Through the Looking Glass Children's Book Reviews

Attack on Pearl Harbor: The True Story of the Day America Entered World War Two

Attack on Pearl Harbor: The True Story of the Day America Entered World War Two

Shelley Tanaka
Illustrator:  David Craig 
For ages 8 and up
Hyperion, 2001   ISBN: 978-0786807369

It was Saturday December 6th, 1941 and Peter Nottage was excited and happy to be going away forthe weekend. He and his family were going to visit some friends on the other side of Oahu Island and he could forget about school work and wearing shoes and enjoy surfing, swimming, canoeing, and watching the seaplanes from Kaneohe Naval Air Station doing their training exercises.

At the same time Commander Mitsuo Fushida was worriedly thinking about the audacious plan the Japanese have come up with to attack Pearl Harbor. Chances of success for the air attack were only fifty percent and he couldn?t help feeling concerned for the welfare of the pilots he would be leading into battle.

Somewhere off the coast of Oahu Ensign Kazuo Sakamaki lay on his bunk awaiting the operation he had been training for all his life it seemed. At last he was going to be able to prove himself. His mission was to take a midget submarine into Pearl Harbor and to attack the battleships that were moored there. He knew that it was unlikely that he would return from his mission alive.

George DeLong, a seaman on the USS Oklahoma, was returning from a night on leave and feeling full of the joys of living. He loved being in the navy and didn't even mind being attached to an old battleship like the Okie.

The next morning Commander Mitsuo Fushida took off from the deck of the aircraft carrier Akagi. He soon had dozens of planes following him, all of which had taken off from Akagi and the other five carriers in the group.

Ensign Kazuo Sakamaki had a much harder time of it because his submarine began to malfunction just outside Pearl Harbor. Despite all the difficulties he was having with his craft he aimed his limping submarine for the destroyers that were guarding the entrance to the harbor.

What follows is the terrible but at the same time fascinating story of the attack on Pearl Harbor and what occurred in the hours that followed it. We read about how the Japanese made their attacks and how much damage they inflicted on Battleship Row and the other targets. We follow the events from the point of view of each of the four characters; Peter Nottage, George DeLong on the Oklahoma, Commander Mitsuo Fushida, and Ensign Kazuo Sakamaki.

The book ends with an epilogue which tells us what happened to each of the four characters whom we read about in the book, and with a description of the memorial that was created at Pearl Harbor to remember what occurred on December 7th, 1941 and all who died on that most unforgettable of days.

Throughout this carefully researched and wonderfully written book there are paintings which show the events that took place on the days before, during, and after December 7th, 1941. There are detailed illustrations of the submarines and planes used at that time, many photographs of places and people, maps showing the places mentioned in the text, and pictures of memorabilia of the period. In addition to the stories of the four main characters, there are informational boxes which add to the overall narrative about what happened at Pearl Harbor, and which help make this a unique and special book to read.