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Fred Korematsu Speaks Up (book)

Creators: Laura Atkins, Stan Yogi

Book cover. Courtesy of Heyday
View in the Densho Encyclopedia

Book for middle school audiences on Fred Korematsu , who challenged the forced removal of Japanese Americans during World War II.

Authors Laura Atkins and Stan Yogi use a variety of elements to tell Korematsu's story and the broader context in which it takes place. The story begins with Korematsu's prewar life as an ordinary American teenager, but one who faced discrimination because of his ethnic background. It goes on to cover the rising anti-Japanese sentiment after the attack on Pearl Harbor, Korematsu's decision to resist the mass roundup of Japanese Americans, his subsequent arrest and incarceration, his Supreme Court trial , the later reopening of his case in the 1980s, and his late life activism and influence.

Each of the twelve chapters begins with a section of free verse that narrowly focuses on Korematsu and his family and is followed by a section of roughly equal length on the broader context of Korematsu's story that includes a combination of text, photographs, art, documents, cartoons, and a timeline. Each chapter also includes a full page illustration by Yutaka Houlette. The main body of the book is followed by a chapter on how young people today might fight for things they see as wrong and an essay by Korematsu's daughter Karen Korematsu along with acknowledgements, notes, a brief bibliography, credits, an index, and profiles of the author and illustrator. Fred Korematsu Speaks Up is the first volume of a Heyday Books' projected series titled Fighting for Justice .

Stan Yogi had previously written about the Korematsu case in his earlier Wherever There's a Fight: How Runaway Slaves, Suffragists, Immigrants, Strikers, and Poets Shaped Civil Liberties in California (co-authored with Elaine Elinson, Heyday Books, 2009) and considers him a personal hero. A non-profit development consultant and literary scholar, Yogi has also edited two literary anthologies and was the manager of development programs for the Northern California American Civil Liberties Union for fourteen years. Laura Atkins is an independent children's book writer and editor who worked in the children's book industry for seven years and later earned an M.A. in children's literature from the National Centre for Research in Children's Literature at Roehampton University, England. Based in Berkeley, California, she has worked on numerous award-winning children's books. Illustrator Yutaka Houlette is a designer, illustrator and front-end engineer based in Oakland, California. [1]

Released on January 30, 2017, in conjunction with Fred Korematsu Day in California, Fred Korematsu Speaks Up received strongly positive early reviews from mainstream publications.

Written in consultation with the Korematsu family and with Korematsu's biographer Lorraine K. Bannai, Fred Korematsu Speaks Up depicts the history accurately. Two small errors: the authors write the Tanforan was one of thirteen similar sites (page 43); there were actually fifteen such " assembly centers ". They also misspell the name of Topaz shooting victim Hatsuaki Wakasa as "Hatsuki" (53). [2]

Authored by Brian Niiya , Densho


  1. "Stan Yogi," Heyday Books website, ; Frances Kai-Hwa Wang, "New Book on Civil Rights Icon Fred Korematsu Challenges Youth to Speak Up for Justice," NBC News website, Jan. 18, 2017, ; "About Me," Laura Atkins website, ; Yutaka Houlette website, , all accessed on June 20, 2017.
  2. The author of this article was among those who reviewed the Fred Korematsu Speaks Up manuscript prior to publication.
Borrow/Download from Internet Archive

Find in the Digital Library of Japanese American Incarceration

Fred Korematsu Speaks Up

This item has been made freely available in the Digital Library of Japanese American Incarceration , a collaborative project with Internet Archive .

Might also like When Justice Failed: The Fred Korematsu Story by Steven A. Chin; Fred Korematsu: All American Hero by Anupam Chander and Madhavi Sunder; Stanley Hayami, Nisei Son by Joanne Oppenheim

Media Details
Author Laura Atkins, Stan Yogi
Illustrator Yutaka Houlette
Pages 103
Publication Date 2017
For More Information

For More Information

Publisher's website: .

Fighting for Justice website: .

Laura Atkins' website: .

Yutaka Houlette website: .

Wang, Frances Kai-Hwa. " New Book on Civil Rights Icon Fred Korematsu Challenges Youth to Speak Up for Justice. " NBC News website, Jan. 18, 2017.



Kirkus Reviews , Nov. 16, 2016. ["Enhanced with pictures and archival materials, well-researched and approachable historical essays interspersed throughout Fred's account offer context, while Houlette's reverent illustrations give humanity to Fred's plight."]

School Library Journal , Apr. 12, 2017. ["This inspirational work hooks readers through a variety of formats, including dramatic illustrations and direct questions ("Have you ever been an ally to someone who needed help?")."]

Suemori, Alan. Hawai'i Herald , Feb. 17, 2017, 8. ["The authors also nestle their tale within an eclectic mix of multicolored visual pop-ups, historical annotations and documentary photographs that gives the entire book the feeling of a free-floating jazz break that is alive, organic and spontaneous."]