Author: Joeseph Bruchac Publication Date: 2005
Number of Pages: 231
Setting: United States and Occupied Pacific Islands/ World War Two 1943-1945
Ned Begay- intelligent and eager Navajo student; loyal, capable, and strong Marine
Plot Summary: A grandfather addressing his grandchildren speaks of his life as a Navajo Marine. He begins with his time in mission school where he was taught the Navajo language was wrong and useless. Later he becomes a member of the elite group of code talkers for the Marine Corps in World War Two. His native tongue helped the US create an unbreakable code used for the most important messages in the war. He discusses his personal experiences in the war.
Appeal: Story line follows the life of the main character; Character fitting for the time period; Conversational style (first person) generates a quick pace but still historically and statistically detailed; Minimal graphic violence; Appeal to adults who read YA novels, interested in Native American literature, and/or enjoy personal accounts of war (fictional).
Brief quote: “Speaking. Speaking through that day and the next and the next. Even when our voices grew hoarse, we did not stop. Our Navajo nets kept everything connected like a spider’s strands spanning distant branches. The winds of batter lever broke our web. As the battle for Iwo Jima raged all around up, our voices held it together” (187).
Prizes or Awards: ALA Notable Children's Books Older Readers Category: 2006; YALSA Best Books for Young Adults: 2006; Starred Reviews in Booklist and Kirkus;
Similar Works: Heroes Don't Run: A Novel of the Pacific War by Harry Mazer: first person; personal war account; historical fiction; teen historical fiction; WW2 in the Pacific (found on NL, selected by reviewer)
Windtalkers: A novelization by Max Allen Collins: same subject matter; fast paced (found on NL, selected by reviewer) *movie tie-in, also available on DVD
The Pacific HBO miniseries (Nonfiction companion book of same title by Hugh Ambrose): World War Two in the Pacific (selected by reviewer)
Reviewer’s Name: Julia Robinson
Adapted from Saricks, Joyce G. and Nancy Brown. Readers’ Advisory Service in the Public Library 2nd. Chicago: ALA, 1997.