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Sylvia & Aki

3.85 of 5 stars 3.85  ·  rating details  ·  415 ratings  ·  130 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 Cal
Hardcover, 160 pages
Published July 12th 2011 by Tricycle Press (first published January 1st 2011)
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Community Reviews

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This story chronicles the lives of two young girls & their families who faced racial segregation during World World II. First, there is Aki Munemitsu, a Japanese-American, and her family who owns an asparagus farm, but is sent to internment camps after the Japanese attack Pearl Harbor. Second, there is Sylvia Mendez, a Mexican-American, whose family takes over the farm from the Munemitsu family and the children are denied the ability to go to the local white school. Each chapter rotates betw ...more
Margo Tanenbaum
In her first work for young people, author Winifred Conkling brings to light an important but little known story in our nation’s civil rights history. Several years before Brown v. Board of Education, third-grader Sylvia Mendez wanted nothing extraordinary--just the right to attend her neighborhood school rather than a “Mexican” school near her family’s farm in Westminster. Her family challenged the policy in court, leading the way to a landmark school desegregation case that would pave the way ...more
Emily Mateos
Grade/interest level: Upper Elementary (4th-5th grade)
Reading level: No lexile level available but because of length, words used, and content I would say 4th grade
Genre: Information book, Multicultural

Main Characters: Sylvia and Aki
Setting: rural Westminster California on the family farm and at the school where Sylvia was turned away
POV: 3rd person narration

This book tells a story about a young Mexican American girl who is turned away from the closest school, Westminster, because of the color o
Discussion questions:

remember: From which foreign countries did Sylvia's parents come?(Ch.1, p.10)
From which over-seas country did Aki's parents come? (Ch.2, p.26)
What world event changed the lives of Sylvia and Aki? (Ch.2, p.20)

understand: How did WWII effect these two families?
(Ch. 1, p.4 Ch.2, p.19-24 Ch.13, p.126)

apply: Today the enemies of the United States are Iran and Pakistan and other countries in the Middle East. What should the American government do to protect us from Iranian peopl
Dorothy Schultz
TED 2360
Children's Lit.

"The blanket felt soft against Sylvia's head as she leaned back. She thought about Aki. How does she celebrate a holiday that's all about freedom when she's inside an internment camp?
What can the word freedom mean to someone trapped behind a barbed-wired fence?" (Insert from page 97).

2012 (Honored) Tomas Rivera Award and Jane Addams Children's Book Award "Sylvia & Aki" by Winifred Conkling is a wonderful book about friendships that can build when
L13F_Jana Wilkening
This 2012 America’s Award Commended title AND 2012 Tomas Rivera Award winning book tells the amazing true story of two third grade girls, Sylvia and Aki. The chapters alternate with each girl’s point of view as we follow their journey during the 1940s. Aki tells the story of her family’s forced relocation to a Japanese internment camp. Sylvia’s family moves into Aki’s family’s farm where she tells the story of her father’s fight to allow her and her brothers to enroll in the nearby school as opp ...more
Penny Peck
A charming book based on two true stories that are important to California history - perfect for 4th graders, relatively brief and easy to read chapter book fiction that would also make a great classroom readaloud. Sylvia and her brothers are denied admittance to the nearby school, and are told to enroll at the "Mexican" school across town (near the barrio). And Aki is at a Japanese American Relocation camp in Poston, AZ. Sylvia's family has leased their farm from Aki's family, and the girls' us ...more
Kylie Svoboda
Audience: 3rd-6th graders. Great for girls but boys would enjoy it too.
Appeal: The book is very good. One of the best books I have read this summer. The book would tie in perfectly when learning about World War II in social studies class. The book shows the racism and segregation that the Mexican Americans edured aswell as the Japanese Americans during the Japanese interment camps. This novel would give students a perspective on the Japanese and Mexican American's living the 1940's. This book w
The 2012 Tomas Rivera Book Award was given to Sylvia & Aki along with another winner. I really enjoyed this book which told the stories of two young girls of different backgrounds and their challenge with segregation. This book would be a great read for students 3rd grade & up & also could be for teacher seeking to teach students about rights. Over the course of this class, I think this was my favorite book. This book would be appealing to students of different backgrounds that could ...more
Maria Celis
Conkling, Winifred. Sylvia & Aki. Berkeley: Tricycle Press, 2011.

