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In Memory: John Lewis

“Get in good trouble, necessary trouble, and help redeem the soul of America.”
— John Lewis (1940-2020) 

We at Mixed-Up Files join citizens around the world in mourning the loss of civil rights icon, Congressman John Lewis (D-GA), who died on July 17, 2020 at the age of 80. He leaves behind a legacy that has inspired — and will continue to inspire — Americans and people around the world.

If you would like to teach the children in your life more about this inspiring American and his role in the civil rights movement and his long career as a politician serving the people of Georgia, here are some ways to do that:

March by John Lewis

March by John Lewis, Andrew Aydin, and Nate Powell (Illustrator)
This powerful, three-book, graphic autobiography written by Lewis (and Andrew Aydin and Nate Powell) is Lewis’ first-hand account of his fight for civil and human rights and the American civil rights movement he was a part of.

 

 

 

 

 

John Lewis: Good Trouble | A Magnolia Pictures Film | Now In ...

John Lewis: Good Trouble directed by Dawn Porter (watch at home) 
This documentary weaves together interviews with John Lewis, his family, friends, and colleagues, and archival footage to paint a picture of Lewis’ life, his fight for social justice, and his long career as a U.S. representative.
(Rated PG.) 

 

 

 

Freedom Riders: John Lewis and Jim Zwerg on the Front Lines of the Civil Rights Movement by Ann Bausum  

Here, middle grade readers can learn about the childhoods of John Lewis and James Zwerg and the story of the Freedom Riders, civil rights activists who rode buses throughout the South in 1961 to test a Supreme Court decision that declared segregated facilities for interstate passengers illegal.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

John Lewis in the Lead: A Story of the Civil Rights Movement by Benny Andrews and Kathleen Benson

Preaching to the Chickens: The Story of Young John Lewis by Jabari Asim (author) and E. B. Lewis (illustrator)

 

Two biographies, one for middle-graders (John Lewis in the Lead) and a picture book for younger children (Preaching to the Chickens) teach kids more about Lewis and his life.

John Lewis: An Icon on the March (watch at home)
In 2014, journalist Gwen Ifill interviewed John Lewis at The Aspen Institute on a range of topics. The Institute explains, “On the 50th anniversary of the Civil Rights Act, witness a conversation with longtime congressman and civil rights icon John Lewis about his latest journey using graphic novels to move young people to embrace nonviolence. In the late 1950s, his own mentors, Rev. Jim Lawson and Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., used a remarkable comic book to teach young people the fundamental principles of nonviolent social resistance. Now, following in their footsteps, Congressman Lewis has embarked on a nationwide campaign to use his award-winning graphic memoir series March to inspire a new generation to take up the fight against injustice in America.”

 

 

Interview with Author Patti Kim + Giveaway

I was introduced to Patti Kim’s books when we were on a panel together at the ALA Summer conference in 2018 and immediately fell in love. From just reading the opening paragraphs of her debut middle-grade novel, I’M OK, I knew I’d love the book and I was right. Patti blends laugh out loud humor with such deep heart. So when I heard Patti had a new MG novel out, I wanted to know more about it.

Here’s more about Patti:

Patti Kim

Patti Kim

Born in Busan, South Korea, Patti Kim immigrated to the United States on Christmas Day, 1974. Convinced at the age of five that she was a writer, she scribbled gibberish all over the pages of her mother’s Korean-English dictionary and got in big trouble for it. But that didn’t stop her from writing. She is the author of A CAB CALLED RELIABLE, HERE I AM, I’M OK, an APALA Literary Honor Book, and IT’S GIRLS LIKE YOU, MICKEY. Patti lives in University Park, Maryland with her husband, two daughters, and a ferocious terrier.

And onto our interview:

Patti, welcome to From The Mixed Up Files. Thank you for being here. Tell us about your new middle-grade novel, IT’S GIRLS LIKE YOU, MICKEY.

