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Near the end of World War II, scientists in Los Alamos, New Mexico, are working on a project that will alter the fate of the world. Thirteen-year-old Stephen Orr is living at a top secret military base with his father who is a leading physicist building the atomic bomb. Stephen realizes the dangers involved when one of the scientists becomes hospitalized as a result of working with the project. The scientist alerts him to disasters that could come from The Gadget. Stephen feels it is up to him and his friend ...
Near the end of World War II, scientists in Los Alamos, New Mexico, are working on a project that will alter the fate of the world. Thirteen-year-old Stephen Orr is living at a top secret military base with his father who is a leading physicist building the atomic bomb. Stephen realizes the dangers involved when one of the scientists becomes hospitalized as a result of working with the project. The scientist alerts him to disasters that could come from The Gadget. Stephen feels it is up to him and his friend Tilanov to find the answers that lie behind this veil of secrecy.
In 1945, having joined his father at Los Alamos, where he and other scientists are working on a secret project to end World War II, thirteen-year-old Stephen becomes caught in a web of secrecy and intrigue.
Stephen waited until his mother and aunt were out in the kitchen making coffee before he slipped away from the family dinner table. He grabbed the binoculars from the sideboard. His cousin Jackson got the crystal radio set out of the hall closet, and the two boys headed for the door.
"Snoopy bruthas!" Jackson's four-year-old sister, Molly, yelled out, pointing at them. "Snoopy bruthas!"
Everyone knew she was trying to say Stephen and Jackson were nosey--and looked like brothers--and it was true. Both were gangly with thick, brown hair and squared, sturdy chins.
Stephen certainly had been an inquisitive kid ever since he could crawl. One Christmas he was taken to Macy's department store and he asked the Santa Claus if he used 5 Day deodorant pads. Another time he had a one-eyed baby sitter and used to pretend to fall asleep so he could watch her take out tier glass eye and put it in a case for the night. And Jackson had never been a slouch in the curiosity department either. He'd never left a door closed nor anyone's package unopened.
The boys were halfway out the door when Stephen's mother came back and spotted them.
"Be careful,"' she said. "If you hear the air-raid sirens, you both get back down here straight away."
"Right, Mom," Stephen said.
Molly laughed and ran to her phonograph. She started winding it up so she could sway and sing to "G.I. Jive" until she drove everyone crazy.
Jackson led the way up the stairs of the apartment house two at a time. They heard the sounds of other families behind the closed doors: the clinking of dishesbeing washed and stacked; Mr. Erikson playing scales on his piano; near the sixth floor the smell of shepherd's pie and baking apples. The Rohr twins were getting tangled tip ni a leash as they came down the stairs with their new spaniel puppy.
Above the top floor Jackson pushed open the heavy metal door to the roof. He and Stephen scooted to their favorite niche in the shadow of a squat, rusting water tank. Every night since Stephen and his mother had arrived in London, Jackson and lie had made it a ritual to sit beneath the stars or watch the fog creep in from the Thames.
"I Arish it was summer and we were horseback riding or catching salamanders again," Stephen said.
"Me too. Kirkby River was the best," Jackson said. "The turtles. And the rope swing."
"Remember the leeches? The ones on your back and your horse's legs!"
"You're going to make me throw up," Jackson said.
The boys laughed as they set tip their home made crystal radio--a small coil with magnets and wires mounted in the bottom of a shoe box. Stephen dragged the end of a sharpened wire over the surface of the quartz. There was static, then the faint voice of a woman singing.
"Let's see if we can get Portugal again," Stephen said, moving the wire toward the center of the crystal.
The radio voices faded in and out.
I think I hear German," Jackson said. "That's what it sounds like."
Stephen strained to hear. He was still trying to make out the voice when there came another sound he did recognize. But it wasn't coming from the radio. He felt his stomach tighten.
"Airplanes," he said looking to the night sky. "Where are they?"
Jackson got to his feet. "I don't know," he said.
Warning sirens began to shriek.
"We'd better go back down," Stephen said. "They're going to want to get us to the shelter."
Jackson pointed toward the horizon. "Look, here they come." He grabbed the binoculars and looked through them. "It could be our planes. R.A.F. coming back from a raid."
There was a distant flash of fight and the high are of antiaircraft fire. "No. It's Luftwaffe. German planes. They're bombing," Jackson shouted. "Come on." He turned and ran back across the soft tar of the roof and its grid of drainpipes. Stephen followed on his cousin's heels to the roof door. Jackson began banging on the thick sheet of steel.
"What's the matter?" Stephen said.
"It's locked. We forgot to prop it open."
"Let me try."
Stephen was twelve, a year and a half older than Jackson. He was stronger, and he put his shoulder next to Jackson's. Together they grunted, strained to force open the door. It wouldn't budge. Jackson grabbed a piece of jagged loose pipe and tried to wedge it like a crowbar between the door and its frame. The racket of planes and bombing was nearer.