Characters: Sylvia Mendez, third grade Mexican-American daughter of Gonzalo and Felicitas Mendez; Aki Munemitsu, third grade Japanese-American and internment camp resident.
Setting: Westminster, CA; Santa Ana, CA; Poston internment camp, Arizona
Theme: juvenile perspective; California & WWII; family; racial segregation in education; Japanese internment
Genre: Historical Fiction; Children’s; YA; Cultural
Summary: Sylvia’s and Ak
Sylvia & Aki has a subtitle on the cover that reads: "Friendship know no barriers." The story, however, is not really about the friendship between the two girls. It is told in alternating narrations by Sylvia Mendez, a young Mexican-American girl whose family is leasing a farm in Southern California in the 1940's and who is refused admittance to the neighborhood school. She and her brothers are told they must go to the 'Mexican' school near the barrio instead.

The other narrator is young Aki
Audience: Upper Primary-Intermediate

Appeal: The author personalizes the discrimination of the time in a way that today’s readers will be able to relate to and they are able to understand the importance of the historic events. It is a little-known case that is a huge turning point in Latino history. It makes events seem read to the readers.

Award: Tomas Rivera Book Award
Zoua Yang
This novel was inspired by true events and the injustices that two girls faced in southern California. When Aki Munemitsu and her family were sent to an internment camp shortly after the bombing of Pearl Harbor, Sylvia Mendez and her family rented their home and took care of their asparagus farm. Sylvia's father tried to enroll her and her siblings to the nearest school in Westminster School District where Aki had previously attended, but they were told that Mexicans were not allowed and had to ...more
Erika Gentry
3.5 stars. Good read for students in grades 3-6. California 1941-1955. True story of two girls-chapters alternate as each girl tells her story. One story tells of Aki-a Japanese American whose family is forced to move from their California farm to Arizona to live in an internment camp. Meanwhile, Sylvia's family (Mexican American) move to Aki's home and care for their farm. They learn they can't send their children to the nearby "white-only" school (although Aki attended it?) and her family peti ...more
Laura Graves
This is another of those books that I wouldn’t have picked up on my own. I’d never even heard of this book until I had to read it for class. When I began reading it, I was excited about the subject. It didn’t quite live up to that initial excitement.

Japan has just bombed Pearl Harbor, and the U.S. is turning against its Japanese-American citizens. Aki and her family are shipped off to an internment camp. Sylvia’s father takes over their farm, and Sylvia is excited to start school at Westminster.
Miss Amanda
gr 4-6 134 pg

1941, 1944-5, Santa Ana, CA/Poston Relocation Center, AZ. Based on true events. Aki and Sylvia have a lot in common: They live in the same house, they both like dolls, and they both face injustices. Aki and her family were forced to leave their farm and relocate to the Poston Relocation Center because they are Japanese American. Aki's family leases their farm to Sylvia's family. Sylvia is not allowed to attend her neighborhood school and is forced to attend the "Mexican School". Syl
The Library Lady
The writing and dialogue are a bit stilted, but this is a nice little story about prejudice, about family and about friendship for younger readers.
Katharine Ott
"Sylvia Mendez imagined her first day of third grade at Westminster School." Winifred Conkling's short chapter book, "Sylvia & Aki," makes frequent use of a pattern of Sylvia, of Mexican descent, and Aki, of Japanese descent, imagining situations and subsequently being barred from participation. The book alternates chapters between the two girls as they feel the full force of injustice and inequality in 1940s California.

Sylvia's father passionately pursues the goal of his children attending
Shaeley Santiago
This book is written in chapters that alternate between the story of Sylvia Mendez and Aki Munemitsu in Southern California around the time of WWII. Aki's family gets sent to a Japanese internment camp in Poston, AZ just a few months after the bombing of Pearl Harbor. Sylvia's family leases their farm outside Westminster, CA while the Munemitsu family is imprisoned. Although Aki was allowed to attend the Westminster Elementary School as a Japanese-American, Sylvia and her two younger brothers ar ...more
Sylvia and Aki is a wonderful historical novel about school segregation and Japanese internment. It takes place over several years in the 1940s and is based on true events. Aki and her family live on their asparagus farm and enjoy life in America. Then the Japanese bomb Pearl Harbor and everything changes. People look at them suspiciously and they receive notice that they will have to leave their home and move to an internment camp. Her father is imprisoned in a different camp and it is years be ...more
This is a simple novel that describes the intersection of the lives of Sylvia Mendez and Aki Munemitsu. In real life, Sylvia's parents sued the Westminster School District (in the 1940's) for segregating Mexican children into impoverished schools and won (ten years before Ruby Bridges integrated the all white school in New Orleans). While Mendez's family was living in this school district, they were renting the asparagus family farm of Aki, whose family was sent to the Japanese internment camp i ...more
Mary Louise Sanchez
Winifred Conkling, a dubut author of children's stories, has given the young reader parallel stories with parallel chapters which have Japanese and Hispanic proberb headings to match the chapters. The stories are based on true incidents of two real girls who lived in southern California before the bombing of World War II. Soon after, Aki Munemitsu's family is sent to an internment camp in Poston, Arizona and Slyvia Mendez's family leases the Munemitsu farm and house. Although this is a good move ...more
Nicholas Humilier
Grade/interest level: 6th-8th
Lexile: 760L
Reading level: 4.5
Genre: Multi-Cultural Literature

