Reach And Teach Author Honored

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Reach And Teach future author (Spring 2011 - Ivy, Homeless in San Francisco), Summer Brenner, is being honored for her book Richmond Tales: Lost Secrets of the Iron Triangle. What's most interesting about the award, is that it is a Historic Preservation Award, something that usually goes to buildings. But the city of Richmond knows that preservation is about much more than that. "When you think of preservation you think of buildings," said Sandi Genser-Maack of the Richmond Historic Preservation Advisory Committee, "but we don't have many buildings. We have people, we have publications, we have exhibits, which to me is exciting."

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Reach and Teach eNewsletter - 10/27/2010

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It Takes Courage, Examples and Tools to Stand Up

(click here to sign up for our eNewsletter)

The news has been full of tragedy lately, stories of children taking their own lives because they were bullied fill our newspapers and TV sets. Part of that tragedy is that in many cases other children and even some adults knew that a child was in serious danger, and did nothing about it. Why are there so many bystanders?

We went to a church service last Sunday where the pastor asked people in the pews to reflect on the last time they did something for someone else. "What inspired you to do what you did?" he asked. He didn't want to hear what people had done, instead wanting to have people in the congregation share what had inspired them to do something. The question that I added in my own reflection was "What allowed or empowered you to stand up and do whatever it was you did?" For this month's newsletter, I wanted to share some great resources that help parents, teachers, organization leaders and children to become upstanders instead of bystanders.

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The Shepherd's Granddaughter - A Very Different View of a Muslim Girl

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Our friends at Rethinking Schools put together a great article about the way children's and young adult literature portrays Muslim girls. The article, "Save the Muslim Girl" demonstrates some very specific ways in which girls living in Islamic societies are stereotyped. Reading that article, though, made me extra pleased that we had recently discovered a book that breaks some of those stereotypes, The Shepherd's Granddaughter.
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Putumayo, Reach And Teach, Putumayo, and other Partners in Peacemaking, including YOU... Support Haiti

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Like people across the planet, the team at Reach And Teach has been heart-broken watching the nightmare that hit the people of Haiti. In addition to contributions Reach And Teach immediately made to several organizations that are now working on the ground in Haiti, Reach And Teach and Putumayo Records is donating 100% of our proceeds from the sale of Caribbean Playground and French Caribbean to continued relief efforts. Putumayo will give their donations to the Red Cross and Reach And Teach will give our donations to the Rainbow World Fund.

Caribbean Playground features diverse music such as zouk from the French Caribbean, soca from Trinidad, reggae from Jamaica, bomba from Puerto Rico and more. International stars Taj Mahal, Desmond Dekker and the Wailers are featured alongside some of the Caribbean's most popular artists such as Kali, Atlantik and Luc Leandry, as well as other exciting new discoveries. Caribbean Playground includes full-color liner notes in English, Spanish and French with song descriptions and cultural information.

Putumayo takes listeners on a musical cruise of the French Caribbean with a selection of fun, upbeat zouk, compas, twoubadou, biguine and more. With French Caribbean, Putumayo revisits the French Creole islands of Haiti, Guadeloupe and Martinique which have been experiencing a roots revival in recent years. The French Caribbean is a place where music is imbedded in the landscape: whether it is compas or zouk blaring out of storefront speakers or the variety of sounds that enliven carnival celebrations and street festivals. Acoustic traditional styles like Haitian twoubadou and Martiniquean biguine have recently earned a place on trendy dance floors alongside flashier zouk and compas.

Click here to purchase Caribbean Playground - Earthquake Relief for Haiti

Click here to purchase French Caribbean - Earthquake Relief for Haiti


The Rainbow World Fund specifically reaches out through the GLBTQ community and its straight friends and allies to coordinate relief efforts and donations for a variety of peacemaking causes, including relief efforts in Haiti. They have had an ongoing involvement in Haiti which preceded the recent earthquake. Click here to learn more about Rainbow World Fund.

Our friends at the National Radio Project have a program about the situation in Haiti from their Making Contact series. Click here to check out that program where you can listen to portions or download the entire podcast.

Reach And Teach will also donate 100% of the purchase price of our "Take One World" poster. With words written by Robert McAfee Brown and art by Khalil Bendib, this poster provides a recipe for world peace that we could all learn to cook. 

