Told through a grandfather’s memories, this work of historical fiction takes us back to the 1930’s, when a young Navajo boy is carried in his uncle’s wagon over 100 miles from home to the Rehoboth Mission boarding school. From the moment he walks through the school gates, Kii Yázhí, Little Boy, is charged not “to speak Navajo [or] be Navajo.” Nevertheless, Kii Yázhí, renamed Ned Begay (a now-common Navajo surname due to the ignorance of the bilagáanaa teachers) excels at his studies while holding on to his sacred language. Though underage, he answers the call for Navajo speakers also fluent in English to join the Marines for a secret World War II mission. Only after his all-Navajo platoon graduates from boot camp do they learn that they’re to be trained as the second class of Code Talkers, memorizing and enhancing the code based on the Navajo language for transmitting messages to and from the front lines of WWII. A captivating, historically accurate story of the boys and men responsible for the only spoken military code never deciphered, and a critical piece of US history that remained classified until 1969. —Michelle
"Readers who choose the book for the attraction of Navajo code talking and the heat of battle will come away with more than they ever expected to find."—Booklist, starred review
Throughout World War II, in the conflict fought against Japan, Navajo code talkers were a crucial part of the U.S. effort, sending messages back and forth in an unbreakable code that used their native language. They braved some of the heaviest fighting of the war, and with their code, they saved countless American lives. Yet their story remained classified for more than twenty years. But now Joseph Bruchac brings their stories to life for young adults through the riveting fictional tale of Ned Begay, a sixteen-year-old Navajo boy who becomes a code talker. His grueling journey is eye-opening and inspiring. This deeply affecting novel honors all of those young men, like Ned, who dared to serve, and it honors the culture and language of the Navajo Indians.
An ALA Best Book for Young Adults
"Nonsensational and accurate, Bruchac's tale is quietly inspiring..."—School Library Journal
About the Author
Joseph Bruchac is a highly acclaimed children's book author, poet, novelist and storyteller, as well as a scholar of Native American culture. Coauthor with Michael Caduto of the bestselling Keepers of the Earth series, Bruchac's poems, articles and stories have appeared in hundreds of publications, from Akwesasne Notes and American Poetry Review to National Geographic and Parabola. He has authored many books for adults and children including Code Talker: A Novel About the Navajo Marines of World War Two, Skeleton Man, and The Heart of a Chief. For more information about Joseph, please visit his website www.josephbruchac.com.
"Readers who choose the book for the attraction of Navajo code talking and the heat of battle will come away with more than they ever expected to find." —Booklist, starred review
"With its multicultural themes and well-told WWII history, this will appeal to a wide audience." —Kirkus Reviews, starred review "Bruchac's gentle prose presents a clear historical picture of young men in wartime, island hopping across the Pacific, waging war in the hells of Guadalcanal, Bougainville, and Iwo Jima. Nonsensational and accurate, Bruchac's tale is quietly inspiring..." —School Library Journal