Gr 4-8-This is the story of an encounter between two men fighting along the Kokoda Track in Papua New Guinea during World War II. Jack, an Australian soldier, leaves his pregnant wife to tramp 96 kilometers north through the jungle to stop the advancing Japanese army. Hoshi leaves his wife and young daughter in Japan to travel south along the same trail to attack the Australian army. Both men hate war but fight valiantly with their comrades for their countries. The narrative is peppered with the agonies of jungle fighting: leeches, thorns, oozing tropical ulcers, insects, and "mud that sucked the boots from their feet." Both soldiers spend a long night together, suffering wounds from which only one will recover. When the men are found, the family pictures they shared are discovered stuck together in the mud. Endpapers evoke a small Australian town and a Japanese village in the '40s. Throughout the book, sepia-toned family snapshots are superimposed on the large framed paintings depicting the jungle. These are not blaring action-filled illustrations-they are beautifully executed in muted colors apart from the red of the two soldiers' wounds. The real horror here is the face-to-face combat during which those involved can see the human side of their "enemy." A powerful reflection for older children on the true cost of war.-Marianne Saccardi, Norwalk Community College, CT Copyright 2005 Reed Business Information.