Synopses & Reviews
Sylvia never expected to be at the center of a landmark legal battle; all she wanted was to enroll in school.
Aki never expected to be relocated to a Japanese internment camp in the Arizona desert; all she wanted was to stay on her family farm and finish the school year.
The two girls certainly never expected to know each other, until their lives intersected in Southern California during a time when their country changed forever.
Here is the remarkable story based on true events of Sylvia Mendez and Aki Munemitsu, two ordinary girls living in extraordinary times. When Sylvia and her brothers are not allowed to register at the same school Aki attended and are instead sent to a “Mexican” school, the stage is set for Sylvia’s father to challenge in court the separation of races in California’s schools. Ultimately, Mendez vs. Westminster School District led to the desegregation of California schools and helped build the case that would end school segregation nationally.
Through extensive interviews with Sylvia and Aki—still good friends to this day—Winifred Conkling brings to life two stories of persistent courage in the face of tremendous odds.
From the Hardcover edition.
"Nothing is...predictable...April's coming-of-age...is poignant, realistic, and somber, and reflective of the strength April has found within." Horn Book, Starred
"Ray's loving attention to setting, character, and detail makes this debut special...based on real events and a real teacher." KIrkus Reviews, starred review
"Ray sensitively captures the atmospheric flavor...treat[s] her characters as real, complex people...A warm but not sentimental coming-of-age story." The Bulletin of the Center for Children's Books
"excellent portrayal...rises to the top....seamlessly incorporates historical facts into the narrative...engaging character...first-rate purchase for all libraries." School Library Journal, Starred review
"fascinating historical detail...will haunt readers, especially since there's no patched-on happy solution to the poverty, anger and sorrow." Booklist, ALA
Young Sylvia Mendez never expected to be at the center of a landmark legal battle. Young Aki Munemitsu never expected to be sent away from her home and her life as she knew it. The two girls definitely never expected to know each other, until their lives intersected on a Southern California farm in a way that changed the country forever. Who are Sylvia and Aki? And why did their family stories matter then and still matter today? This book reveals the remarkable, never-before-told story—based on true events—of Mendez vs. Westminster School District, the California court case that desegregated schools for Latino children and set the stage for Brown vs. Topeka Board of Education at the national level.
Based on real events, this is the story of April, a young girl who yearns to attend the new school opening up in her rural Virginia town.
Eleven-year-old April Sloane has never set foot in a school before, and now that President Hoover and his wife are building a one-room schoolhouse in the hollow of the Blue Ridge Mountains where April lives, she is eager to attend it. But these are the Depression years, and Mama, who has been grieving ever since the accidental death of her seven-year-old son, wants April to stay home and do the chores around their dilapidated farm. With her grandmother's intercession, April is grudgingly allowed to go. The kind teacher encourages her apt pupil, who finds a new world opening up to her. But at home, April cannot repair the relationship with her mother, and worse, her mother overhears the dark secret April confesses to her teacher regarding the true cause of her brother's death, for which April feels responsible.
About the Author
WINIFRED CONKLING studied journalism at Northwestern University and spent the next 25 years writing nonfiction for adult readers, including articles for Consumer Reports magazine and more than 30 nonfiction books. As part of her transition to writing for young people, she is working toward her Master of Fine Arts in Writing for Children and Young Adults from the Vermont College of Fine Arts. Sylvia & Aki is her first work for children.