Code Word Courage
Code Word Courage

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Annotation: In September 1944 eleven-year-old Billie lives with her great aunt, Doff, eagerly waiting for her older brother Leo to return from boot camp, and desperate to find the father that left when she was little; but Leo brings a friend with him, a Navajo named Denny, and the injured dog they have rescued and named Bear, and when the two young men go off to war Bear becomes the thread that ties them all together, and helps Billie to find a true friend.
Catalog Number: #166688
Format: Perma-Bound Edition from Publisher's Hardcover
All Formats: Search
Copyright Date: 2018
Edition Date: 2018
Pages: 233 pages
Availability: Available
ISBN: Publisher: 0-545-84075-9 Perma-Bound: 0-7804-1870-0
ISBN 13: Publisher: 978-0-545-84075-0 Perma-Bound: 978-0-7804-1870-7
Dewey: Fic
LCCN: 2017035321
Dimensions: 21 cm.
Language: English
Reviews:
ALA Booklist
A friendless fifth-grade girl, a bullied Mexican American boy, and a WWII Navajo soldier all find much-needed courage in an abandoned, injured black dog named Bear. While home on leave, Denny finds Bear and asks his friend's little sister, Billie, to watch over its recovery, and the dog immediately fills a hole in Billie's heart. Chapters alternate between Billie and Denny but tell Tito's story as well. Fifth-grade boys constantly belittle Tito, who never fights back but finds a champion in Billie. Denny, as a Navajo Marine code talker in the Pacific Theater, sees vicious fighting but carries the strength of Bear's spirit with him in his darkest hour. With background research, including interviews with Navajo code talkers, and a knack for generating a heartwarming, genuine story, Larson seamlessly weaves the lives of the characters into the fabric of the 1944 45 home front setting. Kirby's fourth stand-alone book in the Dogs of World War II series is certain to find a place on the favorites shelf for middle-grade readers and their adults, whether parents, teachers, or librarians.
Horn Book
In 1967, twelve-year-old Bea joins her grandmother Pidge on a secret trip to her childhood home in Kansas, where Pidge hopes to reunite with her long-lost sister, aviatrix Amelia Earhart. En route, Bea bonds with Pidge and also develops an appreciation for her own newly blended family. Strong character development and a clever historical mystery make for a satisfying read. Contextual notes appended. Bib.
Kirkus Reviews
The fourth in Larson's series about the Dogs of World War II shifts between a girl on the homefront and a Navajo Code Talker.Leo, a young white Marine, has brought his Navajo friend Denny home with him from boot camp. As they hitchhike, Denny senses a whimper that leads him to a wounded stray dog the young men decide to take with them. At Leo's home, his little sister, Billie, adopts the dog, naming him Bear. After the young men return to duty, the chapters shift between Billie and Denny. Orphan Billie (their mother is dead and their father abandoned them) has become a target for bullying, so she seeks companionship with Bear and her friend Tito, the young Mexican boy whose father manages her aunt's ranch. Meanwhile, as Denny trains to be a Code Talker, he flashes back to his childhood time at boarding school. Well into the story, a jarring interlude from the dog's perspective interrupts the story when he senses an old friend is hurt—this is Denny, who has been wounded in battle. The story is mostly Billie's, and both Denny and Tito come across more as cultural informants than fully fleshed characters. Neither escapes stereotype: Denny sees Bear in a vision during battle, while Tito gives gardening advice and brings tortillas to the gringos. A fragmented story that would have served better had it focused on Billie. (author's note) (Historical fiction. 8-12)
Reviewing Agencies: - Find Other Reviewed Titles
ALA Booklist (3/1/18)
Horn Book (4/1/19)
Kirkus Reviews
Word Count: 34,938
Reading Level: 4.1
Interest Level: 3-6
Accelerated Reader: reading level: 4.1 / points: 5.0 / quiz: 194724 / grade: Middle Grades
Reading Counts!: reading level:3.3 / points:9.0 / quiz:Q73312
Lexile: 590L
The door swung open and Denny's knee jostled the desk as he hopped to attention. Eighteen sets of chair legs scraped the floor while an Anglo officer strode in, followed by two other Marines. Both Diné.The Anglo introduced himself in Navajo. Not fluent Navajo, but good enough to get by at the trading post. "Take a seat, gentlemen," Sergeant Johnston ordered.They did as instructed.The Anglo turned to one of the Diné officers. "Sergeant Manuelito, would you please get the door?"Manuelito pulled a set of keys from his pocket and efficiently, purposefully, locked the classroom. The tumbler thunked like an animal trap.Denny shot a glance over at Jesse, whose forehead wrinkled imperceptibly.Sergeant Johnston picked up a pointer and tapped at the list of words on the blackboard."Begay, what's this?" The pointer landed on ga-gih."Crow," Denny answered."That's what it meant yesterday. Today, it means patrol plane." The pointer kept tapping. Tas-chizzie, swallow, was a torpedo plane. Atsah, eagle, a transport plane.As the sergeant went down the list, Denny's heart beat faster. It was a code. The Navajo language was the basis of a code. That's why he was here. He glanced around the room. That's why they were all here.Sergeant Johnston cleared his throat. "From this moment on, nothing that you do or hear in this room leaves this room. Under penalty of imprisonment. Nothing." He stared down the rows of Marines. "Do I make myself clear?"Despite the hodgepodge of feelings he was experiencing -? bewilderment, curiosity, fear -- Denny had been in the Marines long enough to know there was only one possible response to the sergeant's question. At the top of his lungs, he answered with the rest of the men: "Yes, sir!"

Excerpted from Code Word Courage by Kirby Larson
All rights reserved by the original copyright owners. Excerpts are provided for display purposes only and may not be reproduced, reprinted or distributed without the written permission of the publisher.

Billie has lived with her great-aunt ever since her mom passed away and her dad left. Billie's big brother, Leo, is about to leave, too, for the warfront. But first, she gets one more weekend with him at the ranch.

Billie's surprised when Leo brings home a fellow Marine from boot camp, Denny. She has so much to ask Leo -- about losing her best friend and trying to find their father -- but Denny, who is Navajo, or Diné, comes with something special: a gorgeous, but injured, stray dog. As Billie cares for the dog, whom they name Bear, she and Bear grow deeply attached to each other.

Soon enough, it's time for Leo and Denny, a Navajo Code Talker, to ship out. Billie does her part for the war effort, but she worries whether Leo and Denny will make it home, whether she'll find a new friend, and if her father will ever come back. Can Bear help Billie -- and Denny -- find what's most important?

A powerful tale about unsung heroism on the WWII battlefield and the home front.


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