Take one world:
A globeful of people, most of whom are victims;
A handful of people passionately committed to justice;
A God overseeing and supervising without usurping total control;
An exemplary human life, in which the globeful of people and the handful of people and the overseeing God are united,
so that the particular human life is uniquely transparent to the divine;
A healthy respect for the past and a healthy skepticism about institutions that have an unhealthy respect for the past;
Human hearts in which anger and love are two sides of the same coin;
A willingness to risk judgments that might be wrong;
And an ultimate optimism combined with a provisional pessimism.
Mix well, and see what happens!

TEACHERS: Teaching for Change has put together terrific resources for teaching about Haiti. Click here to check out their materials and suggestions.

As members of we are connected to a huge number of people and organizations that work on issues of peacemaking, social justice, and emergency relief locally, nationally and internationally. Our friends at just released this message, with links to ways all of our partners in peacemaking can help the people of Haiti right now and for the long term. We're pleased to share this information with you. 

A Letter from

Our hearts go out to the survivors of the devastating earthquake in Haiti last week. There's both immediate disaster recovery to do, along with longer term rebuilding work.

First, if you haven't already, please consider giving to an organization that is doing recovery work right now in Haiti. Our friends and allies at groups like Mercy Corps and Haiti Partners are working on addressing key issues such as clean water and shelter for children. Our allies at Network for Good put together a list of organizations on the ground doing direct relief work today. With one click, you can donate to one, several or all of them.

Second, we'd like to point you to the resources in our online community investing center for ways you can invest your money to help Haiti rebuild over time. As you know, community investment intitutions are in the business of making loans to low-income and underserved populations. Below we point you toward a number of institutions already doing work in Haiti, where they will be poised to make a huge impact on the rebuilding process.

If you've been thinking of "breaking up with your bank," because you're tired of the business-as-usual mega-banks, consider directing some of your dollars toward financial institutions you know will be using your money to help survivors in Haiti to rebuild their lives. (Click here to see how community investment banks helped survivors of Hurricane Katrina rebuild their lives here in the US.)

At our online community investing center, you can search for the investment institution that is right for you by sorting criteria like issue area (health care, education, refugees, etc.), organization type (loan fund, housing developer, venture capital fund, etc.), or geographic impact area (any US state, or any nation). Searching for "Haiti" provides the following list of organizations already doing work on the ground in that nation:

  1. ACCION International – Microfinance
  2. Calvert Social Investment – Loan fund
  3. Catholic Relief Services – Microfinance
  4. Developing World Markets – Bank
  5. Emergency Liquidity Facility – Venture Capital Fund
  6. FINCA International – Microfinance
  7. Fonkoze – Microfinance
  8. Freedom from Hunger – Microfinance
  9. Habitat for Humanity International – Housing developer
  10. Mennonite Economic Development Associates – Venture Capital Fund
  11. Oikocredit – Loan Fund
  12. SERRV International – Social Enterprise


Thanks for investing in communities, at home and around the world,

Alisa Gravitz,
Executive Director,
Green America

Perry v. Schwarzenegger - Marriage Equality and a Whole Lot More

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The team at Reach And Teach has decided to make marriage equality one of the key issues we focus on in 2010. With the launch of the Perry v Schwarzenegger case in the news, we wanted to share a bit about how the findings in this case, which will eventually go to the Supreme Court, may impact civil liberties for a long time to come. We get to our perspective through personal impact, plus through the lens of having created CIVIO, A Civil Rights Game, which chronicles the ups and downs of civil rights through freedoms articulated in the Bill of Rights, key issues of freedom and liberty, laws passed by local and national legislatures, U.S. Constitutional amendments, and historic Supreme Court decisions.

Kristin M. Perry v. Arnold Schwarzenegger is a U.S. District Court case challenging the constitutional validity of California Proposition 8. Proposition 8 (the California Marriage Protection Act) is an amendment to the California State Constitution that outlaws same-sex marriages performed after November 4, 2008. It was adopted as a ballot initiative in 2008. The plaintiffs in Perry seek to have the federal courts strike down Proposition 8 as contrary to the United States Constitution.

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Thank you! Together we've supported these organizations.

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As we reach the end of 2009 we're so grateful for all the people who have made Reach And Teach part of their lives and have helped transform the world through teachable moments.

