Sink or Swim: A Novel of WWII
Sink or Swim: A Novel of WWII
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Annotation: In January 1942, twelve-year-old Colton is on his family's fishing boat in the Atlantic with his older brother Danny when the boat is capsized by a Nazi U-boat, and Danny is severely injured; realizing how close the enemy is, Colton takes his brother's enlistment papers and joins the Navy, determined to do his part to defeat Germany, if only he can keep his age a secret and survive life at sea.
Catalog Number: #6104164
Format: Publisher's Hardcover
All Formats: Search
Copyright Date: 2017
Edition Date: 2017
Pages: 247 pages
Availability: Available
ISBN: 1-338-05790-1
ISBN 13: 978-1-338-05790-4
Dewey: Fic
LCCN: 2017003934
Dimensions: 22 cm.
Language: English
Reviews:
ALA Booklist
When Colton's older brother Danny is seriously injured in an explosion caused by a German U-boat off the coast of their home, an angry and determined Colton assumes Danny's enlistment papers and takes his place in the Navy. At 12 years old, can Colton look old enough? Not really, but a desperate Navy turns a blind eye and sets Colton on the adventurous and terrifying journey of a lifetime. He trains to help patrol craft escort cargo ships and keep them safe from U-boat attacks. The grueling training and heart-stopping peril of the seas during WWII will glue readers to the page. Watkins evokes the horror of war and desperation of the fighting force all while portraying an erstwhile and appealing young hero. Loosely based on WWII's youngest soldier, who served in the Pacific, this also brings home how vulnerable the U.S. coastal areas were and how many civilian and military deaths there were far from the battlefields. Fine, high-action historical fiction that will find an enthusiastic audience.
Kirkus Reviews
The experiences of a 12-year-old in the Battle of the Atlantic are chronicled in this engrossing historical novel. When a surfacing U-boat destroys their fishing boat and severely injures his older brother, Danny, off the North Carolina coast, Colton assumes his older brother's identity and enlists in the U.S. Navy. After surviving the brutal trials of boot camp, Colton is assigned to a patrol craft, designed primarily for anti-submarine warfare. Colton's ship first patrols American coastal waters looking for U-boats preying on merchant vessels, then is assigned to escort convoys traversing the North Atlantic. Operating in intensely adverse weather conditions, Colton's ship battles "wolf packs" of several U-boats attacking convoys. In one action, the patrol craft is rammed and sunk by a U-boat. Colton's closest shipmate is killed, and the surviving crew remain at sea in a lifeboat until rescued. A leg wound lands Colton in a hospital stateside and gains him an ensuing discharge from the Navy. The narrative is full of action but short on character development. If the idea of a 12-year-old enlisting in the Navy seems blatantly implausible, there is historical precedent. In an afterword, Watkins explains that his inspiration for the novel is the real-life experience of 12-year-old Calvin Graham, who enlisted in the Navy and served in the Pacific theater. A briskly paced, action-packed, surprisingly realistic war story. (Historical fiction. 10-14)
School Library Journal
Gr 46Twelve-year-old Colton steals his brother Danny's enlistment papers and joins the Navy. (Danny was badly hurt when a German U-boat hit their fishing boat and is in a coma.) Colton, surprisingly, survives boot camp and is soon on a ship in the Navy. Through his time at sea, Colton promises to take care of his family and fight the Germans that hurt his brother. Although the premise seems unbelievable, it is based on a true story of the youngest U.S. soldier to fight in Word War II. Colton is a strong character who allows younger readers to get a glimpse into combat life during the Second World War. The book is full of action, adventure, and history. Watkins explains enough aspects of the Navy to engage readers, but keeps it brief so as not to take attention away from the main plot. VERDICT As little context is explored, this novel will be best appreciated by readers with a basic knowledge of World War II history.Maeve Dodds, Charlotte Mecklenburg Library, NC
Reviewing Agencies: - Find Other Reviewed Titles
ALA Booklist (9/1/17)
Bulletin of the Center for Children's Books
Kirkus Reviews
School Library Journal (9/1/17)
Word Count: 50,983
Reading Level: 6.0
Interest Level: 3-6
Accelerated Reader: reading level: 6.0 / points: 8.0 / quiz: 191758 / grade: Middle Grades
Reading Counts!: reading level:8.3 / points:12.0 / quiz:Q72262
Lexile: 1040L

It's been a month since the bombing of Pearl Harbor. America is officially at war with Germany and Japan, and everyone wants to do their part. In twelve-year-old Colton's case, that means stepping up at home once his older brother, Danny, ships out with the navy. But before Danny leaves for boot camp, the brothers are fishing on the Atlantic Ocean when Danny's boat is capsized by a Nazi U-boat, nearly killing him.

When more U-boats start attacking the next day, Colton realizes just how close the enemy is to American shores. With Danny's life in the balance, Colton does the only thing he can think of to help his family and his country: He steals his brother's enlisting papers and joins up instead.

Colton's bold decision leads to a deadly journey. Even if he can keep his age a secret and survive boot camp, he'll have to face Hitler's ruthless submarines. But the longer he's on the seas, the less sure Colton is that he and his shipmates can stop such a relentless enemy . . .


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