Main Characters: Sylvia Mendez, Aki Munemitsu
Setting: Westminster, CA, Poston, AZ
POV: Third Person

This story captures two critical social issues occurring simultaneously during the early 1940s. Aki Munemitsu is the daughter of Japanese immigrants living on a farm in Westminster, CA. On December 7th, 1941 the Empire of Japan bombed Pearl Harbor and the world in which all Japanese-American immigrants lived,
Grade/interest level: 4-6
Reading level: 4.5
Genre: Historical Fiction
Main Characters: Sylvia Mendez and Aki Munemitsu
Setting: Arizona, and California
Author: Winifred Conkling
POV: Celia
This book has received the Jane Adams Book Award. It is about the intersection of the lives of two girls who are very different Sylvia Mendez and Aki Munemitsu. Sylvia and Aki is loosely based on the true story of Sylvia. Aki and her family are sent to a Japanese internment camp. After they move Sylvia and her fa
Janet Frost
This one came in as a new acquistion at the school library this week and I quickly grabbed it up to review. It is a rather simple telling of the historical case of Mendez vs Orange County School Board. It was considered a ground-breaking case against school segregation. The story read more like a first person non-fiction narrative. The two girls in the story are Aki, a Japanese-American girl who must leave her home and family farm for an internment camp following the bombing of Pearl Harbor, and ...more
Susan Menk
Tags: historical fiction, multicultural, Japanese internment camps, Mexican Americans, farms, schools, frienships, equal rights, World War II, California, dolls

Aki and her family must leave their home to go to an internment camp for Japanese Americans during World War II. Sylvia and her family are Mexican Americans that rent the farm while Aki's family is gone. Sylvia finds Aki's doll in the closet and wonders what the girl is like who left the doll behind. When Sylvia's family tries to enroll h
Sylvia & Aki by Winfred Conkling is a story of two real California girls during World War II. Based on many interviews and historical records, Conkling follows the lives of both girls. Sylvia Mendez and Aki Munemitsu are two girls who lives were both affected by World War II in two very different, but the same way. Aki Munemitsu, her parent’s and her older brother lived in Westminster, California on their asparagus farm, when the Japanese bombed Pearl Harbor. Aki’s family never imagined that ...more
Audience: I believe the audience best suited for this book would be fourth, fifth, and sixth grade girls.

Appeal: This book tells a serious story of racism and gives good historical information for the appropriate audience of fourth-sixth grade girls. The story talks about things that girls this age can relate to and in some cases maybe even have gone through. The relationship between the age of the readers and the age of the characters in the book can help the readers better understand what the
Grade Level: 4-6
Main Characters: Sylvia Mendez and Aki Munemitsu
Setting: California and Poston, Arizona
POV: second person

This book gives a fictionalized account of two real girls who grew up during World War II in California. Sylvia is Mexican-American and is forced to go the the second rate "Mexican" school instead of Westminster, the really good school by her house. Aki is Japanese-American and has to leave her farm and go to a Japanese internment camp in Poston, Arizona. Sylvia's fath
Sylvia and Aki are two girls with very different lives and very similar problems. The year is 1941 and the attack on Pearl Harbor has the United States in a state of panic. Sylvia is a young Mexican American girl living in California with her farming parents. Aki is a young Japanese American girl, also living in California on her family's farm. Japanese living in California were considered possible national security threats and were sent to live in internment camps. In order to survive and conti ...more
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WINIFRED CONKLING studied journalism at Northwestern University and spent the next 25 years writing non-fiction for adult readers, including for Consumer Reports magazine and more than 30 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
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