Each year, Reach And Teach donates a portion of our revenues as well as products to local, national, and international organizations doing great work nearby and around the world. We'd like to introduce you to some of those organizations and say thank you for helping us help them. We encourage you to also check them out and consider supporting them directly as well! Beneath each organization name we've copied information from the organization's web site so that you'll know a bit about them.

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Healthy Foods from Healthy Soils

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One of the greatest joys we have here at Reach And Teach is discovering books and other products that truly deserve wider distribution than they might ever get without a little extra promotion. We discovered the amazing Griscom family gems through a grandmother (Peggy Law, founder of the National Radio Project) who told us we just had to carry her grandchildren's books.

Who would want to eat those apples anyway was published in 1994, before most of us realized the benefits of eating locally grown, organic produce. Apples you'd find in the supermarket all looked "perfect" compared to apples someone might grow in their backyard (or in an organic pesticide-free orchard) which could have a variety of shapes, colors, and perhaps a worm hole or two! Wouldn't you want to eat the perfect apple or would you prefer one that was a bit more "natural?"

Here's how this gem of a book was described back then:

When Laura Griscom was two years old, she became fascinated with the seemingly magical process of growing vegetables. Her questions led us on an interesting exploration. First, a bug problem in her own small garden encouraged her family to visit a commercial farm in search of advice. Then Laura's friendship with a farm worker's child raised questions about the relationship between farming practices and health. Her concern prompted grocery store conversations about what we do or do not support when we spend our money. Soon, Laura's interest evolved into a deep wonderment: Why do so many farmers and consumers make unhealthy choices?

Laura says that when people know the truth, things will change. Maybe she's right. Certainly, incomplete information about the safety of conventional produce leads us to believe unhealthy promotional tactics.  What would happen if the next generation began to find pleasure in the varied shapes and sizes of naturally grown produce?

Perhaps when we DO acknowledge the truth, we'll realize that the inconvenience of cooperating with nature is a small price to pay for healthier children and a safer planet. 

Pretty prescient, don't you think? We're thrilled to have Laura and Pam Griscom's book available in our web store for only $5. It is a wonderful way to introduce children (and adults) to the idea of eating locally grown organic produce.

The illustrations by T. Scot Halpin are wonderful and the story is powerful yet told in a way that is accessible to young and old alike. 

Today, lots of people have joined the "slow food" movement and are enjoying "100 mile meals," where all the items on the menu come from within 100 miles of where they are being consumed. People are also much more concerned about the use of pesticides on their food.

Reach And Teach is excited about this movement towards more sustainable and healthy agriculture and eating and we've got a variety of products that can help you join in. Check out all of our food related products, start planting some of your own food, and enjoy the flavors of our planet.

Eddie's Garden
Eddie's Garden
SKU: 978-1-84507-089-2
Price: $8.95

Joelito's Big Decision/La Gran Decision de Joelito
Joelito's Big Decision/La Gran Decision de Joelito
SKU: 9780986240096
Price: $10.00

Cool World Cooking
Cool World Cooking
SKU: 978-1-938063-12-1
Price: $15.95

Picture Cook: See. Make. Eat
Picture Cook: See. Make. Eat
SKU: 978-1-61243-234-2
Price: $18.95

The Vegetarian Myth
The Vegetarian Myth
SKU: 9781604860801
Price: $20.00

Cook Food: A Manualfesto for Easy, Healthy, Local Eating
Cook Food: A Manualfesto for Easy, Healthy, Local Eating
SKU: 9781604860733
Price: $10.00 $8.00

Forks Over Knives: The Cookbook
Forks Over Knives: The Cookbook
SKU: 9781615190614
Price: $18.95

Lickin' The Beaters: Low Fat Vegan Desserts
Lickin' The Beaters: Low Fat Vegan Desserts
SKU: 9781604860047
Price: $10.95

What's in the Garden
What's in the Garden
SKU: 9781584691907
Price: $8.95

Put Em Up
Put Em Up
SKU: 9781603425469
Price: $19.95

Bountiful Earth
Bountiful Earth
SKU: bountiful
Price: $19.95

 Vegetarian Suppers from Deborah Madison's Kitchen 0
Vegetarian Suppers from Deborah Madison's Kitchen 0
SKU: 978-0-7679-2472-6
Price: $19.99

The Family Kitchen Garden
The Family Kitchen Garden
SKU: 9781604690507
Price: $24.95

What Would You Do with An Extra $5,000 A Year?

