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.

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