|Chester Nez and the unbreakable code : a Navajo code talker's story|
Author: Bruchac, Joseph
As a boy, Chester Nez was taught his native language and culture were useless, but he was later called on to use his Navajo language to help create an unbreakable military code during WWII.
Download a Teacher's Guide
|Accelerated Reader Information:|
Interest Level: MG
Reading Level: 4.80
Points: .5 Quiz: 194117
|Reading Counts Information:|
Interest Level: 3-5
Reading Level: 4.70
Points: 3.0 Quiz: 72530
Kirkus Reviews (+) (03/01/18)
School Library Journal (05/01/18)
The Bulletin of the Center for Children's Books (00/06/18)
Full Text Reviews:
Booklist - 04/01/2018 Bruchac distills his extensive knowledge about the Navajo code talkers in this complex biography for young readers. When Betoli is taken to boarding school at the age of eight, his name is changed to Chester, his head shaved, and his language forbidden. Despite his own despair, Chester stays strong and comforts other children when nightmares plague them. This is a story of forced adaptation: Chester learns English and Christian prayers in order to survive, while maintaining his Navajo identity. It is a story of conflict: Chester lends his skills to the very power that fought his people. His work with the U.S. military, developing the code that results in the enemy’s defeat, brings him both trauma and honor. The tragic irony of Chester’s life may be lost on young readers, but older ones may ask salient questions about a society that forbade Navajo ways until they were useful. Amini-Holmes’ striking illustrations bring these contrasts to life, merging both of Chester’s lives while keeping them distinctly separate. An author’s note adds detail and context. - Copyright 2018 Booklist.
School Library Journal - 05/01/2018 Gr 2–5—Bruchac has penned a moving portrait of Chester Nez, a Navajo code talker who survived the residential school system and World War II. The narrative opens in 1929, with an eight-year-old Betoli being forced into a missionary's truck and given the name Chester. Even though he was told to only speak English in order to "live in the white man's world," he decided to never forget his language and his people. Once he graduated, he joined the U.S. Marine Corps and was placed in platoon number 382, the group who created the only unbreakable code during the Second World War. Told in chronological segments (e.g., "December 1941: Month of Crusted Snow"), the work explores how closely the trauma of the residential school system and of fighting in war resemble each other. Amini-Holmes's illustrations are visceral in their depiction of pain; however, these moments are offset by more joyful scenes of Nez with family and his fellow code talkers and of him living "the Right Way." ("But what he felt best about…able to live the Right Way as a Navajo, holding on to his language and traditions despite being told in school to give up his culture.") Back matter includes an author's note and a portion of the Navajo code. VERDICT A can't-miss picture book biography.—Amanda C. Buschmann, Carroll Elementary School, Houston - Copyright 2018 Publishers Weekly, Library Journal and/or School Library Journal used with permission.