Saturday, June 28, 2014

SEARCHING FOR DIVERSITY

When diversity is the subject, it’s not uncommon to hear the sentence,  “If only there were more books like…” completed by this title: The Absolutely True Diary of a Part Time Indian by Sherman Alexie. How about a hundred?

CODE TALKER by Joseph Bruchac, Dial Books, 2005

Many of the 100 books by author Joseph Bruchac draw on his Native American heritage. Code Talker is only one, but I chose it because it honors a brave, heroic service to our country that couldn’t be talked about for more than twenty years.

Main character Ned Begay is fictional, but he becomes very real to the reader as he joins the Marines in WWII and serves in the Pacific, from Guadalcanal to Iwo Jima.

Ned is young. He lies about his age so he can enlist in the Marines, and because he is a Navajo, he is assigned to a top secret task, performed only by Navajos: code talker.
The Navajo language is vital in the conflict with the Japanese because it is an unbreakable code. The courage and skill of the code talkers during some of the heaviest fighting of the war saved countless lives, but what they did and how they did it was so secret that when the war ended, not even their families on the reservation were told.

Only after the service of the code talkers is no longer classified does Ned begin his story: “Grandchildren, you asked me about this medal of mine. There is much to be said about it. This small piece of metal holds a story that I was not allowed to speak of for many winters. It is the true story of how Navajo Marines helped America win a great war.”
The work of prolific author Bruchac has won many awards including the Jane Addams Children’s Book Award for The Heart of a Chief.

Start with Sherman Alexie on your bookshelf and add the works of Joseph Bruchac. I hope your bookcase is large.

4 comments:

  1. I'm so glad to see this bit of our shared history in a children's book!

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    1. And there is so much more by this amazing author!

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  2. Wow! 100 books. That's amazing. Thanks for introducing this one, Joan. I have not yet read it.

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    1. The author is also a gifted storyteller. I was privileged to hear him speak at a book festival in Nashville a few years back.

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