Hunt for the Bamboo Rat

Hunt for the Bamboo Rat

5.0 1
by Graham Salisbury
     
 

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“A gripping saga of wartime survival.” —Kirkus Reviews, Starred
 
Based on a true story, this World War II novel by Scott O’Dell Award winner Graham Salisbury tells how Zenji, 17, is sent from Hawaii to the Philippines to spy on the Japanese.


Zenji Watanabe was born in Hawaii. He’s an

Overview

“A gripping saga of wartime survival.” —Kirkus Reviews, Starred
 
Based on a true story, this World War II novel by Scott O’Dell Award winner Graham Salisbury tells how Zenji, 17, is sent from Hawaii to the Philippines to spy on the Japanese.


Zenji Watanabe was born in Hawaii. He’s an American, but the Japanese wouldn’t know it by the look of him. And that’s exactly what the US government is counting on.
 
Because he speaks both English and Japanese perfectly, the army recruits Zenji for a top-secret mission to spy on the Japanese. If they discover his true identity, he’ll be treated as a traitor and executed on the spot.
 
As World War II boils over in the Pacific, Zenji is caught behind enemy lines. But even though his Japanese heritage is his death warrant, it’s also his key to outwitting the enemy and finding the strength to face the terrors of battle, the savagery of the jungle, and the unspeakable cruelty of war.
 
The riveting Hunt for the Bamboo Rat is based on a true story and follows in the path of author Graham Salisbury’s other highly acclaimed Prisoners of the Empire titles, which began with the award-winning Under the Blood-Red Sun. 

"Salisbury has once again crafted a fine novel, based on an actual person, about first-generation Americans of Japanese descent and the clash of culture and national identity that World War II accentuated. . . .  The story will leave readers spellbound." —Kirkus Reviews, Starred

"Fast-paced and compelling, this title will be enjoyed by voracious and reluctant readers." —SLJ

"The history is fascinating, and Zenji is a fictional hero readers will long remember." —The Horn Book


From the Hardcover edition.

Editorial Reviews

School Library Journal
09/01/2014
Gr 5 Up—Zenji Watanabe is Nisei, an American with Japanese parents, living in Honolulu on the eve of World War II. As tensions are rising between his parents' homeland and his own, his old ROTC commander offers him secret work away from his home that will utilize his particular language skills. This title is a welcome new angle in historical fiction on the Japanese-American experience during the war, and it is based on a true story. Geared toward middle grade readers, Salisbury is careful not to linger on the more unpleasant and violent aspects of Zenji's time as a POW. Fast-paced and compelling, this title will be enjoyed by voracious and reluctant readers.—L. Lee Butler, Stoughton High School, MA
From the Publisher
Kirkus Reviews starred review, September 2014:
“Written in short, rapid-fire paragraphs that move the plot along at a brisk pace, the story will leave readers spellbound. A gripping saga of wartime survival.”

"...the history is fascinating, and Zenji is a fictional hero readers will long remember." - Horn Book Review

From the Hardcover edition.

