Southwest Children's Literature

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The Unbreakable Code

Book Review:

This book is a good resource for young students that are learning about World War II, Native Americans (Navajos), and language. It is a good tool to use in the classroom to integrate positive and current impressions of Native Americans. It eliminates stereotyping and broadens studentsí view on history. The book is well-written and the illustrations are done in oil paints and are done beautifully.

John has never set foot off the Navajo Reservation nor had he ventured farther than the four sacred mountains. Now, his mother has married and wants to move to Minnesota. He refuses to go until his grandfather, who is a Navajo Code Talker, explains to him that John will succeed anywhere he goes because he has an unbreakable code, the Navajo language. Grandfather tells John that when he was sixteen years old he enlisted in the Marine Corps. Japan intercepted and decoded the majority of American radio messages and the government believed that the Navajo language would be the secret weapon to remedy this problem and help win the war. John listened intently. His grandfather explained how the Navajo codes worked (i.e. the Navajo word for "eggs" was a code name for bomb) and since it was so successful, more Navajos were recruited, trained and became radio broadcasters. Finally, John understood what his grandfather meant by the "unbreakable code" and he believed that his language was a part of him that none could take away. Even when he left the reservation, he would always be linked to it by heart.

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