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When confronted by a robber with a gun, who said "Your money or your life!" Jack Benny paused before responding. The robber, impatient, said "I said YOUR MONEY, or YOUR LIFE!" Benny responded "I'm thinking it over!" 

For those who don't know him, Jack Benny was a comedy legend with his "Schtick" being frugal/cheap. Starting in Vaudville, working his way through radio, movies, and television, Benny made millions laugh as he tried to squeeze the most juice out of a penny as he could. Today, Benny would probably also be the shining example of being green AND frugal.

Why replace when you can reuse? Why buy certain things in the first place if you don't really NEED them?  As Reach And Teach is once again honored to have a booth at the San Mateo County Fair, promoting sustainability, we want to share ideas with you that can help save you a lot of money and help save the planet.

What would you do with an extra $5,000 a year? We wandered around our shop a few weeks ago and looked at each of the produccts that we ourselves use in our store and at home and did a little math. How much does using each of these products potentially save us, and any family, each year. According to our research, the typical family spends the following on products and lifestyle choices each year:

  • Paper Towels $200
  • "Kleenex" Tissues $25
  • Bottled Water $250
  • Plastic Wrap and Single Use Plastic "Ziplock" Bags $300
  • Cleaning Supplies / Chemicals $500
  • Air Fresheners $200
  • Wasted Food $480
  • Older stereo left plugged in (standby mode) $67
  • Leaving air conditioner on while at work $180 to $200
  • Eating Out / Ordering In more than twice a week $3,000

As the old joke goes, a man went to his doctor and showed him that when he held his arm a certain way it caused him pain. "Doctor, it hurts whenever I do this. What should I do?" The doctor replied "Stop doing that!" There are some things on this list you can just stop doing, like leaving the air conditioner or heat on when you're not home. And you can also unplug appliances and electronics when you're not using them. The rest of the items on this list.... well, we've got some alternatives! 

AND... if you read all the way to the end of this post, you'll do Jack Benny proud by finding out how you can get into the San Mateo County Fair for FREE!!!! 

Paper Towels

If you had to guess what made up one third of all landfill waste what would you guess? Go on, take a few moments and think about that one. Believe it or not, the answer is..... paper towels! Wait what? But.... I only use a few of those a day, you might say. Nope. The average person uses 100 rolls of paper towels a year. When we were working on "greening" Reach And Teach, we looked at all of our daily habits at work and at home and one of the things we quickly realized was how often we went for the paper towels for quick cleanups. Why? They're convenient, relatively cheap, and we figured we could toss them in the compost bin. If only.  

Here's the lowdown on paper towels in the good old USA:

  • 13 Billion Pounds of Paper Towels Are Used Each Year
  • One third of All Landfill Trash is from paper towels
  • Average Person Uses 3,000 Paper Towels Each Year
  • 150 Rolls Per Year Per Family @ $200 Per Family, 100 Trees and 125lbs of Carbon Dioxide
  • Replace w/Skoy Cloths for just $15 a Year
Wait, what? There's an alternative to paper towels? Of course. Many public bathrooms have replaced paper towels with air dryers. Around the kitchen you can use a sponge, a rag, or.... Reach And Teach is pleased to offer, Skoy Cloths! We've secretly substituted our paper towels in our kitchen and in our soap refilling station area with Skoy Cloths and we like them so much we're offering them to our customers. Four cloths to a package, at just $7.20 each, can save you a lot of money and help the environment, including saving lots of trees.
Skoy Cloth is an innovative cloth that comes in an array of colors and designs and takes the place of your paper towels, sponges, rags, dishcloths and more. It is a European made product packaged in the U.S. and 100% biodegradable. Skoy Cloth is a chlorine-free, unbleached, and non-GMO product using water-based colors and inks. It has an absorption factor of 15x its own weight. It is long-lasting. It dries quickly, so it is not a breeding ground for bacteria. You can microwave your Skoy Cloth regularly to kill bacteria. It is also dishwasher and washer/dryer safe.
If you'd like to try Skoy Cloths for yourself, click here to visit our web store.


Sniffle, blow, throw? NOOOOOOOOOO! Check out this short video about our recommendation for replacing facial tissue... HankyBooks! 


