The Navajo code talkers

J. Patrick Lewis

Book - 2016

"Amidst a complicated history of mistreatment by and distrust of the American government, the Navajo people--especially bilingual code talkers--helped the Allies win World War II"--

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Location Call Number   Status
Children's Room j940.5486/Lewis Checked In
Mankato, MN : Creative Editions 2016.
First edition
Physical Description
32 pages : color illustrations ; 32 cm
Includes bibliographical references.
Main Author
J. Patrick Lewis (author)
Other Authors
Gary Kelley, 1945- (illustrator)
Review by Booklist Review

The third slender, large-format volume in Lewis and Kelley's World War cycle, which includes And the Soldiers Sang (2011) and Harlem Hellfighters (2014), this book features the Navajo code talkers. First, it fills in some background information about the Navajo and their history, particularly the brutal, tragic Long Walk, when the U.S. government forced them to leave their tribal land during the 1860s. Eighty years later, Navajo soldiers made significant contributions to the nation as code talkers, using their unwritten language as the basis of coded messages that helped bring about the end of WWII. The text condenses a great deal of information and presents it with well-chosen details. On every page, readers will find themselves riveted by Kelley's powerful artwork. Created with pastels, these impressive images include strong portrayals of individuals, moving depictions of the Long Walk, and iconic images of Navajo words used in the talking code to represent concepts (battleship, tank) outside their traditional language. A handsome, visually dynamic book.--Phelan, Carolyn Copyright 2016 Booklist

From Booklist, Copyright (c) American Library Association. Used with permission. Review by Publisher's Weekly Review

Lewis and Kelley offer a third entry in their World War series, following And the Soldiers Sang and Harlem Hellfighters, this time focusing on the Navajo soldiers who served as code talkers in WWII. Initial pages recount the tribe's troubled history with the U.S. government, and a procession of defeated Navajo men, women, and children wends across the bottom of consecutive spreads to show the tribe's forced march to a reservation. Kelley's pastels, housed within individual panels for a graphic novel-like effect, use drab hues and dark, angular outlines to evoke a somber mood. The artwork also depicts realistic images of war: battle scenes include sword combat and a skull peering out from under an army helmet. Amid the fighting, code talkers use their native language to send and receive top-secret communications ("Apart from its beauty, the Navajo tongue is unique, enormously difficult, and unwritten.... the ultimate unbreakable wartime code"). It's a fine introduction to the ways that indigenous peoples aided the war effort, which doesn't sugarcoat the injustices they suffered, including the "depravity" of the Long Walk that removed the Navajo from their home. Ages 7-9. (Aug.) © Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.

Review by Horn Book Review

Lewis and Kelley (And the Soldiers Sang; Harlem Hellfighters) respectfully relate the story of roughly 420 Navajo code talkers who helped the U.S. win World War II by using their native language for secret military communications. Lewis emphasizes the extraordinary nature of their achievement after a century of unjust treatment by the government. Kelley's illustrations evoke classic (and violent) wartime images and Native American iconography. Bib. (c) Copyright 2017. The Horn Book, Inc., a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

(c) Copyright The Horn Book, Inc., a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted. Review by Kirkus Book Review

Persecuted by the U.S. government, many Navajo children were forced to give up their language in boarding schools established in the 19th century and designed to eradicate Native American culture.Ironically this language would be used during World War II as a secret code by American military forces in the Pacific. Although other Native Americans became Code Talkers, the Navajo were the largest in number (about 420). Their unusual achievement was kept a secret until 1968, when new technologies superseded Navajo code-talking and the heroic story of the People could be told. This powerfully illustrated large-format informational picture book provides the outline of both that story and the code itself, which used Navajo words to represent Roman letters, employing them as substitutes for English words, such as chay-da-gahi (tortoise) to mean tank. Illustrated samples are given in the text, but it still may not be enough for all readers to fully understand how the code worked. The somber pastel drawings are striking, and the ironic situationa language once vilified that becomes an almost magical weaponis made evident, but it is too bad readers arent given glimpses of the men who participated in this endeavor. The only people named are Philip Johnston, an Anglo missionarys son who had grown up with the Navajo and who suggested the idea, and Marine Maj. Howard Connor, a white officer. Once again, the individual Native Americans are lost in history. (endnotes, artists notes, selected bibliography) (Informational picture book. 9-12) Copyright Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.

Copyright (c) Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.