Monday, September 12, 2011


KN: How did this story come to you?

NBF: I lived on Saipan for about ten years, teaching and working with students, especially guiding their own writing about their island. I also worked with the man, Filipe Ruak, who survived hiding in the caves with this family during the war and then "saved the dances." His dance group was make of young men who danced the traditional dances, an important part of their culture. Dancing is part prayer, part being physically fit, part community connections.

Filipe Ruak shared many stories about his childhood. When I said I was interested in writing a novel about the story of his people and how they survived the war, he asked me to do that. Filipe Ruak and his courage to tell his people's story is the reason I wrote Warriors in the Crossfire.

KN: Is Suicide Cliff a national monument?

NBF: Yes, Suicide Cliff is a national monument. You can stand at that cliff's edge, look straight down nearly a thousand feet, see the ocean crash against volcanic boulders and imagine. Slender white birds, fairy terns, swoop and circle the face of the cliff. Islanders believe they are the spirits of the people who died there.

KN: How did you decide which Japanese characters to include in you chapter headings?

NBF: The Japanese characters, the kanji, that begin each chapter were carefully selected. I wanted each character to reflect the heart, the theme, of each chapter. Sometimes I think of the nesting dolls in which one fits into another. The kanji character fits into the "little beginning poem" which fits within the chapter.

KN: How did you develop the father/son theme?

NBF: The father-son relationship seemed essential to Joseph's learning about the deeper meaning of being a warrior. Joseph needed to understand the wisdom of his father and his Japanese teacher, Sensei, to let grow from being a boy and becoming a man.

KN: Is there anything else you'd like to tell us?

NBF: I did indeed swim with the turtles and sharks. I wanted to have the courage to hold onto a turtle by its shell and RIDE. I didn't have the courage to do that but I did paddle my kayak over the reef and wait for the sharks to come near (out of curiosity not hunger!). I put on my mask and snorkel and felt the terror of being in the deep dark water with a shark swimming beneath me.

Monday, September 5, 2011


By Nancy Bo Flood

Publisher: Front Street

ISBN: 978-1-59078-661-1

FROM THE FLAP: Where could they hide? The Japanese would shoot anyone in the caves. The Americans would eat the children. Who could they trust? Joseph didn’t know. There was no one left to ask. The explosions kept coming closer.

In the final months of WWII, the tiny South Pacific island of Saipan provided a vital buffer between Japan and the advancing American forces. Japan vowed to defend these islands to the last man. One of the bloodiest battles in the Pacific war ensued—more than 30,000 Japanese and Americans lost their lives. These numbers do not include the natives who were killed—the Chamorro, Rafalawash, and Rapaganor—all caught in the crossfire.

Based on historical events, this story unfolds through the eyes of Joseph and his half-Japanese cousin, Kento. These clear-voiced characters move convincingly through war and mounting pressure to take unimaginable horrors of Suicide Cliff, they discover, within themselves, what it means to become warriors. One boy’s journey through this little-known chapter of history illuminates the rich texture and culture of the island.

KATE’S TAKE: A harrowing WWII journey that celebrates family, friendship, and honor.

BOATS THAT FLOAT Visual/Spatial Logical/Mathematical

Divide students into pairs. Give each pair a 12 by 12 inch piece of aluminum foil, ten tongue depressors, and a glue stick. Ask each pair to design a boat. Place each boat in a tub of water and see how many pennies each boat holds. If you want, have students graph the results and calculate the mean, medium, mode, maximum, minimum and range of pennies held by each pair’s boat.

IMPRESSIONISTIC POEMS Verbal/Linguistic Interpersonal Intrapersonal

Write a brief poem modeled after the poems that lead into each chapter. Have students read their poems to the class. Although Ms. Flood’s poems are free-form, haiku and diamante poems work well with this activity, too.


Give students a paper, brush, and black ink. Ask them to choose a Kanji character that speaks to them. They may choose one from the book, or pick one on line at . Then, ask them to paint the symbol.

TURTLE AND SHARK ORIGAMI Visual/Spatial Verbal/Linguistic

Rewrite chapter two, Turtle and Shark, from the turtle or shark’s point of view. Then, fold an origami shark or turtle to accompany your story.

WIND IN THE WILLOWS Musical Interpersonal Intrapersonal

Gather the class in a circle and ask one member to step forward and name a song, musician, or type of music that the individual likes. Anyone else who likes the named song, person, or music steps into the circle. Repeat until everyone has had a turn. No one may step into the middle and repeat something that has been said before.

BOOK BUDDIES (These are all listed in the back of Ms. Flood’s book)
A Boy at War: A Novel of Pearl Harbor by Harry Mazer
The Cay by Theodore Taylor
Eyes of the Emperor by Graham Salisbury
House of the Red Fish by Graham Salisbury
Under the Blood-Red Sun by Graham Salisbury