Cleaning Solutions / Chemicals / Sprays

The average American household spends $42 a month on cleaning supplies, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Whether it is the bathroom, kitchen, windows, wherever... when you think about cleaning something don't you always think about what spray bottle or can you're going to use? That plus a sponge, rag, paper towels (NOOOOOOOOO), latex gloves to keep the chemicals off your hands.

Why all this?

To kill germs? Well, yes, chemicals kill germs but what if you could REMOVE germs and get everything wonderfully squeaky-clean with just water? Would you go for that? That's what we do in our shop and at our house using e-Cloth! 


We have SOOOOO much fun demonstrating e-Cloth to customers in the shop. We start by cleaning a bit of glass and then hand the water sprayer and cloth to the customer and watch as for the next few minutes they clean any glass they get near. Why pay for a cleaning crew when we can get our customers to do all the work! Seriously, though, e-Cloth works really well, gets things very very clean, AND removes germs.

Storing Food So It Lasts

One of our biggest challenges at home is trying to cook and bake lots of stuff for ourselves one or two days a week, and then storing it all so that we can have quick healthy meals the rest of the week. We found that we were using WAY too much plastic wrap and aluminum foil and were hoping to find some other way and then, one day, wandering through another shop, we discovered Bee's Wrap.

We LOVE it and are thrilled to offer various sizes and packages in our shop. Here's their story.


Stinky Stuff 

The typical American uses at least one can of room freshener a month... that's a LOT of spraying and ends up costing a lot of money. Of course no matter how clean you keep a place there are going to be odors you'd prefer not to be there.

Every time we sprayed something in our house, in the car, or at work, we knew we weren't doing the best thing in the world for the environment or our wallets, not to mention our health. Finally, one day we happened upon a solution that we tried first with our dog's kennel, then in one of our bathrooms, and became SOLD on that product for all odor and moisture problems. 

One of our favorite customer success stories was a father who told us he could not go into his son's room because of the smell. He was a bit incredulous when we told him how Moso Natural works (just put it in the sun for two hours and then toss it into the room) but he agreed to try it. A week later he was back to buy more. He said that he had opened his son's door and literally tossed the Moso Natural bag into a corner. Two days later he said he opened the door, walked in, breathed deeply and decided he was heading back to the store for more! A mother with an athlete daughter was next, getting the shoe sized bags for stinky sneakers. She was back soon too! These bags really work! And, after a month, you put them back in the sun for a couple of hours and they release all the trapped odors and are ready for another month of work. MAGIC!!!  

Moso Natural 


Eating Out, Carry Out, and Ordering In

The Motley Fool reported: According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, in 2014, the average American household spent $2,787 on restaurant meals and takeout, compared to $3,971 on groceries. But in 2015, the average amount spent on restaurants and takeout jumped $221 to $3,008. Grocery spending, by contrast, increased just $44 per household to $4,015. What this tells us is that dining at restaurants and ordering takeout aren't just luxuries anymore. Rather, they're becoming the norm. And our finances are hurting as a result. 

Wow. Here in Silicon Valley and in the two years since 2015 with the advent of food delivery services like GrubHub, Door Dash, and Uber Eats, we're guessing that the numbers have gone much higher.

Personally, we LOVE to cook, but don't have a lot of time. Also, we're frugal about what we buy. So, with both of those in mind, we're starting to use this cookbook. The $4.00 a day comes from the typical amount of money a family receiving food assistance gets per person per day. So, how about saving a whole bunch of money to do something special, like take a great family vacation, instead of eating mediocre take-out or delivery??????? 

San Mateo County Fair Saturday June 10 - Sunday June 18

Once again Reach And Teach is honored to have an exhibit at the San Mateo County Fair's Sustability area in the EXPO HALL and it is all about the topic of this post! We'll invite people to think about what they would do with an extra $5,000 a year and encourage them to consider trying some of the ideas listed here for reaching that goal.

And... remember Jack Benny, who believed in anything except paying full price (old joke)..... Check out how you can get into the fair for free. 

Saturday morning at 10am the fair starts with a parade! And.... if you get in before 11am your ticket is FREE (you will have to pay for tickets or a wristband for carnival rides but the rest of the fair is absolutely free if you get in by 11am). 

Monday is Kid's day (kids 12 and younger get in free) and Tuesday is Senior Day (62+ free and $2 admission for everyone else until 3pm).

