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

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