A single bomb exploded. The sky around them began to glow-splashes of yellow and purple mixed with thick curls of black smoke and the shouts of frightened people on the street. The boys frantically kicked the door, trying to jolt it off its hinges.
Another bomb. Nearer.
There was sudden fear in Jackson's eyes. He looked dazed now. Confused. Stephen pulled him down to huddle between an air duct and the low, tiled roof wall. We'll be safe here, Stephen thought. The bombing will stop and there'll be the all-clear siren and...
Now the bombs fell in clusters, so near they could hear them whistling down before the roof-shuddering blasts. Then there was another high-pitched noise, the mounting scream of a falling rocket bomb. Jackson jumped up, terrified. He had seen what a V-2 could do.
Stephen grabbed his arm.
"Jackson! Stay down."
His cousin clapped his hands over his ears, shook free of Stephen's hand, and ran from the shriek.
"No!" Stephen yelled. "Come back."
The noise was deafening. The rocket bomb hit on the left, and the entire building shook violently...The Gadget. Copyright © by Paul Zindel. Reprinted by permission of HarperCollins Publishers, Inc. All rights reserved. Available now wherever books are sold.
Social studies classes study the world’s wars and the impact war has on a global society. Students learn about ancient wars and the more modern wars that have been fought in the name of freedom. They know about the American Revolution, the Civil War, and World Wars I and II. Some students know about the Korean War, the Vietnam Conflict, and the Persian Gulf War. Before the events of September 11, 2001, students in America’s schools knew little about the personal tragedies related to war. War was simply something that happened in books, in another time, and on foreign lands. Now, war surrounds them–on television, radio, and in film. Some know firsthand what it feels like to lose a parent to terrorists, and others wait eagerly in front of the television in hopes of gaining a glimpse of a family member or friend who may be in the Iraqi desert or on the streets of Baghdad. Like the main characters in the novels in this guide, the innocence of America’s children has been marked by violence. A new page of history is being written every day, and it is being done before the eyes of the world’s youngest citizens.
For this reason, it is extremely important that parents and teachers talk with children about war, and offer hope that the world might someday find a peaceful solution to global conflict. Sometimes it is difficult to find the words to explain the complex issues of war, but books are always a good way to spark understanding and conversation. This guide offers discussion for the following books: The Gadget by Paul Zindel; Girl of Kosovo by Alice Mead; Lord of the Nutcracker Men by Iain Lawrence; Flags of our Fathers by James Bradley with Ron Powers, adapted for young people by Michael French; Forgotten Fire by Adam Bagdasarian; and For Freedom by Kimberly Brubaker Bradley.
Engage students in a discussion about the recent war in Iraq, and how it was reported in the news. Divide the class into three groups, and assign each group one of the major newspapers or magazines to read. Ask that they read a few issues of the publications during the time of the war and take note of the major headlines, the views of the journalists, etc. Allow students time at the end of each week to share their findings. What conclusions can be drawn about the role of journalists in war?
1. Stephen is told that he is to trust no one. Discuss how difficult it is to live without trust. What makes Stephen think that he can trust Alexei Nagavatsky? Why does Sewa, Dr. Orr’s housekeeper, warn Stephen about Alexei? How does Stephen betray his father’s trust? What lessons does Stephen learn about trust, betrayal, and truth?
2. Trace Stephen’s fits of anger throughout the novel. How does life on the Los Alamos base contribute to his anger? Describe Stephen’s anger when he finds out about The Gadget. How does Dr. Orr’s explanation of the project outrage Stephen?
3. Dr. Orr tells Stephen, “We were all told we could help the war end.” (p. 149) Discuss whether the government was deceptive with the scientists. How does Dr. Orr avoid being angry with the government?
4. Ask readers to discuss why Stephen is so obsessed with finding out the secret mission at Los Alamos. Why does Sewa feel that Alexei has secrets? What is Stephen’s reaction when he discovers his dad’s secret project? How does Dr. Orr deal with the knowledge that Stephen knows the secret?
5. Discuss why Los Alamos is called “a town that doesn’t exist.” (p. 16) What measures does the government take to make Los Alamos safe and secure for the scientists and their families? How does the government’s security system fail?
6. Compare and contrast the security measures at Los Alamos during World War II to the homeland security issues in the United States today.
For more activities on Images of War, see these titles: For Freedom by Kimberly Brubaker Bradley, Lord of the Nutcracker by Iain Lawrence, Girl of Kosovo by Alice Mead, Flags of Our Fathers by James Bradley with Ron Powers adapted for young people by Michael French, The Gadget by Paul Zindel, and Forgotten Fire by Adam Bagdasarian.
Prepared by Pat Scales, Director of Library Services, the South Carolina Governor’s School for the Arts and Humanities, Greenville, SC.