IT’S GIRLS LIKE YOU, MICKEY is about Mickey McDonald first seen in my previous book, I’M OK as Ok Lee’s unforgettable friend. Bursting with personality, she urged me to take a deeper look into her life and character. This book begins with the first day of 7th grade, and the bold Mickey we know is not feeling so great. Ok has moved. Her dad has left. Back-to-school shopping didn’t happen. Her mom is in a mood. With such a precarious home life, Mickey is all nerves and not so sure about herself. And turning 13 is no stroll in the park. What she really wants is a best friend, and she finds one in the new girl, Sun Joo. The two girls truly hit it off, but other forces soon interject, leaving Mickey with first major friend breakup.

It's Girls Like You. Mickey by Patti KimThis is a companion book to your debut MG novel, I’M OK. Tell us about that book too and how the books are connected.

The two books are connected by Mickey and Ok’s friendship. In I’M OK, Mickey forces a friendship with Ok which ends up playing a pivotal part in helping Ok open up about the death of his father as well as helping his mother find him when he runs away. She becomes his first real friend.

What made you want to write this companion book following Mickey’s character instead of a sequel with Ok?

Mickey loves the spotlight. It truly felt like she wanted her story to be told. So many intriguing details about Mickey’s life kept emerging in Ok’s book like her many animals, her little brother, her irritable mother, her often absent truck-driving father, her past pageant life, and the sheer force of her positivity. Her need and love for attention called to me.

What were the biggest challenges to writing this second book in the same world?

The biggest challenge was keeping echoes of Ok in Mickey’s story without him taking center stage. I had him move out of the neighborhood which made perfect sense since his mother remarried. I kept them connected as pen pals through postcards and letters. This ended up working quite well since the writing process plays a significant part in Mickey developing an introspective and reflective voice. It’s challenging to strike that balance of keeping a previous protagonist in the picture in a meaningful way, while not diverting the story. I also wanted to see these kids do all right without each other. So much of growing up is being able to say goodbye.

I'm Ok by Patti KimWhat are some things that surprised you about writing IT’S GIRLS LIKE YOU, MICKEY, compared to writing I’M OK?

It was surprising how much I actually enjoyed the revision process. This is a big deal because I used to absolutely hate revising. After my first draft returned with my editor’s notes, I couldn’t wait to get back into that world and revise. The sensation felt like a blurry image gradually coming into focus. It was incredibly fun.

You write about some issues that haven’t been in MG novels for a while, like dealing with getting a period. Why do think it’s important to have characters going through these issues in MG novels?

Yes, the period scene. If these taboo topics aren’t covered in books, then where? Getting my period was shrouded in secrecy and shame, and that attitude informed the relationship I ended up having with my body. No body confidence whatsoever for me at that age. I really wanted Mickey to be Mickey about her period and to be an inspiration and encouragement, demonstrating a more positive narrative around getting your period. I couldn’t imagine writing a book about a girl, especially a girl like Mickey, turning 13 without making a big deal about it. Come on, we’re talking about Mickey.

I love the title, even if it does have me singing for the rest of the day. What gave you the idea of naming the book after an ‘80s song?

Since the original song is about a guy who breaks hearts, don’t you just love the idea of re-purposing the title to elevate a girl? And it’s so catchy. I couldn’t resist.

Agreed! What can we look forward to next from you?

I’ve been thinking a lot about Sun Joo Moon. I think she’s asking for stage time. Unlike Mickey, she’s quiet about it, but there’s a real depth to her that feels worth exploring.

Can’t wait to read that one!

Thank you, Patti, for being on From The Mixed Up Files today.

Check out IT’S GIRLS LIKE YOU, MICKEY on Bookshop.org, and enter the giveaway below for your chance to win an advanced reader copy (ARC).

