Dead in the Water

192p. (World War II: Bk. 2). ebook available. Scholastic. Sept. 2014. Tr $17.99. ISBN 9780545522984.
Gr 5–8—Hank McCallum is a Navy airedale, helping prepare planes for the fighter pilots serving on the USS Yorktown as they battle the Japanese during World War II. Hank is proud of his work and his skill as a baseball player, until he meets Bradford, a fellow crewmember who plays in the Negro Leagues. Bradford opens Hank's eyes, not only to ways to improve his game but also to the condition of the African American Navy men, who are forced to wear white gloves and serve food to the pilots aboard the ship. As the war progresses, the battles become increasingly dangerous. When the Yorktown,badly damaged by torpedoes, has to return to Hawaii for repairs, Hank witnesses first-hand how his friend Bradford is confronted by the Hawaiian police simply for visiting the beach. But both men face an even greater challenge as their barely-repaired ship is sent out to intercept the Japanese forces near Midway Island. In The Right Fight (Scholastic, 2014), Lynch portrayed the U.S. Army's battles against the Nazis in North Africa through the eyes of baseball player Roman Bucyk. In this sequel, Lynch follows one of Bucyk's baseball rivals, who appears briefly in the opening chapters of the first title. The characters and situations in this story are compelling, especially Hank's love for his brother, Theo, and his fierce 10-year-old sister, Susan. The questions and challenges raised by his friendship with Bradford convey the unfair treatment of African American servicemen. The battle scenes are gritty and gripping, building to a shockingly abrupt and inconclusive ending (readers can infer what happened from the title of the book as well as from the actual events on which the story was based). Hopefully Lynch will address some of the unanswered questions about these characters in a later volume. This book will easily appeal to middle grade fans of World War II fiction and would make a good choice for historical fiction assignments.—Ashley Larsen, Pacifica Libraries, CA
In the aftermath of Pearl Harbor, Hank finds himself on the USS Yorktown. Missing his family, he befriends a fellow sailor and, along with the dangers of war, learns about the racism his friend must face. Hank's naiveté is shed as he learns difficult life lessons. Heavy topics such as war and prejudice are approached with compassion and gravity in this second series installment.

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