Chester Nez and the Unbreakable Code: A Navajo Code Talker’s Story by Joseph Bruchac

Chester Nez and the Unbreakable CodeChester Nez and the Unbreakable Code: A Navajo Code Talker’s Story by Joseph Bruchac; illustrated by Liz Amini-Holmes. 2018.

Brief summary: In 1929, a missionary truck took an eight-year-old Navajo boy from his family to go to a Catholic boarding school.  It wasn’t optional. He was stripped of his Navajo name and given his new English name of Chester by a missionary nun. His hair was cut and he was not allowed to speak his native tongue; only English. He was forced to become Catholic and told that his heritage was to be forgotten. During tenth grade, Chester joined the Marines in 1941 after the Pearl Harbor bombing. Platoon 382 consisted of 29 Navajos. These men created the famous Navajo code that the enemies could not decipher. Ironically, the language they were forbidden to speak saved the English speaking one.

Comments: The back consists of an Author’s note, The Navajo Code, and a timeline.  I’m glad to see more of these books being published lately on the subject of mandatory boarding school for Native American children and other atrocities that the Canadian and US government forced upon these indigenous people.

Joseph Bruchac (of the Abenaki Tribe) is one of my favorite Native American writers. Thanks to him, many of the Native American stories told through oral tradition are being put into print. Students love his monster lore.







Thunder Boy Jr. by Sherman Alexie

If You Ever Want to Bring a Piano to the Beach, DON'T! by Elise Parsely

Thunder Boy Jr. by Sherman Alexie; illustrated by Yuyi Morales. 2016. Digitally printed.

Brief summary: Thunder Boy Jr. did not want to be called Little Thunder, since his father was called Big Thunder. He wanted his own name. After examining all the possibilities, his father surprises him by saying it is time to give his son a name of his own.

Comments: Great father and son relationship.