|Code word courage (Dogs of World War II)|
Author: Larson, Kirby
In September 1944 eleven-year-old Billie lives with her great aunt, Doff, eagerly waiting for her older brother Leo to return from boot camp, and desperate to find the father that left when she was little; but Leo brings a friend with him, a Navajo named Denny, and the injured dog they have rescued and named Bear--and when the two young men go off to war Bear becomes the thread that ties them all together, and helps Billie to find a true friend.
Download a Teacher's Guide
|Accelerated Reader Information:|
Interest Level: MG
Reading Level: 4.10
Points: 5.0 Quiz: 194724
|Reading Counts Information:|
Interest Level: 3-5
Reading Level: 3.30
Points: 9.0 Quiz: 73312
Kirkus Reviews (02/15/18)
School Library Journal (03/01/18)
Full Text Reviews:
School Library Journal - 03/01/2018 Gr 4–6—A story of loneliness, loss, friendship, and identity set near the end of World War II. Readers meet 11-year-old Billie and see her struggle with the loss of her parents, her brother joining the Marines, and her best friend, Hazel, rejecting her. When her brother Leo comes to visit before shipping out, he brings his friend and fellow recruit, Denny, a member of the Navajo Nation. They also bring along Bear, an abandoned dog. Chapters from Denny and Bear offer readers different points of view. Denny's narrative focuses on his training as a Code Talker and his own struggle balancing his identity as a Navajo and a Marine. Denny experiences prejudice because of his ethnicity, as depicted in a scene in which he and Leo struggle to hitch a ride. Later, during a battle, Bear's spirit appears to Denny and guides him to safety; the book offers little context or information about Navajo spiritual beliefs and this scene may reinforce stereotypes about Native people. In an author's note, Larson describes a bit about her research and the interviews she conducted with several living Code Talkers. VERDICT Readers may want to seek out Joseph Bruchac's Code Talkers, or nonfiction accounts, such as Nathan Aaseng's Navajo Code Talkers and Andrea M. Page's Sioux Code Talkers of World War II.—Tamara Saarinen, Pierce County Library, WA - Copyright 2018 Publishers Weekly, Library Journal and/or School Library Journal used with permission.
Booklist - 04/15/2018 A friendless fifth-grade girl, a bullied Mexican American boy, and a WWII Navajo soldier all find much-needed courage in an abandoned, injured black dog named Bear. While home on leave, Denny finds Bear and asks his friend’s little sister, Billie, to watch over its recovery, and the dog immediately fills a hole in Billie’s heart. Chapters alternate between Billie and Denny but tell Tito’s story as well. Fifth-grade boys constantly belittle Tito, who never fights back but finds a champion in Billie. Denny, as a Navajo Marine code talker in the Pacific Theater, sees vicious fighting but carries the strength of Bear’s spirit with him in his darkest hour. With background research, including interviews with Navajo code talkers, and a knack for generating a heartwarming, genuine story, Larson seamlessly weaves the lives of the characters into the fabric of the 1944–45 home front setting. Kirby’s fourth stand-alone book in the Dogs of World War II series is certain to find a place on the favorites shelf for middle-grade readers and their adults, whether parents, teachers, or librarians. - Copyright 2018 Booklist.