Cracker is one of the United States Army's most valuable weapons: a German Shepherd trained to sniff out bombs, traps, and the enemy. The fate of entire platoons rests on her keen sense of smell. She's a Big Deal, and she likes it that way. Sometimes Cracker remembers when she was younger, and her previous owner would feed her hot dogs and let her sleep in his bed. That was nice too.
-from the book jacket
I knew what I was getting myself into just by looking at the cover. A dog (German Shepherd) in the Vietnam War.... Let's just say I had a feeling I would be crying before the book was over. And of course, I did cry. But it wasn't all sad.
We have had several German Shepherds as part of our family and they are amazing dogs, protective and very smart and sweet too. I love reading books from the dog's point of view. And this book does that well. The dog sees what happens in a different way than a person would and her thoughts about what happens are quite poignant and sometimes humorous.
One of the sad things about this book was how during the Vietnam War, these dogs (who are credited with saving approximately 10,000 human lives) were considered military equipment. At the end of the war, the majority of the dogs who survived were either euthanized or given to the South Vietnamese army (their fate remains unknown). The good thing is that after the Vietnam War, military policy changed and war dogs were allowed to come home. Today the policy is known as No Military Working Dog Left Behind.
Reading this book was part of my Historical Fiction genre of the month project. I do believe this book is not made for elementary school students and I am suggesting we move it to the Middle School library. There isn't much descriptive violence or bloodshed, especially considering this is a war based book. But, I just think it will appeal more to older readers.
Students in grades 6 and up who like historical fiction or stories about wars. It is important that they know that the story can be quite sad at times.
I listened to this as an unabridged audiobook, narrated by Kimberly Farr, and was particularly impressed that it told, not only the story of the internment of the Japanese, but also the effect this had on the indigenous Indian population, whose land they were encamped on.
We first meet Sumiko, in the days before WWII, living in California. She is the only Japanese girl in her class, but it has never been much of a problem; she has her family and her part in the running of the family's flower farm, life is good.
As WWII looms and the Japanese become the enemy, she finds that although she was born and raised in America, she is viewed with suspicion and distrust, and eventually has to move to an internment camp deep in the dusty desert of Arizona, along with the women of her family. The adult men are incarcerated elsewhere.
They soon discover that the land is already occupied, by the Mohave Indians, who are not at all happy to be sharing.
Sumiko is a wonderfully positive character, who makes the best of everything, even dust storms and heat. She befriends an elderly man and helps create a garden in the wilderness and she meets a young Mohave boy, learning why his people are resentful of their arrival.
This was a well balanced and highly readable young adult novel that easily crossed over into adult reading. I may well listen to the audiobook again in the future.
One of the better Newberry Award books I've read so far this year. I'm honestly getting a bit bored by them. They're all very similar and seem to have the same agenda, which is a bit annoying. But, I'm still going to try and read them all by January - listening to them makes them a little more enjoyable.
Katie and her sister Lynn move from their Japanese community to southern Georgia. It's Lynn who is always Katie's best friend, it's Lynn who tells Katie why the other white people in her first grade class won't talk to her. It's Lynn that first grows up and gets a new best friend and gets crushes on boys. Lynn was the one that told her "Kira-Kira" making the world all glittery and nice. But then Lynn gets sick and everything changes.
I really loved the beginning of this books. A simple touching story about sisters loving one another so much. With that bit of history and how hard it was to live in the south and be of color.
But then it turned a bit depressing. And pretty much took a turn I didn't want it to go. I suppose I'd recommend this to a family looking for a book dealing with grieving or the time point in history.