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The Children's Bookshelf: Yes We Will - August 22, 2022

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YES WE WILL: Asian Americans Who Shaped This Country is written by Kelly Yang and illustrated by 15 Asian and Asian American award- winning artists. The illustrations are exceptional. There is also a beginning discussion about the construction of the Transcontinental Railroad in 1863-1869 and the poor treatment of the 20,000 Chinese immigrants who risked their lives to build it.

The detailed stories of activists, scientists, artists and sports figures located in the back materials are full of accomplishments.

NASA Astronaut Franklin Chang-Diaz, a Costa Rican Chinese American has seven Space Shuttle Missions to his credit! Growing up he dreamed of being in the space program. He did get a four-year scholarship to a university but, it was for a Puerto Rican student not a Costa Rican Chinese American student. The university made the error. His high school teachers quickly came to his aid and got him a one-year scholarship. After that he worked in the physics department to pay for his tuition. His words of wisdom are: “The only way for the dream to come true is to really want it and chase after it.”

Other fascinating stories include that of Korean Canadian American Actress Sandra Ho, Taiwanese American basketball star Jeremy Lin, Chinese American fashion designer Vera Wang, Chinese American architect I. M. Pei and Taiwanese American scientist Peter Tsai.

YES WE WILL: Asian Americans Who Shaped This Country includes two spectacular pictures by Shreya Gupta toward the end of the book-----one picture of cellist Yo Yo Ma and the other of Black Filipina singer songwriter H.E.R. both making music. Readers ages 6-9 and up will find this book fascinating. (Dial Books for Young Readers/ an imprint of Penguin Random House) 2022.

The Children’s Bookshelf is a production of WCMU. Links to the podcast and the Activity Questions can be found at Children’s Bookshelf dot org.

 Activity Questions for Yes We Will: Asian Americans Who Shaped This Country.

Older Readers: Reread the Author’s Note in the back of the book again to refresh your memory about each Asian American’s contribution. Then answer the following questions: Who invented the N95 mask? Who became a United Nations Messenger of Peace? Who was the first Asian woman to win two Golden Globe Awards? Who was a librarian before becoming a well-known writer? Who designed the John F. Kennedy Presidential Library and Museum? Who was the first Asian American to win an MBA Championship? Of all the people mentioned in this book who do you most admire? Why?

The illustrations for this book are done by 15 different Asian American artists. Which illustration is your very favorite? Why? To answer this question, study the lines, colors, shapes, and details that are used. Try to draw your version of this picture. Go ahead. You can do it!

Be sure to re-read the material on Fred Toyosaburo Korematsu who was eventually awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom for his resistance to the Japanese internment order during World War Two. How does the double spread illustration of this activist speak to you?

Sue Ann Martin is professor emerita of Communication and Dramatic Arts and the founding and past Dean of the College of Communication and Fine Arts at Central Michigan University, Mt. Pleasant, Michigan. She first became interested in children’s literature when she wrote her PhD thesis on the oral characteristics of the Caldecott Award-winning children’s books. Her PhD is in Speech and Interpretation with a cognate in Early Childhood Education. She went on to review children’s books for the Detroit Free Press, write three popular resource books for teachers regarding children’s books and the creative process. She also reviewed newly-published books for Arts Almanac specials on WCMU Public Radio. Her 2002 children’s books special for WCMU won a Merit Award in Special Interest Programming from the Michigan Association of Broadcasters.