Tuesday, December 18, 2018

Sunday, December 16, 2018

Double whammy from the Book Mommy

The Book Mommy reviewed my two latest books within a week of each other. I learned of this via her two kind tweets:

Fairy Spell: "My fav telling of the Cottingley Fairies hoax (or was it?) to date. Astounding & marvelous, a story where the kids hold all the cards."


Thirty Minutes Over Oregon: "Absolutely fascinating, largely unknown WW2 story, which showcases the very best of humanity. A must for 7-10."


Excerpts from the reviews themselves:

Fairy Spell

"My eight year old, having mostly outgrown her belief in, if not her affection for, fairies, hung on every word. She has since re-read it on her own and even asked that I purchase a copy for her classroom. It's a book which tests your belief in magic on nearly every page. … what really went on down at the beck is both astounding and marvelous: astounding because the girls exhibited cleverness well beyond their years, and marvelous because they kept it a secret for so long. (Talk about empowering the child!)"

Thirty Minutes Over Oregon:

"Showcases the very best of our two countries. Indeed, it showcases the very best of humanity. I can scarcely read these pages without tearing up. … I can't help but hope that books like Thirty Minutes Over Oregon might help our children's generation think about what can be gained from letting our heart, not our politics, fly the plane."

Saturday, December 15, 2018

Museum, synagogue, schools, women's club

In one week, I spoke and/or signed at four diverse venues, three in the Washington DC area:

  • 12/8/18 two museums in the Smithsonian system, the National Museum of American History and the National Air and Space Museum
  • 12/9/18 Temple Emanuel, Kensington, MD
  • 12/11/18 two schools in Milwaukee as part of the Scholastic program My Very Own Library (MVOL)
  • 12/13/18 Washington-Tokyo Women's Club, Bethesda, MD

At the museums, I gave no talk; I simply sat and signed. Thirty Minutes Over Oregon: A Japanese Pilot's World War II Story tied in nicely with the focus of both sites.


This was my third time participating in MVOL; the first time was also Milwaukee (2/17), second was Newark (6/17). In 2/19, I'll be doing it again, in Kansas City, MO. 

In this program, Scholastic (specifically the Book Fair division) generously arranges a group of authors (in my experience, four at a time) to visit two schools in one day. These are schools that serve a low-income population. Scholastic not only covers all expenses (including a nice dinner) for the authors but also donates one copy of one of each visiting author's books and three other books to every student who hears him/her speak

The population of the two schools I visited is nearly 100% black. (I'd visited one of the schools on my previous trip to Milwaukee.) The kids asked thoughtful questions and exhibited delicious manners. At both schools, they dressed in red and black (reminiscent of Bob Kane's original Batman design). As usual, I wish we had more time together. 

The authors with whom I had the pleasure of MVOLing were Jo Watson Hackl (first time meeting), Angela Cervantes, and Jess Keating:

also pictured: Clifford; photo via Jo's Twitter feed

En route to one of the schools, my kind escort, Katy Wick, and I had to stop to take a photo because I found myself...



(It's a barber shop. See the scissors in the starburst/fireworks design?)

At Temple Emanuel, as I've done many times before, I emphasized the Jewish aspects of the stories behind Superman and Batman. (Jerry Siegel, Joe Shuster, Bill Finger, and Bob Kane were all Members of the Tribe.)

The talk for the WTWC was the first of its kind for me. The audience was over 100 club members, nearly evenly split between Japanese and American women (all of whom have lived in Japan), many of whom were or are military or diplomatic spouses.


This included Yoko Sugiyama, the wife of Shinsuke Sugiyama, the current Japanese Ambassador to the U.S. Of course she wasn't there for me, but I was honored just the same.

with Mrs. Sugiyama and Alex Johnston, 
the member who kindly invited me to speak

A highlight of the event came during the Q&A when we heard from a woman who lived through and remembers the Doolittle Raid of 1942 (which was part of the impetus for the events that take place in Thirty Minutes Over Oregon). She was, of course, a young girl at the time. She said the planes were flying so low over Tokyo that they almost grazed rooftops (similar to how Nobuo's plane flew low enough to buzz treetops). S
he and other kids waved to the planes until they noticed that those planes did not have the red rising sun symbol of Japan but rather a star...meaning they were Americans.

Thank you again to all my hosts this week. I have been enriched by each experience.

Friday, December 7, 2018

Top five nonfiction picture books of the year

Seventy-seven years ago today, the Japanese bombed Pearl Harbor in Hawaii, bringing America into World War II. Less a year later, the Japanese pilot Nobuo Fujita bombed Oregon twice in three weeks.

This week, educator Colby Sharp kindly included my book about that incident, Thirty Minutes Over Oregon, on his list of the year's top five nonfiction picture books. (He also did a lovely book talk on it a few months ago.)



Thank you again, Colby, and thank you to readers who have taken a chance on Nobuo's story. Congrats to the other books being recognized!

Sunday, December 2, 2018

Best wrong-but-really-right number ever

In 2013, I was prepping round 2 of my "girl in the video" series for which I tracked down and interviewed 50 or so iconic 1980s MTV ingenues from "Sister Christian" to all five women in the "Addicted to Love" band. 

I was looking for Cindy Horn, the woman in the video for Ray Parker Jr.'s "Ghostbusters."


On a public records site I have often used for research, I found what was listed as her number and called. Her husband answered. Mildly annoyed yet still polite, he said I was actually using his private home line. I apologized and told him where I got it. He said he hates when that happens. I understand.

Her husband is Alan Horn, Chairman of Walt Disney Studios.

But he took my info and gave Cindy the message.
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