Children's Literature - Elizabeth H. Swartz
Realistic war stories from the Philippines and Corregidor aimed at the middle grade reader are hard to find. But this new addition to the “Prisoners of the Empire” series fits the bill perfectly. Direct, short paragraphs and lots of action move the story along at a fast pace. Details relating to the true story, on which this is based, have been carefully researched and lend authenticity to the experience. Maps at the beginning, a glossary, and a list of resources add a deeper dimension. Seventeen-year-old Zenji, an American boy of Japanese descent, is an excellent student. Because of his ability to speak, read, and write both languages, he is a valuable interpreter for the U.S. Army. However, because of his Japanese appearance, many people think he is on the side of the Japanese army. The culture clash between his Japanese mother and his army officer speaks volumes. Zenji is captured on Corregidor and isolated as a prisoner of war where he is beaten and mistreated. He escapes only to become terribly lost in the jungle. The dangers, punishments, and losses of each army are fully expressed. But it is not a story of sorrow; it is one of perseverance. Educators can use this story to fulfill literacy standards, as well as those requirements for geography and American history in World War II. It is an exciting read for anyone wondering what is really involved in fighting a war. Graham Salisbury has won many awards, and it is expected that this book will win him more. Reviewer: Elizabeth H. Swartz; Ages 12 up.
Kirkus Reviews
★ 2014-08-06
A novel that begins before Pearl Harbor sends a Japanese-American teen on a top-secret mission to the Philippines. Born in Hawaii of Japanese parents, 17-year-old Zenji Watanabe is fluent in English and Japanese. In August 1941, his high school ROTC commander recruits him for the U.S. Army Corps of Intelligence Police, and he is sent to Manila to mingle with Japanese businessmen and collect information. When the Japanese army invades, Zenji is taken prisoner. Steadfastly maintaining his cover as a civilian, he refuses to admit that he is the Bamboo Rat, his cover name, and is tortured by the Japanese secret police. He eventually finds himself working for a Japanese colonel as a translator and houseboy and is able to use the position to help the Filipino underground. When the U.S. forces return, he escapes into the jungle, surviving despite a wound and starvation so extreme that he eats raw rat. His strength derives from his love of family and country coupled with his belief in honor, courage and forgiveness. Salisbury has once again crafted a fine novel, based on an actual person, about first-generation Americans of Japanese descent and the clash of culture and national identity that World War II accentuated. Written in short, rapid-fire paragraphs that move the plot along at a brisk pace, the story will leave readers spellbound. A gripping saga of wartime survival. (maps, author's note, glossary, resources) (Historical fiction. 13-18)

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780307979704
Publisher:
Random House Children's Books
Publication date:
09/09/2014
Series:
Prisoners of the Empire Series
Sold by:
Random House
Format:
NOOK Book
Pages:
336
Sales rank:
264,077
Lexile:
HL510L (what's this?)
File size:
5 MB
Age Range:
12 - 17 Years

Meet the Author

Graham Salisbury’s family has lived in the Hawaiian Islands since the early 1800s. He grew up on Oahu and Hawaii and graduated from California State University. He received an MFA from Vermont College of Norwich University, where he was a member of the founding faculty of the MFA program in writing for children. He lives with his family in Portland, Oregon.
   Graham Salisbury’s books have won many prizes. Blue Skin of the Sea won the Bank Street Child Study Association Children’s Book Award; Under the Blood-Red Sun won the Scott O’Dell Award for Historical Fiction, the Oregon Book Award, Hawaii’s Nene Award, and the California Young Reader Medal; Shark Bait won the Oregon Book Award and a Parents’ Choice Silver Honor; Lord of the Deep won the Boston Globe–Horn Book Award. He has also written the Calvin Coconut series for younger readers. 
   Graham Salisbury is a recipient of the John Unterecker Award for Fiction and the PEN/Norma Klein Award. Visit him online at grahamsalisbury.com.

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Hunt for the Bamboo Rat 5 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 1 reviews.
Sandy5 More than 1 year ago
He is the Bamboo Rat, he has no basic training; no training whatsoever, for Zenji is the perfect spy. He plays his part to a T, for when things get out of control he knows nothing, he has no rank in the military, he is not a soldier, he is a civilian hired by the military to translate Japanese. Being Japanese-American, Zenji can speak both Japanese and American so this is a perfect opportunity for him to help his family before starting college in the fall. It’s 1941 and being transported to the Philippines, Zenji’s life living amongst the military was easy in the beginning as war was just talk. It was entertaining to hear the stories that he heard at the Momo Hotel passing himself as a warehouse worker during the day, spending his spare time talking with the Japanese businessmen in the lobby. Not a political person himself, Zenji world now becomes broader as the men talk about issues he is not aware of. I love how his world expands as his knowledge of the world opens up and he makes acquaintances. His personality is a perfect fit for the job. As fear of war hangs in the air, people are leaving the island and Zenji has a seat but he gives that up. I cringed when I read this as I knew it would mean disaster but I knew from reading that this is the kind of person Zenji was. I don’t think I walked away from the book after this point. Days, weeks and months pass by, it seems like forever since he gave up that seat but I am only the person reading the details of his life after he made that decision and not the one living out the long days that he’s now living. It’s more than I expected, and when I read that it’s based on a true story, I was surprised. The Bamboo Rat, he was more than a spy, much more. I can’t wait to read more of the Prisoner’s of the Empire books.