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 Paula Yoo

Paula Yoo on From a Whisper to a Rallying Cry: The Killing of Vincent Chin and the Trial that Galvanized the Asian American Movement

In this post, we feature author Paula Yoo, whose award-winning titles include Sixteen Years in Sixteen Seconds: The Sammy Lee Story. You can hear her speak about her new YA nonfiction title, From a Whisper to a Rallying Cry: The Killing of Vincent Chin and the Trial that Galvanized the Asian American Movement, and try her “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!


Paula Yoo and the cover of From a Whisper to a Rallying Cry

From a Whisper to a Rallying Cry: The Killing of Vincent Chin and the Trial that Galvanized the Asian American Movement

  • Written by Paula Yoo
  • Published by Norton Young Readers, an imprint of W. W. Norton
  • Release date: April 20, 2021

In 1982 Detroit, where changes in the auto industry were fueling anti-Asian sentiment, a bar fight turned fatal: a Chinese American man, Vincent Chin, was beaten to death by two white men, autoworker Ronald Ebens and his stepson, Michael Nitz.

Paula Yoo has crafted a searing examination of the killing, the trial, the verdict, and the lenient sentencing that sparked outrage. The surrounding protests led to a federal civil rights trial—the first involving a crime against an Asian American—and galvanized what came to be known as the Asian American movement. Extensively researched from court transcripts, contemporary news accounts, and in-person interviews with key participants, From a Whisper to a Rallying Cry is a suspenseful, nuanced, and authoritative portrait of a pivotal moment in civil rights history, and a man who became a symbol against hatred and racism.

From From a Whisper to a Rallying Cry: The Killing of Vincent Chin and the Trial that Galvanized the Asian American Movement, by Paula Yoo

It was nine days before Vincent Chin’s wedding to Vikki Wong was to take place.

Read a longer excerpt from From a Whisper to a Rallying Cry: The Killing of Vincent Chin and the Trial that Galvanized the Asian American Movement, by Paula Yoo.

Explore From a Whisper to a Rallying Cry: The Killing of Vincent Chin and the Trial that Galvanized the Asian American Movement

Listen to Paula Yoo talking with TeachingBooks about creating From a Whisper to a Rallying Cry: The Killing of Vincent Chin and the Trial that Galvanized the Asian American Movement. 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 Paula Yoo.

Imagination Activity with Paula Yoo

As you read From a Whisper to a Rallying Cry, imagine that you are a member of the jury for the first federal trial in 1984. You have received information from both sides of the casefrom the defense and the prosecution. It is now up to you to make a decision on Ronald Ebens and Michael Nitz’s fates. Do you think they are guilty or not guilty of violating Vincent Chin’s civil rights? You must be able to defend your decision to the other members of the jury.

In addition, imagine you are a member of the jury for the re-trial in 1987, when Ronald Ebens was acquitted and his original “guilty” verdict was overturned. The reason why? Accusations of alleged witness coaching. Do you agree or disagree with this acquittal and why? How would you defend your decision to the other jury members?


Finish This Sentence . . . with Paula Yoo

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

“I knew I would be a writer when…”

I knew I would be a writer when I read Charlotte’s Web in the first grade. I loved how Charlotte could share her ideas by writing just one word in her web. This book made me realize the power of words. I wrote my first “novel” in the second grade and submitted it to Harper & Row because they published a lot of my favorite books. They wrote a nice letter back saying that I was talented and that I should submit a story to their children’s writing contest. I remember tearing up the letter and crying to my parents, “I’m not a CHILD writer! I’m a REAL writer!” Who knew it would be over 30 years later when Harper & Row would become HarperCollins and publish my first YA novel, Good Enough, in 2008? I guess I finally proved that I was a “real” writer!

“You may not know that I can…”

You may not know that I can play the violin. I have played the violin since kindergarten. Although I was classically trained, I also play jazz, rock, hip hop, country, and even heavy metal violin! I write to say what’s on my mind, but I play music to show what’s in my heart.

“Where I work is…”

Where I work is in my house. I write in my office at the back of the house. My three cats Oreo, Beethoven and Charlotte always keep me company! So I call my office the “Writing Catcave.”

Paula Yoo's computer desk with her cat.
Paula Yoo with two of her cats lying on her legs.

“I hope that my book may encourage readers to think about…”

I hope that my book may encourage teenagers to think about how even just one person can make a difference in the fight against racism by simply speaking up and saying, “This is not okay.” I hope teens realize that their voices matter and that they can make a difference if they speak out against injustice.


Thank you!

To wrap up this Virtual Book Tour, we thank Paula Yoo for signing a book for all of us.

The title page of From a Whisper to a Rallying Cry, signed by the author, Paula Yoo, with the message, "We will always continue to fight back against hate. That is what Vincent Chin's legacy has taught us."

More Connections to Paula Yoo and BFrom a Whisper to a Rallying Cry: The Killing of Vincent Chin and the Trial that Galvanized the Asian American Movement


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

Author photo by Sonya Sones. All other text and images are courtesy of Paula Yoo and Norton Books and may not be used without expressed written consent.

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