Posted by: Kathy Temean | October 8, 2018

Book Giveaway: Thirty Minutes over Oregon

Author Marc Tyler Nobleman has new picture book titled,THIRTY MINUTES OVER OREGON. It is illustrated by Melissa Iwai. It hit bookshelves yesterday. Marc has agreed to share a book with one lucky winner. All you have to do to get in the running is to leave a comment. Reblog, tweet, or talk about it on Facebook with a link and you will get additional chances to win. Just let me know the other things you do to share the good news, so I can put in the right amount of tickets in my basket for you.

Sharing on Facebook, Twitter, reblogging really helps spread the word for a new book. Thanks for helping Marc and Melissa!


In this important and moving true story of reconciliation after war, beautifully illustrated in watercolor, a Japanese pilot bombs the continental U.S. during WWII—the only enemy ever to do so—and comes back 20 years later to apologize.

The devastating attack on Pearl Harbor, Hawaii, drew the United States into World War II in 1941. But few are aware that several months later, the Japanese pilot Nobuo Fujita dropped bombs in the woods outside a small town in coastal Oregon. This is the story of those bombings, and what came after, when Fujita returned to Oregon twenty years later, this time to apologize.
This remarkable true story, beautifully illustrated in watercolor, is an important and moving account of reconciliation after war.


Twenty years to thirty minutes

The death of Nobuo Fujita brought him to life for me. In 1997, the friend of my then-girlfriend, now-wife Daniela ripped out Nobuo’s obituary from The New York Times and asked her to give it to me in case I found it a story worth writing about.

That I did. Immediately. Even though I’m not a war buff nor a Japanophile. But I’d never heard a war story like this. Never heard a story of any kind like this. And I knew of no nonfiction picture book with what I think is this story’s primary theme: redemption.

In short, in 1942, Nobuo did something no one before him or since has done. He became the only person in history to bomb the U.S. mainland from a plane. (Launched off a submarine. Twice in three weeks.) You haven’t heard of this because those bombs didn’t kill anybody. They didn’t even hurt anybody. But they changed lives. Most strikingly, Nobuo’s. So despite his fears, in 1962, he flew back to America to say he was sorry.

Much as I loved the story, I didn’t start researching and writing about Nobuo until ten years after I read the obit. I shopped around Thirty Minutes Over Oregon with confidence. Lots of editors were moved by it.

None acquired it.

After several years of rejection, I spoke publicly about this in 2011, striving to articulate why it’s important that we give our young people stories about historical figures who aren’t covered in school. I believe a nonfiction best practice is to flush out jaw-dropping stories that don’t yet occupy a book of their own. The element of surprise, when delivered creatively, can overturn the stigma that nonfiction is dull.

I felt some anxiety about issuing my call to action (it could be misinterpreted as sour grapes), but the experiment generated humbling responses. I thought it might accelerate the selling process.

It didn’t. My manuscript was like three of Nobuo’s four Oregon bombs–it made an impact but left no mark.

Finally, in 2014, Jennifer Greene at Clarion saw the potential. The book took flight.

The story is about two cultures, two nations coming together, so I requested that we look for an artist with Japanese heritage. Jennifer and Clarion agreed, which led us to Melissa Iwai. She was a gift of a collaborator. I knew we were in good hands when she asked me what month a certain newspaper article I mentioned in the story had run so she could depict the people in that scene wearing clothes appropriate for the season. Speaking of hands, she injured one of hers–her dominant–and had to teach herself how to sketch with the other. I’d by lying if I said that didn’t make me nervous, but even a quick glance at her rich work for the book shows that she’s more ambidextrous than she thought.

Twenty years passed between Nobuo’s bombing raid and his return to apologize. Twenty years passed between my discovery of Nobuo’s story and the publication of the book. Like Nobuo’s flight, my journey was full of uncertainty. We both thought we’d be shot down. But I kept puttering till I found my landing zone, and I feel all the more enriched for it. Thank you to my co-pilots: Jennifer, Melissa, Daniela, Daniela’s friend, and, of course, Nobuo.