On Tuesday and Thursday at 1pm Derrick Kikuchi will be doing origami lessons using recycled stuff. Come on by and learn a fold or two!  

SO... stop by our exhibit in the Expo Hall (in the north section), try your hand at some origami, and....... in honor of Jack Benny you can find out a way to get DISCOUNTS on the products we've talked about in this post. But, you have to go to our exhibit to figure that out.

See you at the fair!  




Fred Korematsu Speaks Up

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On Sunday March 19th at 12pm we are proud to present the authors of this book at First Presbyterian Church in Palo Alto (1140 Cowper Street - Palo Alto, CA 94301). 

Fred Korematsu challenged the mass incarceration of Japanese Americans when few others did. Fred Korematsu Speaks Up explores this civil rights hero's life and its relevance today. Join authors Laura Atkins and Stan Yogi to learn about Fred's lifelong fight for justice. They will read excerpts from the book, talk about the larger historical context, and lead a discussion about what people can do today to speak up for justice.

Fred Korematsu Speaks Up
Sunday March 19th at 12pm
First Presbyterian Church Palo Alto
1140 Cowper Street - Palo Alto, CA 94301
FREE - Light snacks and beverages provided, books available for sale and signing

The event is hosted by First Presbyterian Church Palo Alto and co-sponsored by JACL (Japanese American Citizen's League) San Mateo, Peninsula Peace and Justice Center, Multifaith Voices for Peace And Justice, and American Muslim Voice.

Reach And Teach reviews the book:

Fighting for Justice - Fred Korematsu Speaks Up
by Laura Atkins and Stan Yogi, Illustrations by Yutaka Houlette
Review by Craig Wiesner

This book starts with a simple message. Sometimes someone has to speak up for justice, and perhaps, after reading this painful, powerful, and inspiring story, should the moment come when it is needed, you may be that person.

Laura Atkins, Stan Yogi, and Yutaka Houlette have taken one of our nation's ugliest injustices, the internment of Japanese Americans during WWII, and turned it into a beautiful, life-changing lesson which will influence future generations to be on the lookout for discrimination and to take a stand. The story is compellingly told, bringing Fred Korematsu back to life as a real person, struggling to survive in a situation where he is despised simply because of his ancestry, and alienated from his own family and other Japanese internees because of the stand he took against the United States government.

Korematsu's name is best know because of the Supreme Court case that upheld Executive Order 9066, which authorized the internment of people of Japanese ancestry in camps after the United States declared war on Japan following the Japanese surprise attack on Pearl Harbor. Korematsu avoided the roundup and was arrested and prosecuted. The ACLU took the case to the Supreme Court which decided against Korematsu. Decades later his conviction was overturned, the United States apologized and offered reparations to those who were interned, and Korematsu was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom.

The paragraph above describes the facts, Fred Korematsu Speaks Up makes it the stuff of legends. The book's scrapbook-style design is approachable and accessible to so many different types of readers and learners, weaving prose that humanizes Korematsu as someone to whom we can all relate, with comic-book style illustrations for the reluctant reader, spot-on photographs for history buffs, interest-grabbing fact-boxes for lovers of detail, superb use of colors, fonts,and eye-catching design elements for this generation of device-users, and thought-provoking questions to ponder which make the reader part of the action instead of being an outside observer.

The book brings the story up to date with comparisons to the rounding up of Muslims after September 11th 2001 and Korematsu's crusade to ensure that nothing like what happened in WWII would ever happen again. And finally, the book offers the inspiration and tools necessary for all of us, young and old, to recognize injustice, stand up against it, and win.

The authors and illustrators have given a gift to the world with their telling of this story, one which instead of needing to be "required reading" will simply be devoured by young and old alike.

BUY THE BOOK - Click here to buy a copy. 

NOTE: The photo at the top of this story is of Derrick Kikuchi, co-founder of Reach And Teach. Derrick's father was interned during WWII. Derrick will have his father's internment camp high school yearbook at the event through which you can see what it was like to live in the camp in Idaho. Derrick's father doesn't appear in the yearbook because during the months the photographs were taken he was forced to work in strawberry fields many miles from the camp. Until the day he died, Derrick's father, Thomas Kikuchi, never ate a single strawberry.  

