Wednesday, July 30, 2008

The Random Shelf: Chapter Book

The Japanese capture of the Aleutian Islands is a little-remembered aspect of World War II. Until recently, I would have named Aleutian Sparrow as the only children's novel I knew of that dealt with this event. After reading The Wind is Not a River, I can name another novel that, although suitable for younger readers than Aleutian Sparrow, shows the surprise and fear that followed Japan's invasion of the islands.

June 8, 1942 starts off as a rather ordinary Sunday on the island of Attu. The tiny community is worshipping at church when the soldiers invade their island. Sasan and her brother, Sidak are on their way to service when they spot the soldiers. Until now, the Second World War is not at the forefront of the islanders' minds; communication and news to and from the broader world is practically nil.

Sasan and Sidak are initially successful at hiding, but soon encounter an injured Japanese soldier. Although understandably hesitant to assist him, their loyalty to the teachings of the Old Way and of Christianity persuade them to help the soldier.

The Wind is Not a River is a short chapter book (108 pages) that is not only a moving historical account of the Aleutian Islands invasion, but it is a morality story that could very well inspire excellent "what-if?" discussions.

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