Marc Tyler Nobleman is the author of “Bill the Boy Wonder: The Secret Co-Creator of Batman” (which changed history, inspiring both the Hulu documentary “Batman & Bill” and a TED talk and changed pop culture history, inspiring Batman & Bill, the first documentary based on children’s nonfiction), the author of Boys of Steel: The Creators of Superman (which made the front page of USA Today) Other titles include Brave Like My BrotherThirty Minutes over Oregon: A Japanese Pilot’s World War II StoryFairy Spell: How Two Girls Convinced the World That Fairies Are Real, and The Chupacabra Ate the Candelabra. Marc has been invited to speak at elementary, middle, and high schools internationally (from Thailand to Tanzania) and blogs about adventures in publishing at Noblemania (from research victories to enthusiastic librarians).


Melissa is an author and illustrator of children’s books, based in Brooklyn, NY. She has illustrated over 30 books and has worked with many clients during her almost twenty year career. This includes, but isn’t limited to: Henry Holt/Christy Ottaviano Books, Clarion Books, HMHCo, Viking, Scholastic, Harper Collins, Simon and Schuster, and Random House.

From the time she was a little kid, she wanted to write and illustrate children’s books. She used to staple paper together and make tiny books for her dolls.

I live with my husband, Denis Markell (also a children’s book author), and teenage son in a teeny, tiny apartment. My painting area and computer space do double duty.


Melissa here, to talk about my side of the book’s journey as the illustrator. Marc is being supremely generous when he mentioned my ambidexterity! I did do portions of the preliminary sketches with my left hand, but the finals were all done with my right.

When I first received the manuscript I knew immediately that I wanted to be a part of the project. I was so moved by this amazing story. I felt a real connection to it on several levels. For one, being of Japanese descent and having lived in Japan for a few years after college, I felt an affinity with and understanding of the culture.

My parents were both born and raised in Hawaii and my mother actually witnessed the destruction of Pearl Harbor from Honolulu the day it was bombed. They were both deeply affected by the war. Coincidentally, my father now lives a few hours north of where the Oregon bombing occurred.

I would be lying if I said I wasn’t overwhelmed in the beginning. And I have to say that in my almost twenty year career of illustrating children’s books, it was the most challenging. I had never done a non-fiction, 40-page book for older readers and certainly never in watercolor before. I was definitely out of my comfort zone!

The style of work Jennifer Greene, our editor, was drawn to were my watercolor and pen paintings of people I see in daily life in Brooklyn where I live.

I had never before done an illustration project in this style or medium. I didn’t even know how I was going to translate doing those quick studies into finished paintings for a book.

I decided to begin with the research. Since my work in this style largely depends on sketching from life and photographs, I knew I needed excellent photo reference of Nobuo, his plane, people and scenes from Brookings, Oregon, where a lot of the story takes place over several decades. Since my father lives in Oregon, I decided to fly out for a visit as well as go to Brookings and visit the bombsite. With the help of many kind people there, I was able to gather a wealth of photo reference from the Curry Coastal Pilot’s archives (the local newspaper there), the Chetco Historical Museum, and the Chetco Library. I was able to visit the bombsite which was an

amazing experience. And I took many photos at dawn along the Oregon coast right where Nobuo flew his plane.

After returning to New York, I did many, many sketches using the reference material I had collected.

I also sketched the bombing scene from the film, Tora! Tora! Tora! to get a feel for an aerial attack and to practice dynamic composition and painting explosions.

For the final book illustrations, I ended up doing several iterations of the same scenes. Watercolor is very unforgiving and it doesn’t allow for many mistakes.

I also decided to separate my ink line from my watercolor painting for more control and possible future revisions and because, quite frankly, I didn’t want to risk making a mistake with inking when drawing directly on my completed painting.