Fatal: Book Review and Interview

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Thanks to Reach And Teach alumni, consultant, friend, and all around nice guy Drew Durham for this great review of John Lescroat's newest book, Fatal. Drew knew that we were fans of mysteries here at Reach And Teach, especially ones with Bay Area connections. Read on to get Drew's take on this hot new title and then check out his interview with the author! We got an advanced review copy of the book from Simon and Schuster and LOVED it too!!!

AND, you can buy the book by clicking here.


Fatal by John Lescroart - book review


The fog comes
on little cat feet.

It sits looking
over harbor and city
on silent haunches
and then moves on.

now my review

A new stellar page turning yet philosophical legal detective thriller titled Fatal from expert mystery writer John Lescroart stays with you like lingering San Francisco Fog long after the clouds have dispersed. The intricate and complex mystery is set in familiar parts of San Francisco told with indelible characters and is fraught with unanswered ethical enigmas, personal problems and criminal crises.

As is well known by Lescoart readers, all of the descriptions of both San Fransisco scenery and enthralling characters in this New York Bestselling novel are all at once fantastic, immediately accessible, and intimately real.

The plot focuses on several local people caught in situations they struggle to control.

Kate Jameson is a wife caught up in an obsession, her lust for a married man named Peter Ash.

Kate's best friend and confidant, Beth, a San Francisco Police Department detective, has experienced and solved many infidelity cases thus Beth personally knows the devastation such lustful behavior creates for all parties involved.

Six months after Kate and Peter's first affair, Peter Ash ends up dead in the San Francisco Bay as the mystery unravels, the suffocating fog that is the full fledged drama of human emotions masterfully slowly and tantalizingly teasingly reveals all of the mysteries involved with Peter's death, including some really profound truths.

We are left to ask ourselves what do we let go of, what do we hold close? What matters most to us? What can we live without?

I have strong distain for anything about infidelity and sexual passion for other people while married and I still cant speak highly enough of this book whose focus is a married man who charms multiple women into affairs with him multiple times. The book is so well crafted in every way that it made me have readers withdrawal several times while reading and now after finishing it I am really having full fledged why John why did you end this book symptoms. My symptoms include like a serious serenity of feeling of the books mastery while at the same time being hurt by the all to sudden sadness of the book being a stand alone (hopefully just for now).

It could be a fatal mistake to not read Fatal by John Lescroart. Please comment below about this review especially people who have read it. PLEASE NO SPOILERS!

for more please check out John's awesome website:

below is my interview with John Lescroart.
His answers are listed after my questions.

Yours Drewly with Thriller master John Lescroart

Drew and John 

All the Best.

1. How would you describe yourself in a police suspect interview? What crime would you be most likely to commit, if any? Why or why not?

I would say that I'm a professional author and I make things up for a living. The crime I'm most likely to commit would be murder, because if you're going to break the law, might as well break the big one.

2. Given your remarkable life and your greatest influences, why do you write detective mysteries and legal thrillers?

I write crime thrillers because I love the internal and external conflicts that usually come into play. Also, I am a big fan of plot and puzzle, and good crime fiction has those qualities in spades.

3. In the story of your life thus far as is told on your website and interviews and in a number of your books fate and fortune play a crucial role. Can you describe the role of luck or lack there of in your most recent New York Times Best Selling book Fatal? What is the role of luck in your own life?

Luck, karma, fate, happenstance, serendipity -- call it what you will, the ineffable playing out of things beyond our control is one of the great themes in all of literature. We are simply helpless against the inexorable pull of the unknown future. In FATAL, just such a happenstance occurs near the end of Part One and infuses the rest of the book with a huge universal underpinning that I didn't plan originally, but certainly did recognize when it came into play. See, I answered that without making it a spoiler.

In my own life, luck has also played a large role. I got spinal meningitis when I was 41 years old, and after that became a different kind of author. Beyond that, my book THE 13TH JUROR came out in paperback just as the OJ Simpson trial was beginning, and (aside from its good writing and super plot), that coincidence propelled that book onto the NY Times Bestseller List.

4. I've overheard in some interviews and talks you have given that you started your writing career with an overwhelming emphasis on character development and scenery and personal descriptions. Today your plots are nearly as dynamic as your characters. How do you keep plot and description so excitingly balanced?

This is a good question. The basic answer is that I used to write to understand what led up to actions almost exclusively -- motive, impulse, prejudice, etc. But now I try not to write scenes where nothing happens. I want some physical action in almost every scene, and as these pile up, the book takes on a much more active tone, and the narrative drive increases dramatically.

