riordan [who] defended the rights of people of Chinese ancestry in San Francisco and challenged other racist laws in court. He fought two other cases all the way to the Supreme Court."

How Isaac Stern United the World

to Save Carnegie Hall



Quill Tree Books

(Harper Collins)

(pub.7.5.2022) 40 pages

Author: Megan Hoyt

Illustrator: Katie Hickey

Character: Isaac Stern


"When Carnegie Hall first opened its doors in 1891, no one could have predicted its incredible success. With talented artists like Duke Ellington and Albert Einstein gracing its stage, the hall quickly became a place where all people—no matter their skin color, religion, or social status—could come together under one roof to be entertained.

People like Isaac Stern. The son of Jewish immigrants who fled war-torn Ukraine for America to escape the Holocaust, Isaac was a talented violinist whose dream of one day performing on Carnegie Hall's legendary stage came true, many times over. So when a real estate tycoon sets out to demolish Carnegie Hall, Isaac knew something had to be done to preserve decades of hopes, dreams, and inclusivity."

Tantalizing taste:

" But the next day, the people of New York City went back to their daily routines. Cars and buses cruised past the hall, pouring exhaust and dirt onto the sidewalk out front.

Isaac looked around. Didn't they know this was where the famous Tchaikovsky made his American debut? Where Albert Einstein mesmerized the crowd with his talk of tiny atoms in a vast universe? Where the lilting tones of Marian Anderson melted people's hearts?

Just like Isaac, young musicians from all over the world dreamed of one day performing at the prestigious Carnegie Hall.

It has to be saved, Isaac thought."

And something more: I'm always interested in other authors' journeys in finding primary sources for picture book biographies. Megan Hoyt in the Author's Note explains: "As I started to do research on Carnegie Hall, I went to the source: the hall itself! There are hundreds of letters, photos, and contracts tucked away in the Carnegie Hall archives, including an autographed photo of Tchaikovsky - composer of The Nutcracker and Swan Lake - and the trowel Louise Carnegie used back in 1890 to lay the first cornerstone of the building.…

Isaac Stern also left dozens of boxes of relevant background information to the US government. They are stored in the National Archives and have not yet been opened. Maybe one day we will even find out even more about Carnegie Hall, about Isaac Stern, and about the activism that saved this beautiful building from destruction." Yes! Another book for Megan to write.

How Kids, Teachers, and Butterfly Fans Helped

Fred and Norah Urquhart

Track the Great Monarch Migration



Alfred A. Knopf

(pub.5.31.2022) 40 pages

Author: Barb Rosenstock

Illustrator: Erika Meza

Characters: Fred and Norah Urquhart


" Young Fred Urquhart was fascinated by insects, especially his favorite, the monarch butterfly. He wondered where monarchs spent the winter. No one knew. After he became an entomologist (bug scientist), Fred and his wife, Norah, tagged hundreds of butterflies, hoping to solve the mystery of the monarchs. But they soon discovered that they needed help. They started a 'butterfly family,' a community of children, teachers, and nature enthusiasts from three countries––Canada, the United States, and Mexico––to answer the question: Where do the monarchs go?"

Tantalizing taste:

" Local people told of rugged forests filled with monarchs, which arrived late in fall and left in early springtime. Ken and Catalina [part of Fred and Norah's butterfly family] hiked the mountains west of Mexico City. On January 2, 1975, 10,000 feet up in the cool forest on Cerro Pelon, they found ...

Monarches, millions of them. Blanketing the bark of oyamel firs. Packed wing to wing on branches like orange leaves."

And something more: Barb Rosenstock, in the Author's Note writes: "In central Mexico, communities of indigenous and non–indigenous–identified people knew all about the monarchs in their forests. They celebrated the arrival of the butterflies around the end of the harvest and the Day of the Dead in early November. But they had a different question: Where did the monarchs come from? Finding the answers to the monarch migration took more than 4,000 amateur scientists, 300,000 tagged monarchs, 3,800 news articles in multiple languages, and forty years of scientific research. The Uruharts shared the sites where monarchs spend the winter (overwintering) in their Insect Migration Studies newsletter of 1975. Articles in scientific journals and National Geographic followed."

Barb Rosenstock has written a fascinating book -- a biography, a multi-country citizen scientist story, and a detective tale. I've had the good fortune of witnessing monarchs overwintering in California (not ones that are the focus of this book) at Monarch Grove Butterfly Sanctuary in Monterey County. Stunning, truly stunning -- beautiful just like Erika Meza's lovely illustrations.

Where to find Jeanne Walker Harvey books

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