________________ CM . . . . Volume xxi Number 25 . . . . March 6, 2015


Pearl Harbor. (Crabtree Chrome).

Robin Johnson.
St. Catharines, ON: Crabtree, 2015.
48 pp., pbk., hc., pdf & html, $11.95 (pbk.), $21.56 (RLB.).
ISBN 978-0-7787-1403-3 (pbk.), ISBN 978-0-7787-1367-8 (RLB.), ISBN 978-1-4271-8981-3 (pdf), ISBN 978-1-4271-8975-2 (html).

Subject Headings:
Pearl Harbor (Hawaii), Attack on, 1941-Juvenile literature.
World War, 1939-1945-Causes-Juvenile literature.
Japan-Foreign relations-United States-Juvenile literature.
United States-Foreign relations-Japan-Juvenile literature.

Grades 3-5 / Ages 8-10.

Review by Thomas F. Chambers.

**** /4


AIR RAID! Suddenly, the sky above Pearl Harbor was filled with Japanese aircraft! Dive bombers dipped low over the ships docked in the harbor. They began dropping bombs on the unsuspecting crews below. The sky flashed and shouts rang out as the first bombs smashed into the ships.

NO ESCAPE! The bombs woke the sleeping sailors in a hurry! They scrambled to get dressed and get to their posts. But the men were not prepared for battle. Their ammunition was locked up. Their ships were packed closely together in plain sight. The men were trapped in the harbor with no escape.

BALL OF FLAMES At 8.10 a.m., a battleship called the USS Arizona was hit hard. A heavy bomb slammed through the ship’s deck and into the magazine. More than a million pounds of explosives had been stored there. The ship burst into a giant ball of flames.


Pearl Harbor, as the title and cover of the book indicate (it shows Japanese dive bombers attacking a US ship) is about the attack on the American naval base in Pearl Harbor, Hawaii, on December 7, 1941 and the consequences of the attack. It tells the story brilliantly with a brief text and many, very dramatic photographs. The book’s appearance is also quite appealing and is bound to grab young readers’ attention. It is easy to read, and the facts are accurate. It has seven chapters of varying lengths, the shortest four pages and the longest twelve.

     In addition to dealing with the attack, Pearl Harbor discusses Japan’s preparations for war and why it felt it necessary to go to war with the United States, a much more powerful country, in the first place. The results of the attack on American ships and sailors are well presented, including the U.S. declaration of war on Japan and the American entry into the Second World War in Europe. It is a very good introduction to war and will easily stimulate discussion. Imaginative teachers, if the curriculum allows, could have fun with it helping their classes see the brutality of war. It could be used as a springboard into a discussion of current conflicts such as the war in Syria and Iraq and Canada’s involvement.

     Pearl Harbor has a number of valuable teaching aids. There is a “Glossary” and a section called “Learning More” which includes books and websites. The words in the Glossary are also included in the pages in the text where they are used. This approach saves the reader from having to refer to the Glossary for an unknown term, and the Glossary serves as a handy reference for later use. Two maps are included. One shows the Pacific Ocean and the distance between Japan and Pearl Harbor. The second is a map of Pearl Harbor showing the location of the US fleet when the Japanese attacked and the extent of the damage. Every second page has a sidebar with information relevant to the story. One, for example, explains why Japan in called the Land of the Rising Sun.

     As mentioned, there are a great many illustrations. There are a few black and white photographs but most illustrations are in colour. They leave nothing to the imagination, are spread throughout and dominate the book because there is very little text. The illustrations are also functional. They convey the feeling of surprise and shock which those at Pearl Harbor on this eventful day must have felt.

     The author, Robin Johnson, has written many books for young readers, including Katy Perry and Pompeii. Her writing style is perfect for young children.

Highly Recommended.

Thomas F. Chambers, an author and retired college teacher, lives in North Bay, ON.

To comment on this title or this review, send mail to cm@umanitoba.ca.

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