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A Boy at War: A Novel of Pearl Harbor Paperback – November 1, 2002

4.5 out of 5 stars 93 customer reviews
Book 1 of 3 in the Adam Pelko Series

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

A 14-year-old boy, newly arrived in 1941 Hawaii, witnesses the attack on Pearl Harbor. In a starred review, PW said, "Mazer successfully fuses a strong portrayal of Adam's transformation with both a vivid account of the attack and subtle suggestions of the complexities of Japanese-American relations as played out in particular lives." Ages 10-14.
Copyright 2002 Reed Business Information, Inc.

From School Library Journal

Gr 5-9-Adam Pelko has lived for only two weeks in Honolulu, where his father is an officer assigned to the USS Arizona in nearby Pearl Harbor. When he befriends Davi Mori, a high school classmate whose parents are Japanese, Adam's rigid father forbids him to associate with Davi, fearing that the anti-Japanese sentiment so rampant on the island will tarnish the Pelko family and Lieutenant Pelko's navy career. When his father is called back to the ship unexpectedly, Adam slips away from his house the following morning-December 7, 1941-to go fishing with Davi and another classmate. Rowing close to the fleet in Pearl Harbor, they witness the horrific Japanese air attack and are nearly killed themselves, their boat shot from beneath them by a low-flying fighter plane. Desperate to reach home and find out if his father is alive, Adam is spotted by an officer who mistakes him for a young enlisted man and orders him into action to help rescue survivors and restore order. Before the day is out, Adam proves himself a hero, bravely confronting death and destruction as he struggles to learn his father's fate. Mazer's final chapters leave a few issues unresolved, but his story's quick pace, graphic detail, and nonstop action will keep readers involved. Expect this novel to be in high demand after the blockbuster film Pearl Harbor arrives in the theaters this summer, generating a new wave of interest in this dramatic episode in history.-William McLoughlin, Brookside School, Worthington, OH

Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information, Inc.

--This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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Product Details

  • Age Range: 10 - 14 years
  • Grade Level: 5 - 9
  • Lexile Measure: 530 (What's this?)
  • Paperback: 112 pages
  • Publisher: Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers (November 1, 2002)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0689841604
  • ISBN-13: 978-0689841606
  • Product Dimensions: 5.1 x 0.3 x 7.6 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 8.8 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (93 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #39,338 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Harry Mazer is the author of many books for young readers, including A Boy at War and A Boy No More, which introduced Adam Pelko; The Wild Kid; and Snow Bound. His books have won numerous honors, including the Horn Book Honor List and the ALA Best Books for Young Adults citations. He is the recipient of the ALAN Award. Harry Mazer lives in New York City and Montpelier, Vermont.

Harry Mazer says, "After I finished A Boy at War, I wanted to write about Adam Pelko again, but what was the story to be? It wasn't until after the tragedies of September eleventh that I found the focus I needed to continue his story." Periods of war and national emergency have never been kind to personal liberties. In the aftermath of September eleventh many Arab and Muslim Americans find themselves under suspicion and their rights jeopardized. In some ways this is what happened after Pearl Harbor, when Japanese Americans were demonized and their rights were trampled. I know that history never simply repeats itself, but I hope that through Adam and Davi's story readers will recognize the parallels--and the perils."

