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The bed time routine can be a challenge. So, finding a great book that both you and your child look forward to reading
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absolutely helps clear the obstacles to efficiently and happily getting your little one under the covers. In October of 2014, I posted a list of my all time favorite children’s chapter books. Recently, I found another that I have to add to this list: Into the Killing Seas
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Into the Killing Seas is historical fiction based on the sinking of USS Indianapolis during World War II, (book summary below). Every chapter ends with a “cliff hanger.” My eight year old son never wanted to stop at just one chapter. As I would kiss him goodnight, I’d remind him, “They end with a cliff hanger so that we will want to read more. Now we have something to look forward to tomorrow night!”

The events of the story are terrifying, (fire, burned and disfigured men, a sinking ship, stranded in the ocean for days, shark attacks, death). However, Michael P. Spradlin manages to write in a way that is provoking of thought and conversation rather than nightmares. The journey is infused with a sense of strength and victory. We know from the first chapter that the main characters, (two young stowaways), are rescued. Therefore, each life threatening event simply compels us to learn how they survived.

Never once did this book scare my son or cause distress. I feel that his emotion was awe at the ability of two you boys to persevere through catastrophe. My son seemed to have a sense of understanding and solidarity with the characters.

I would recommend this book, depending on the maturity of your child, to boys and girls ages seven to twelve.

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For some great reading suggestions for YOU, follow: WSS Books on Pinterest. My top five favorite recent reads (that I hope to review for you soon): The Rosie Project: A Novel
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 Every Fifteen Minutes 
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We Were Liars
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Golden State: A Novel
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 and one I read a while ago but makes me laugh out loud every time: Let’s Pretend This Never Happened
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Summary of Into The Killing Seas:

The fictional children, Patrick and Teddy, were in journey to find their parents whom they were separated from in 1941 just before Japanese overtook the island of Manila. The boys’ father had been sent to Manila by Henry Ford to assist in the building of an automotive factory.

As the impending threat of Japanese attack escalated, the parents made the heartbreaking choice to send their sons ahead on a flight bound for San Francisco. The parents were meant to follow on the next flight out. The boys were put in the care of a Catholic nun. As they boarded the plane, nine year old Patrick, (the older of the two boys), was met with these words from his mother:

“You listen to me, Patrick, my sweet boy, you and Teddy are going with Sister Felicity. This plane will eventually get you to San Francisco. We’ll wire ahead and have your Aunt Maggie pick you up there. You mind your manners and listen to the Sister. And take care of Teddy. Promise me you’ll take care of Teddy. Can you do that for me? …”

No other flights left Manila before the Japanese invaded. Patrick and Teddy’s flight only made it as far as the island of Guam. There they were hidden from the Japanese in the jungle. They witnessed violent death at the hands of the Japanese. Then in 1945, a marine plotted to return the boys to their parents by smuggling them, in a crate marked as ammunition, onto the USS Indianapolis.

The true account of the Indianapolis is itself a thriller. The cruiser was struck by Japanese torpedoes just past midnight on July 30, 1945. What makes the sinking remarkable is that the torpedoes struck at the worst possible point, hitting a fuel tank and a powder magazine. The vessel was rapidly engulfed in flame. Communication and electricity was knocked out upon impact. The destruction and ultimate submersion was rapid, allowing only one distress call to be sent.

Although the distress call was received by several US vessels, they did not respond. The Japanese were known to lure enemy ships by sending fake distress calls. Therefore, the policy of our military was to send two signals. Absent of a second signal, no rescue was sent for the men of Indianapolis until August 2, 1945 when, by chance, they were seen by the pilot of a Ventura bomber on routine patrol.

There were just under twelve hundred men on the Indianapolis when the torpedoes hit. Approximately three hundred of the men were killed in the explosion or trapped on the sinking ship; the other nine hundred went overboard. The waters that welcomed the nine hundred men are some of the most heavily shark populated waters on earth. Only three hundred and seventeen men were ultimately rescued.

The fictional account of Patrick and Teddy’s survival is based on thorough research and attempts to realistically portray what it was like for the three hundred and seventeen men who survived the attack of both the Japanese and an army of feeding sharks.


 

Spradlin has a series that we are looking forward to trying soon!
Killer Species

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Michael P. Spradlin
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