Grateful American Kids

“Don’t Give Up: Dick Thelen’s Story of Survival” Book Signing

Join author Kaylynn Johnson and illustrator Reagan Minto for a book signing in Lansing, MI on Monday, March 28, 2022

Veteran Dick Thelen lived through a harrowing five days adrift in the Philippine Sea during WWII. His ship, the USS Indianapolis, was torpedoed and sunk by a Japanese submarine. He was one of only 317 who lived to tell the story. About 300 men went down with the ship; nearly 600 others died from injuries, shark attacks, dehydration or salt poisoning from drinking ocean water. Young author Kaylynn Johnson tells this powerful story for young readers, and young artist Reagan Minto brings his story to life with her artwork. Don’t Give Up: Dick Thelen’s Story of Survival is available on Amazon.


The event is a fundraiser for a USS Indianapolis memorial in Lansing, MI. Veteran Dick Thelen’s last speaking event, before he passed away, was at a fair talking about the need for the memorial to honor the 98 Michigan men aboard the Indy. There were 27 survivors and 71 men who were lost at sea from his state.

A BOOK by ME, a book series developed by Deb Bowen, empowers students to preserve history by telling the story of unsung heroes in our communities. For the young participants, it’s a guided cross-curricular project that gathers stories of people who do amazing things but have received little or no recognition. Students learn how to publish a picture book that is a primary source document with photographs and a biography.

Since 2003, Deb Bowen has been arranging meetings between students and individuals from the WWII generation. This intergenerational storytelling results in unique storybooks written and illustrated by kids for kids in the A BOOK by ME series. More about Deb Bowen >

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