5. What was your favorite part of your writing process for Fatal? What was your least favorite part of writing Fatal? Why? What were the most memorable both great and bad moments of writing Fatal?

My favorite moment was, truly, the opening scene. After struggling literally for months with another, completely different book, I started this new one -- FATAL -- and from the opening sentence I suddenly felt that I knew where I was going. It was magic! My least favorite part, although it turned out very well, was the ending, which I re-wrote three times in its entirety. Not fun. Why? Because it's hell not knowing where something needs to be when you've worked it in your brain a zillion times. And by the same token, the greatest moment was when I finally knew I'd nailed it.

6. Given your mysterious yet marvelous characters in your new book Fatal, What is the role of emotions and personalities in Fatal?

Everybody feels things, and any writer who wants to have readers care about his characters and doesn't acknowledge the wallop that emotions have in store for us, isn't doing his or her job. Even if you're have a small moment of action, the emotional reaction cannot be ignored.

7. Your relationship to the city of San Francisco is clearly intimate and immediate. What is the role of scenery and setting in Fatal? Why did you chose those parts of San Francisco for particular plot points in Fatal?

In all of my books, the physical setting is enormously important. And since I've mostly written book set in San Francisco, I've developed a deep connection with that most romantic and zany of cities. In FATAL, I knew I needed to be near water -- the Bay and the ocean. I needed fog for atmosphere. I needed both upscale and tawdry neighborhoods. And don't forget food. Luckily, San Francisco supplies all this and more.

8. Why did you name your newest book Fatal?

Well, my agent and editor and I used up all the other names in the universe. I handed this book in under the title of PANDORA'S BOX, and starting there, we went through at least a hundred different titles. Finally, my editor gave me a list of twenty more titles, each of them starting with "fatal," so I said "Why not get rid of the middle man and just use the key word. And that's what happened.

9. What does love have to do with plot development in Fatal? What about the role of lust?

Lust plays a much larger role that love in FATAL. Lust drives the plot arcs of several of the main characters, whereas love is a much more fragile and yet durable thing by the time the book concludes.

10. Your personal acknowledgements at the end of your new book Fatal give us a glimpse into your influences in writing this book. What is one thing you want readers to come away with after reading Fatal?

I try not to load my books up with too much didacticism. My aim is to entertain, not teach. But FATAL is finally a cautionary tale showing how even apparently minor transgressions and sins can have unexpected and disastrous results. If any reader on the verge of temptation finds him- or herself taking an extra minute to reflect on the possible consequences of what might happen, that would probably be to the good.

11. Whats next for you? Whats next for your writing career?

I've already finished my next book, which is a Dismas Hardy mystery featuring my "usual" gang of characters -- Dismas Hardy, Abe Glitsky, Wyatt Hunt, Wes Farrell, and all of their families. I'd like to see that book embraced by fans the way that FATAL has been.

12. How would you describe your new book FATAL?

FATAL is a stand-alone suspense thriller that explores the emotional landscape of the crime of passion, with surprising and powerful results.

13. What's next for your characters?

Let's just say that a type of sequel to FATAL is in the earliest planning stages -- so early, in fact, that they might not make it to another full book, but I'm thinking that they also might. There is a lot unexplored with a few of the main characters in FATAL, and it might be fun to see what they do next. But no promises!

14. What is the role of sarcasm and humor in your book Fatal?

When you're writing about very serious stuff, and that's what I was doing with FATAL, you'd better include some light and funny stuff. So whenever I got to feeling that the seriousness of the story was bogging things down, I threw in some leavening of irony and humor to keep my readers happy. That's the ball game -- keeping readers happily turning the pages.

15. What do you think the role of a legal thriller/detective mystery writer is in todays society in the United States?

crime/detective/legal thrillers play a large role in keeping the idea of justice and fair play in the forefront of society's consciousness. We aspire to the right and the good, and books of this kind are a constant and largely optimistic reminder.

16. How do you define the word worthy? How do you gauge a books "worthiness"?

A "worthy" book is one the plays by its own internal rules, and does so in a competent and artistic way.

17. Any other words for your readers or the readers of this blog post?

I hope that readers of this blog post find a lot to like in FATAL, and may choose to explore other books I have written. Enjoy!

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