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover
From the first page to the last you will feel as if you are there at Pearl Harbor with Adam on the, "Date which will live in infamy!" December 7, 1941. Harry Mazer has crafted a story that can be read and enjoyed both by young adults and adults. The main character not only watches as the United States is pulled into WWII but he himself, a military brat, a Navy man's son, is pulled in many directions throughout this novel. Allow yourself a block of time to read this page turner! I read it in less than two hours. I was almost late for school because I couldn't put it down. Rating the book on a scale of 1 to 10 my sixth grade students and I rate it a 10! It's one of the best books we have ever read. In my book I think it's a future Newbery Award winner!
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Format: Paperback
A Boy at War
By: Mazer, Harry
Reviewed by: J.Kim
Period: P.3
A Boy at War was about a boy named Adam that just moved to Hawaii. He had a younger sister, a mother, and a father that was in the navy. He had just begun to go to school and met a boy named Davi. They didn't have the ordinary friendship that any other teen had but they became friends by insulting each other any time they could. Soon after, they became friends. His father soon found out and he didn't really like it. It was because Adam found a friend; it was because Adam found a friend that was Japanese. One morning, they decided to go fishing, and that's what they did. Adam didn't have to worry about his father because he was called for an emergency. Martin, Davi, and Adam were all having fun until they started to hear gunshots, planes flying, and explosions. At first, they thought it was just a drill but when the air and water blackened, they fell out of the boat, Martin had a splinter the size of a pencil stuck in his chest, and a bullet skidded across Adams back, they realized it was war. Soon, Adam saw his father's ship, the Arizona had sunk. He didn't know what to do. The next thing you know, He is wearing a marine's suit holding a huge machine gun. He just did the best he could even as a young boy. The chaos still went on and on and when it started to calm down, Adam found his way back home. The tragedy must have ended. All Adam and his family could do was to wait to hear from their father. One day, they received a message from a young union boy and it read that Lieutenant Pelko was missing in action. As soon as they heard the news, Adam's mother decided to move, and without a choice they did.
I liked this book because it gave a lot of detail on what was going on.
Read more ›
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Format: Hardcover
Adam Pelko a military brat attending civilian high school in Hawaii. Adam finds it difficult to make friends moving so frequently. He meets Davi Mori and Martin Kahahawai and they become friends. They plan to go fishing the next day. The boys row out into Pearl Harbor and cast their lines. This simple trip turns out to be the most tragic day of Adams life as he watches the planes fly overhead and explosion of the USS Arizona. The ship his father is on.
The rest of the book progresses as if he is in a dream...he is pushed from child to sailor in minutes and helping search the waters for live men. He can't believe what he is seeing. Adam lives the horror and tragedy. Adam left the house that morning on his bike and came home carrying a gun.
Harry Mazer is powerful. A Boy at War: A Novel of Pearl Harbor is a page-turner.
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A Kid's Review on August 2, 2005
Format: Paperback
Adam, a 14 year old boy, just moved to Honolulu because of his dad's work as an officer assign to the USS Arizona near Pearl Harbor. Adams father is very rigid but Adam respects the navy lifestyle. Adam meets Davi Mori whose parents are Japanese and Adam's father forbids him to hang out with Davi fearing this will look bad and tarnish his navy career due to the feeling of hatred towards the Japanese on the island at the time. Adam made plans to go fishing on December 7, 1941 with Davi and Martin when his dad gets called back unexpectantly to his ship. The boys find a fishing boat in the restricted area and row it out towards a row of battle ships in Pearl Harbor. Suddenly Japanese bomber planes begin dropping bombs and shooting at everyone. There boat is shot at as they row to shore. Martin has a long shard of wood piercing his back and chest. Davi is hit by a gun when a sailor mistakes him as the enemy. Both boys are then escorted to the hospital. Adam was also grazed by a bullet in the back but doesn't realize it until his back starts to hurt later in the novel. Adam is mistaken as an enlisted soldier and is told to put on a uniform and grab a gun to help restore order. This begins the series of events that lead to a fast paced action war story. You have to read this novel to find out what happens to Adam and his father.
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Format: Hardcover
We just finished reading this book together, and I showed excerpts of the movie Pearl Harbor. I loved it, and the kids were riveted by the action. Who wouldn't enjoy a book that places a young 14 year old in Pearl Harbor, where he can see the Arizona and Oklahoma sink and all the gruesome (tastefully handled) mayhem? This completes this semester's reading in our history class--we also read Karen Hesse's Witness and Out of the Dust, both wonderful books. If you are a teacher/librarian wondering about ordering this book, it's a great choice, better yet, order a class set and help bring history alive for Freshman. The lead character is a 9th grader himself. Mazer handles the complex issues of Pearl Harbor--including Japanese racism, the widespread panic, the horror of the sudden attack. The only thing he didn't cover--which I would have appreciated-- is a little more info about the war in Europe, and Japan's alliance with Nazi Germany. This could have been included with just a few extra lines. Otherwise, it's a great read.
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