By ELEANOR HEDGES DUROY, age 11

IMAGE: Winifred Conkling
IMAGE: Winifred Conkling

Sylvia & Aki, by Winifred Conkling, takes place in Westminster, Calif., and Poston War Relocation Center, Ariz., during WWII (1941-1945). It is based on the lives of two real children, Aki Munemitsu and Sylvia Mendez.

Aki, an American citizen of Japanese descent, was attending Westminster school in California when the Japanese bombed Pearl Harbor and all families of Japanese descent were forced to relocate to internment camps. Aki’s family had to leave their home and belongings. Poston was very crowded, the dormitories had little privacy and people didn’t like the food. Aki and her family lived there for four years, even though her family never committed crimes and were loyal to the United States.

Sylvia was an American citizen of Mexican descent. Sylvia’s family moved into Aki’s house during WWII and worked Aki’s parents’ farm. Sylvia and her siblings wanted to attend Westminster School, but the school board would not allow them to because they were Hispanic. Sylvia’s father fought for their right to a good education. He filed a lawsuit against the school board. Sylvia’s father won the case and Mendez v. Westminster paved the way for Brown v. Board of Education which ended school segregation for all American children.

I highly recommend Sylvia & Aki. IndyKids readers will like this book because it talks about American history and racism in the United States. It is important to know what happened so that we can continue to fight against racism and anti-immigrant feelings in the United States today.