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Diversity in MG Lit #17 July 2020 Historical Fiction and Non-fiction

Historical fiction was one of my favorite genres as a MG reader and it’s one of my favorite to write now. Here is a collection of new and recent historical books. In these turbulent times I’m finding comfort in seeing the many difficult things humanity has overcome in the past.
What the Eagle Sees: Indigenous Stories of Rebellion & Renewal by Eldon Yellowhorn & Kathy Lowinger, Annik Press, 2019 This is non-fiction at its finest. Each chapter could be extended into an entire book but the authors have kept it concise and vivid with clear explanations, photographs of artifacts, frequent sidebars and maps. The collected stories of indigenous resistance to colonization and oppression is clearly and fairly portrayed. Their past and ongoing efforts at renewal and repair are inspiring. This should be required reading for every history teacher and will find a welcome place in the hearts of many history-loving students. Science teachers will also appreciate the care taken in describing how archeologist work to give evidence of historic events. This is the best non-fiction book I’ve read in a very long time!
Superman Smashes the Klan by Gene Luen Yang art by Gurihiru Here’s a rarity, a graphic novel within the realm of historical fiction. Based on a radio show from 1946, it portrays Superman standing up for a Chinese American family who has moved out of Chinatown and into a Metropolis neighborhood. It has all the action and derring do you’d expect from a comic book but it also shows Superman coming to terms with his own status as an alien. Extensive back matter chronicles the history of the KKK, the role of comics in American culture and the treatment of Asian Americans during and after WWII. The Klan is often portrayed as operating only in the south and fueled solely by racial hatred. I appreciated the setting on the west coast where white supremecist organizations have a long history. I also appreciated it when the leader of the racist organization in the story is revealed to be more interested in milking his gullible membership for money than anything—an aspect of white supremicist’s groups that is often overlooked.
Never Caught, the story of Ona Judge, George & Martha Washington’s courageous slave who dared to run away by Erica Armstrong Dunbar & Kathleen Van Cleve, Aladdin, 2019.
This is the young readers edition of the story of a slave in the George & Martha Washington household who escaped successfully and lived out her days in freedom. This is a balanced story that deals with the Washingtons as slave owners clearly without dwelling over much on violence or degradation. For example, for part of her life Ona was Martha Washington’s favorite slave and so had a room adjoining the Washington’s bedroom. The text says only that it was common for female slaves to be assaulted by their owners, without elaborating. This careful approach gives the reader the option to stop reading and ask for more context or move past the information that might be too overwhelming. There are primary source documents, a timeline, and extensive source notes.
Tooting my own horn here, like the above Never Caught, my title Last of the Name, is a finalist for the 2020 New York Historical Society History Book Prize. If you are a fan of historical fiction set in the US, this is a great place to look for solid titles year after year.
Last of the Name is about Danny and Kathleen, young orphaned Irish immigrants during the American Civil War. It encompasses the events of the Civil War Draft Riots, the most violent race riots in US history and a topic seldom addressed in either fiction or non-fiction. It also touches on the beginnings of vaudeville and the power of traditional ethnic music and dance to give an immigrant community strength and help them find each other in new surroundings.
I confess that I never wanted to be a writer when I was growing up but a career as a circus flyer held great appeal. Orphan Eleven by Jennifer Choldenko is the book my 11 year old self would have loved. It follows the adventures of four orphans who escape the worryingly named Home for Friendless Children to find work and community in a traveling tent circus. It features a character who is an elective mute and takes place in 1939.
Saving Savanah by Tanya Bolden takes a look at the turbulent year immediately after the First World War through the eyes of a young woman from the African American upper class.The story touches on class conflict within the African American community, womens’ suffrage, and the ravages of Jim Crow laws and the influenza epidemic. Eye-opening reading for older MG readers.
Prairie Lotus by Linda Sue Park travels the same time and territory as the well-known Little House on the Prairie series by Laura Ingalls Wilder. This story follows Hanna Edmonds a Chinese American 15 year old who moves east from California with her widowed father to a small town in South Dakota. There she strives against prejudice to complete her schooling and open a dressmaking shop with her father. Period detail and a middle grade sensibility make this a perfect choice for 9-14 year old readers.