The North Pole Is Sinking! About the authors Buy the book About Global Warming Reviews
Michael and Ethan Matsuda Ethan Khiem Matsuda is a second grader at Raymond Elementary School in Fullerton, CA. He thought of the story idea while examining a globe and noticed that there was no ice cap depicted on the North Pole. He recalls, "I was really worried about Santa and what he was going to do. My dad and I wrote down our thoughts and after many drafts, created this story." Besides reading and writing, Ethan enjoys piano, fishing, and watching NOVA and other PBS documentaries.

Michael Matsuda is a teacher with the Anaheim Union High School District. He also is a member of the California Curriculum Commission and a Trustee for the North Orange County Community College District. Michael Matsuda can be reached at

Dear Mr. Ethan Matsuda and Michael Matsuda:

I am currently enrolled in John F. Kennedy High School P.A.L. class. I'm writing to tell you how much I enjoyed reading The North Pole is Sinking! It was so cute! I loved the fact that you and your son wrote a story that educated young children about problems in our society like global warming and how others parts of the world deal with it. I work with children in an after school program and through my observations, most children have heard about global warming but they do not understand it. You and your son managed to put this issue in terms children would understand and enjoy learning about. I also loved your innovative idea to make the president of the United States a female and the fact that you illustrated the children of the book as kids of all races, not just one. Thank you for writing such a wonderful children's book and I hope to share it with the students I work with on a daily basis in order to inform them about such a pressing issue in society.

Meghan Maher, Senior

Dear Mr. Matsuda

I loved you and your son's book on global warming. It is so great to see young kids these days writing on such important topics of the world. I also liked how Ethan presented how other countries were working on other ways to prevent pollution. Ethan is a very special boy and I hope you are very proud of him and his accomplishments.

Matt Oliver


I am a retired teacher and enjoy going back to classrooms to read aloud to students.  Yesterday I read your book to 2nd, 3rd, and 4th grade classes in Lowell Joint School District. The students were very impressed and surprised to learn  that someone your age could write a book./p>

While I was reading your book to a 4th grade class, we discussed causes of smog, the ozone layer, possible causes of global warming, alternative forms of energy, and the possibility of electing a woman president.  Your book gave us so many interesting topics for discussion!

I'm so glad I bought a copy of your book and am looking forward to hearing more about your next one.

Most sincerely yours,
Mrs. Monika Broome

Whiz-kid author tackles global warming

Fullerton News-Tribune; Nov 3, 2005; Neighbors; Page 14

Imagine global warming striking the North Pole.

Whatever will Santa do if his factory sinks and he can't deliver all the toys he and his helpers have diligently constructed for months? Where can he go to get help? From a female president? From environmentally astute children?

A novel idea?

You bet, and Raymond School second-grader Ethan Kheim Matsuda has already formulated the plot and published the results in his first children's novella, "The North Pole is Sinking: A Tale About Global Warming."

Of course, he had some help from his father, high school English teacher Michael Matsuda.

Granted, Dad was probably there to add some catchy phasing and hired the illustrator, Vanessa Lam, from his alma mater, UCLA.

But after meeting Ethan, 7, it's apparent he's quite capable of conjuring up concepts by himself.

The Matsudas will be in the spotlight at 2 p.m. Saturday at Libreria Martinez Bookstore, 1110 N. Main St., Santa Ana where Ethan will hold a book signing. U.S. Rep. Loretta Sanchez, D-Santa Ana, agreed to attend. Orders are also available at

Ethan already has the attributes of a best-selling author.

He's approachable, conversant, captivating, intelligent and a whiz at marketing. Simply put, he's a pint-sized wonder.

We're sitting in the front office at Raymond with his grandmother, Ruth Matsuda, who lives down the street. Ethan announces, "I popped a mint in my mouth so my breath would be fresh."

Good idea, Ethan. We wish more adults were as considerate.

Raymond Principal Yolanda McComb ushers us into her office where Ethan is prepared for an interview. He quickly explains his mother, Suzie Dong-Matsuda, was visiting Taiwan last August and he wanted to check on a National Geographic globe exactly where she was located.

"I noticed there was no ice on the North Pole, and I thought about global warming," Ethan remembers. "Dad tells me things that may be causing trouble to the world."

He picks up one of his 2,000 self-published editions and summarizes its discussion points: smog, reindeer coughing, windmills to harness electricity from the wind, solar panels, hydrogen-powered cars and even chicken poop to make clean fuel.

This is one curious, creative kid.

Contacted at his job, Michael says he and Ethan worked on the story for a few weeks while vacationing last August in Monterey.

"This is a great accomplishment for Ethan and his dad to do in one summer," McComb says. "This book gives me a lot of hope; it's an example of what kids in the future can do for us."

Grandma Ruth says she's been reading to Ethan since he was a toddler. And they visit the Bookmobile when it comes to Raymond.

Ask Ethan what else he enjoys, and there's not one word about computers or video games. He's too busy playing with Legos, HO trains, toy gears and a solar racer. And for last year's science fair, he had business cards printed with the moniker, Ethan Matsuda, Rocket Scientist.

"My daddy plays with me and takes me places all the time," Ethan says. "Mom is on the computer a lot and in class because she wants to be an eye doctor."