Posted June 10, 2013
A fast, easy read. Poor Stephen didn't know who the bad guys were, when it was freaking obvious halfway in. I would recommend this book to kids interested in history.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted October 29, 2008
The story takes place in the beginning of World War II. A young thirteen old boy followed his father to Los Ammos, New Mexico. His name is Steven and his dad is in the army. His father tries to help the Americans in World War II. Steven meets some friends in New Mexico. This book is historical fiction, but it has amazing action parts.<BR/>This book reminds me of the movie Pearl Harbor, which also takes place in World War II. So, if you like this summary about The Gadget, then you should read this book. This book is written by Paul Zindel. Paul Zindel was born May 15th 1936, in New York City Staten Island. <BR/> I recommend this book fifth grade and up, also for young adults.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted April 5, 2008
Overall while I was reading the gadget, the plot was good but not great. I got confused a little bit because I didn't know one of the characters name. They said it was Alexei but it was really Tilanov. The plot was good and i could understand what was going to happen next. I thought that the story could have been a little longer. While I was reading the story, I read it in like 2 hours. Other than that the plot could also use more details. That is what I thought could have been better. I would recommend this book to a teenager because the book is kind of hard to understand. I would also recommend this book to people who like mystery books. Also this book had to do with world war 2. So people who like world war 2 books would most likely kie this one. that is whom I would recommend this book to.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted January 9, 2006
On page thirty eight Stephen meets up with Alexei but on the back cover of the book it says that Alexeis name is Tilanov. I got confused and couldnt understand which was the kids name?Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted January 3, 2006
The book I¿m reviewing is the gadget. The author of this book is Paul Zindel. It is about war. The kid named Stephen has a dad in the army. He invents a bomb or a gadget to stop Hitler. This book deserves five starts. There are action parts like bombing. Stephen is put in a camp with his mom for safety. His friend is Alexei. They go to his farm a few times. People are after Stephen because his dad is important. I would recommend this book to my friend because it is very action packed.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted January 30, 2005
Paul Zindel's 'The Gadget' is a good book that tells about a young boy named Stephen who is on an adventure to find out what the so called 'Gadget' is. Stephen is a boy who grew up in London,England with his mother, grandparents, and his best friend and cousin Jackson. He lived there during the German air rades(when they dropped bombs on London), and when that occurred people had to get to the basements of their houses and try to stay as far away as possible from the bombs or they could have gotten extremely hurt. On one day this had occured Stephen and his family had gotten unlucky because they had loss Jackson in one of the air raids because Stephen and Jackson had not got back early enough to withstand the bombs. So life went on and Stephen's mom decided to let Stephen live with his father. His father was a scientist who was working on 'The Gadget' on a private base called Los Alamos. There were some of the best scientists working on that project in Los Alamos and his father was one of them. When he gets there he meets a new friend named Alexei whose father works on the base also. While he is there one of the scientists gets really hurt and he goes and visits him in the doctor and tries to find out as much as he can about 'the gadget'. He goes through a couple of changes while on his journey to find out what 'the gadget' is. I would recommend this book to any one who is into a lot of adventure and mystery.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted February 7, 2005
I think this is a good book, but not the best. It could have used a little more twist and turns but overall it is decent. The Gadget has its good parts in the story. How the author tells you everything about everone, and how he puts things into great perspective and detail.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted January 13, 2005
The book the Gadget is about a boy named Stephen who moves from London to live with his father a military scientist on a top-sercet military base called Los Alamos.His father is there working on a weapon that will end the war with Hilter the weapons code name is the 'The Gadget'.After living on the base for a week Stephen finds a boy named Alexei.His father is there working on the The Gadget too.During the build of the Gadget one of the scintists get sprayed with a lethal dose of radioactivity.Stephen and Alexei find the scientist in the hospital.They ask him what he knows about The Gadget.After hearing what the scientist has to say the two boys are determined to find out everything they can about The GadgetWas this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted December 12, 2003
Posted May 29, 2003
Posted May 29, 2003
Posted May 29, 2003
This was a story of a boy living in London who moved to America to live with his dad. His dad is a scientist working on an extremely dangerous gadget. The boy tries to solve the mysteries of the gadget. This is an extremely suspenseful story and I really liked it.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted April 19, 2003
Posted December 5, 2001
The Gadget is a very supenseful book. It starts right at the begining. It is about a boy that lives in England and then moves to New Mexico with his father, where he (his Father) is a agent working on 'The Gadget'. They book is very intresting start to finish. I would reccomend it to anyone who likes an intresting book.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted October 26, 2001
This is one of the great books i have read, it isnt as good as Loch, Doom Stone Raptor , or Reef of Death but it still is better than most other books from other authors.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted December 8, 2009
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Posted December 8, 2009
No text was provided for this review.