TeachingBooks Virtual Book Tour

The TeachingBooks Virtual Book Tour is your opportunity to learn from and build personal connections with extraordinary book creators and their brand-new titles. Included in all Virtual Book Tour posts are original interviews with authors and illustrators, lesson plans, an activity designed for young people, and much more!

Welcome Candy J. Cooper

Candy J. Cooper on Poisoned Water: How the Citizens of Flint, Michigan, Fought for Their Lives and Warned the Nation

In this post, we feature journalist and author Candy J. Cooper. You can hear her speak about the inspiration for her debut title for young people, Poisoned Water: How the Citizens of Flint, Michigan, Fought for Their Lives and Warned the Nation, and try her fun “invitation to imagine” activity. You’ll also find other resources to explore. Thanks for joining us, and let us know what you think in the comments below!


Author Candy J. Cooper and the cover of her book Poisoned Water

Poisoned Water: How the Citizens of Flint, Michigan, Fought for Their Lives and Warned the Nation

  • Written by Candy J. Cooper, with Marc Aronson
  • Published by Bloomsbury Children’s Books
  • Release date: May 19, 2020

In 2014, Flint, Michigan, was a cash-strapped city. To save money, government officials switched Flint’s water supply from Lake Huron to the Flint River. Within months, children stopped growing, people were hospitalized with mysterious illnesses, and some died. Murky, foul-smelling liquid poured from the city’s faucets, but officials refused to listen to citizens’ protests. Assisted by writer and editor Marc Aronson, award-winning journalist Candy J. Cooper reveals the true story of Flint. Readers will learn not just how the crisis unfolded, but also the history of racism and segregation that led up to it and fueled it, and how the people of Flint fought—and are still fighting—for clean water and healthy lives.

From Poisoned Water: How the Citizens of Flint, Michigan, Fought for Their Lives and Warned the Nation:

Every morning during his last two years of high school . . . soft-spoken Keishaun Wade arrived by bus at the front doors of Southwestern Classical Academy in Flint, Michigan, the only high school left in the shrinking city.

Read a longer excerpt from Poisoned Water, written by Candy J. Cooper.

Explore Poisoned Water: How the Citizens of Flint, Michigan, Fought for Their Lives and Warned the Nation

Listen to Candy J. Cooper talking with TeachingBooks about creating Poisoned Water: How the Citizens of Flint, Michigan, Fought for Their Lives and Warned the Nation. You can click the player below or experience the recording on TeachingBooks, where you can read along as you listen, and also translate the text to another language.


Invitation to Imagine

TeachingBooks asks each author or illustrator on our Virtual Book Tour to share a writing prompt, a drawing exercise, or just an interesting question to spark curiosity and creativity. Enjoy the following activity contributed by Candy J. Cooper.

Imagination Activity with Candy J. Cooper

Artists from around the country have expressed outrage about the Flint water crisis. In Poisoned Water, on page 68, we include a photo of children’s self-portraits with their own thought bubbles. We include, on page 82, a photo of graffiti drawn on a Flint overpass. And around the country, editorial cartoonists—artists whose drawings contain a social or political message—made cartoons about Flint. (You can find many online with a search of Flint editorial cartoons.)

If you had to draw a portrait of a child in Flint with a thought bubble, or graffiti on a public wall with a point of view, or a cartoon that would make a statement about the Flint water crisis, what would you draw and what would your message be?

Can you try your hand at one of those drawings? (No perfect drawings required—you’re just representing an idea.)


Finish This Sentence . . . with Candy J. Cooper

As part of our Virtual Book Tour, TeachingBooks asks authors and illustrators to complete short sentence prompts. Enjoy Candy J. Cooper’s response.

I hope that my book inspires readers to. . .”

I hope that my book inspires readers to look at problems that might seem insurmountable—whether a warming climate or poisoned water or gun violence—and then decide to take steps with others to fix them. That’s what people in Flint did, and in some ways it worked.

“While researching this book . . .”

While researching this book, I stayed in my childhood home in Ann Arbor, Michigan, about an hour’s drive south of Flint. Driving from Ann Arbor to Flint and back those dozens of times was a constant reminder that America remains highly segregated, by cities and within towns.


Thank you!

To wrap up this Virtual Book Tour, we thank Candy J. Cooper for signing a book for all of us, with the message,”To a more potable future!”

Author Candy J. Cooper holding a copy of her book Poisoned Water, signed with the message, "To a more potable future!"

More Connections to Candy J. Cooper and Poisoned Water: How the Citizens of Flint, Michigan, Fought for Their Lives and Warned the Nation


Explore all of the titles featured in the TeachingBooks Virtual Book Tour: one link with author interviews, lesson plans, activities, and more!

All text and images are courtesy of Candy J. Cooper and Bloomsbury Children’s Books and may not be used without expressed written consent.

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