It later dawned on me that I painted much better at a smaller size, so I repainted several paintings and scanned them in, along with other inking textures, at a very high resolution (600dpi). I then assembled the elements together in Photoshop.

It has truly been an honor to be part of this project with Marc. I am happy that this story is going to be discovered by many more people, especially children. Nobuo himself wanted to share children’s books about other cultures to broaden understanding between countries, and he donated thousands of dollars for books on this topic. He hoped that a war like WWII would never happen again.

Wow! Marc and Melissa, this has been a real treat with both of you sharing your journeys and Melissa showing her artwork. I am sure this is going to be a big seller. It appears to have everything you would want in a picture book. Good Luck and keep in touch when the awards roll in.

Talk tomorrow,



  1. Wow! What a fascinating story! I can’t wait to read THIRTY MINUTES OVER OREGON; shared on Twitter.


  2. What a wonderful story. I would LOVE a copy of this book. I tweeted, shared on FB and am reblogging.


  3. Reblogged this on Darlene Beck-Jacobson and commented:
    As a lover of history and stories of the past, this one sounds like a winner and I had to share it.


  4. What a fascinating story, I had no idea that this had ever happened. Thanks so much for a chance to win a copy of this book!
    I’ve tweeted a link to this post:, and pinned an image with a link on Pinterest:
    Thanks again, have a great week!


  5. This looks like an amazing book. We need books about reconciliation, and I’m so glad that Clarion could see that. Melissa’s art is so different from her normal work, and just as wonderful.


  6. This book looks like a real winner. Compelling and important. As a WWII writer myself, I can’t wait to read it.


  7. Reblogged this on One Good Thing and commented:
    Sounds like an excellent read!


  8. Such an amazing story – both finding out about the true story & also the occurrence itself. And I admire your perseverance, Marc, to bring this story to life! I’ll be sharing this on twitter, too!


  9. Fascinating! I am going to recommend that our local library’s children’s dept acquire this book. I love reading the author and illustrator’s stories behind the story!


  10. LOVE hearing all this background and process! 🙂


  11. Wonderful! Agree completely these stories must be cherished…thank goodness Jennifer at Clarion took a chance! Love Melissa’s watercolours! Cannot wait to read THIRTY MINUTES OVER OREGON. Great blog post! Congratulations!


  12. I knew about the bombing. Kudos for creating this book, Marc and Melissa. It looks like a fascinating and beautiful read. I’ve requested it from interlibrary loan (my library’s children’s librarian always checks the books I request, which sometimes leads to her purchasing them!). Can’t wait to get my hands on it.


  13. This sounds like a fantastic book. Reading this would be an educational experience for me and my sons.


  14. Can’t wait to read this! I’m a bit of an aviation geek as well as a WWII buff. Always drawn to non-fiction books, especially books promoting cultural diversity!


  15. What an amazing story with exquisite illustrations. Thanks to both of you for telling this story.


  16. What a fascinating story. I had heard of the bombing, but not the visit 20 years later. Thanks for telling me about this book. I will check it out.


  17. Wow! What an amazing story. I cannot wait to read this book. I’m so glad you persisted, Marc, and Melissa, the illustrations are gorgeous.


  18. All I can say is wow! What a journey – 20 yrs. That’s what I call persistence. The fact that it paid off finally, and that you never gave up hope, is extraordinary. Bravo , Mr. Tyler. And thanks for sharing his story, Kathy.

    Liked by 1 person

  19. Wow! I heard about this story and recently saw it on Amazon! Until recently I never heard the story about Oregon and I read a lot of historical fiction/nonfiction. I’d love to read/review this book! Congratulations!


  20. Thanks so much, Kathy, for featuring the book and hosting the giveaway! !


  21. I really appreciate seeing authors who take the time to treat kids like invested readers with a thirst for knowledge. These kinds of books are invaluable for handing down the lessons that are important and also overlooked in history textbooks.


  22. What a remarkable story, with perfect illustrations!

    Liked by 1 person

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