Meanwhile, Ethan has been practicing printing his first name and year of publication for his book signing. Is there another novel in the works? "We're still brainstorming about a story with the Easter bunny," Ethan says. "But I really don't want to say any more than that." You know, best-selling authors don't divulge their works in progress.

READING IS FUN for Ethan Matsuda, especially if it’s your self-written book. Here, he shares his writing talents with Grandma Ruth Matsuda and good friend, Tina Meyer, 7, at Raymond School.

The Morning Read: He's on top of the world

Author Ethan Matsuda, 7, wants to save Earth–and Santa's home–from warming.

The Orange County Register

TELLING HIS STORY: "Our goal is to really give him the tools to nourish his education," Ethan Matsuda’s mother says. "We want him to discover dreams of his own."


YORBA LINDA - Ethan Matsuda, 7, is worried about the future of Santa Claus.

His eyes light up, his voice rises with urgency as he describes what he says is the "dilemma. That means problem," he clarifies.

The Yorba Linda second-grader isn't shy about talking to readers, reporters - even a congresswoman - about his children's book that he hopes will help save Santa's home.

It's called "The North Pole Is Sinking!"

Ethan is a science fan, an enthusiastic reader of National Geographic Kids.

He's been reading about global warming and concerns that pollution and reckless energy use could be warming the Earth's atmosphere.

And that, he concluded, could be threatening the ice around the North Pole.

"There's a lot we need to do," Ethan says. "People should be thinking about Santa."

Ethan's book, self-published and co-written by his dad, Michael Matsuda, began in August with a simple question.

Along with his subscription to a science magazine, Ethan received an inflatable globe.

His mom, Xuyen "Suzie" Dong-Matsuda, was on a business trip to Taiwan, so he blew it up to pinpoint where mom was traveling.

Then, he looked up at the top, near the blow-up nozzle that marks the North Pole.

"Why isn't there ice up here?" he asked his dad.

"I'm not sure," his dad responded. "Why do you think?"

Ethan scratched his head for a moment, then an idea came to him.

You think it's because of global warming? What about Santa?

Ethan was intrigued. The questions kept coming.

"I'm amazed at how Ethan is able to connect the dots for himself if you just keep the conversation going," says Michael Matsuda, a high school English teacher and teaching mentor for the Anaheim Union High School District.

"As teachers, we struggle to encourage kids to build bridges and think about issues on their own.

"As we talked through this issue, it became clear it would make a good story."


Ethan is an only child, born to a third generation Japanese-American father and a mother who immigrated to the U.S. from Vietnam at 17.

She is a mental-health therapist with the Orange County Health Care Agency. She considers herself Ethan's emotional support. Dad is more a playmate. They try to limit the amount of TV Ethan watches. But he's fixated by documentaries on the Discovery Channel and PBS.

In first grade at Raymond Elementary School in Fullerton, Ethan entered the science fair with a display on how to build a rocket. He asked his dad to print him up some business cards that read, "Ethan Matsuda, Rocket Scientist."

"Our goal is to really give him the tools to nourish his education," his mother says. "We don't want him to fulfill our dreams for him.

"We want him to discover dreams of his own."


It was that attitude that led to the idea for a book.

A few days after the initial conversation, Ethan and his dad headed north to meet Suzie at a Bay Area conference.

On the way, Ethan continued to ask questions about global warming. So dad would ask, "What do you think Santa would say?"

Pretty soon they were building a story.

Santa flies from the North Pole looking for help. Somewhere over Southern California, Santa and his reindeer hit a cloud of smog and crash onto the roof of a home occupied by a boy named Ethan.

The character - who the real Ethan excitedly admits was inspired by him - asks for help solving the problem from his teacher, "Mrs. Counts" - named after his aunt Jackie Counts, who teaches at South Junior High in Anaheim.

Ethan considered what the teacher might say to help. And he remembered reading about alternative energy sources and giant wind generators of Denmark in that month's National Geographic - the one for big people.

So Ethan incorporated that into the story, too, having students write letters advocating the use of clean energy to "Mrs. President."

"That's because there's never been a woman president," Ethan explains. "And there should be." (Mom insists he came up with that character twist on his own.)

Ethan's parents weren't worried about trying to explain both sides of the global-warming debate. This was Ethan's book and it should be his words, they say.

Inside a Monterey motel, Ethan dictated the story while dad took notes, asking more questions to fill in the dialog and any holes in the story.

Matsuda worried that sitting in a motel room far from the beach might not be a 7-year-old's ideal vacation. Until Ethan, snacking on a bag of Cheetos as he told his story, looked over and - out of the blue - said, "Dad, this is the life!" holding his hand up for a high five.

Once the story was complete, Ethan asked about sharing it with others.

So Matsuda hired an art student, Vanessa Lam, at UCLA to illustrate the story. And paid a Garden Grove publishing company to print 1,200 copies. In all, the family invested about $10,000.

They've sold about 400 copies and received e-mails from across the country as bloggers have discovered their Web site,

Ethan this month held a book signing at Libreria Martinez bookstore in Santa Ana, where Rep. Loretta Sanchez, D-Garden Grove, interviewed him. He printed "Ethan 2005" on dozens of books.

"And kids in my class have been really nice to me too. I'm proud of myself and my dad," Ethan says.

He hopes children who read it will take the message to heart and write letters on Santa's behalf. But like any good writer, he's already thinking about his next project.

"I've got an idea that involves the Easter Bunny," Ethan says. "But that's next year."

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