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  • The Gadget
  • Written by Paul Zindel
  • Format: Paperback | ISBN: 9780440229513
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The Gadget

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ABOUT THE BOOK ABOUT THE BOOK
ABOUT THE AUTHOR ABOUT THE AUTHOR
PRAISE PRAISE
READER'S GUIDE READER'S GUIDE
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Synopsis

Synopsis

Near the end of World War II, scientists in Los Alamos, New Mexico, are working on a project that will alter the fate of the world. Thirteen-year-old Stephen Orr is living at a top secret military base with his father who is a leading physicist building the atomic bomb. Stephen realizes the dangers involved when one of the scientists becomes hospitalized as a result of working with the project. The scientist alerts him to disasters that could come from The Gadget. Stephen feels it is up to him and his friend Tilanov
to find the answers that lie behind this veil of secrecy.
Paul Zindel

About Paul Zindel

Paul Zindel - The Gadget
“I like storytelling. We all have an active thing that we do that gives us self-esteem, that makes us proud; it’s necessary. I have to tell stories because that’s the way the wiring went in.”—Paul Zindel

Paul Zindel is a Pulitzer Prize–winning playwright, and has received numerous accolades and citations for his young adult novels. Several of his books have been named ALA Best Book for Young Adults and New York Times Outstanding Book of the Year.


ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Paul Zindel, one of the founders of the young adult literary genre, is a writer with a great respect for memory. He has used his own reminiscences of youth, as well as his experience as a high school teacher, to create characters infused with the spirit and longing of adolescence. As he writes in his autobiography, The Pigman & Me:

Eight hundred and fifty-three horrifying things had happened to me by the time I was a teenager. . . . If you haven’t croaked before finishing this book, you will know how I survived being a teenager.”

It is Zindel’s ability to write about teens with honesty and humor that has made him one of today’s most renowned and beloved writers of books for young people. As New York Newsday remarked, Zindel is “the rare specimen of a grown-up who seems to have total recall of that emotional roller-coaster ride.”

Born in 1936 on Staten Island, New York, Paul Zindel was raised by a single working mother after his father deserted the family when Zindel was two years old. To find work, Zindel’s mother moved the family fifteen times during his childhood and adolescence. As a result, Zindel didn’t form many close friendships. He turned inward, becoming an adept observer of the world around him, a trait that would serve him well as a writer.

“All of my novels begin with real, specific moments from my own life,” says Zindel, and in fact, most of his novels deal with issues that mirror Zindel’s experiences as a teen: a fatherless adolescence, a turbulent relationship with a mother, feelings of worthlessness, and the absence of long-term friendships.

In fact, everywhere you look in his work, you’ll find reflections of his childhood and adolescence: The search for a father figure is seen in The Amazing and Death-Defying Diary of Eugene Dingman. The exploration of a mother figure with low self-esteem is discussed in Pardon Me, You’re Stepping On My Eyeball! And of course, the concepts of mental and physical illness are powerfully dramatized—no doubt motivated by Zindel’s eighteen-month convalescence from adolescent tuberculosis—with characters that populate books from The Pigman and The Pigman’s Legacy to Harry and Hortense at Hormone High.

After graduating from Wagner College on Staten Island, Zindel spent ten years as a high school chemistry teacher before writing his Pulitzer Prize–winning play, The Effect of Gamma Rays On Man-in-The-Moon Marigolds. He was encouraged by a well-known editor who had seen the play to write a novel for young people, and in 1968, The Pigman, the book which has since influenced millions of adolescent readers and their teachers, was published to wide acclaim.

Most critics of adolescent literature agree that the young adult genre originated in the late 1960s with the publication of several books, one of which was Zindel’s The Pigman. Since writing that book, Paul Zindel has helped keep the YA movement flourishing with twelve other YA novels, along with plays, a children’s book, and screenplays. (His newest series of books for middle-grade readers, The Wacky Facts Lunch Bunch, was launched in October 1993.)

Paul Zindel is married and has two children, David and Lizabeth, and just as his own early life contributed to his novels, the lives of Paul Zindel’s children and his wife shape what he thinks and writes about.

Writing! magazine said of Paul Zindel’s books, “Zindel’s fiction is a dazzling juggling act—despair, hilarity, uncertainty, deep love, and unutterable hatred all fly toward and away from each other with increasingly disquieting speed. Only one thing is certain: You can never be sure where and how things will fall.” The same could be said for Zindel’s remarkable life.


PRAISE

THE PIGMAN
“An intensely moving story of believably alienated young people.”—School Library Journal

“Headline news . . . remarkable . . . Zindel has written a story that will not be denied.”—Publishers Weekly


THE PIGMAN & ME
“Allows readers a glimpse of Zindel’s youth, gives them insight into some of his fictional characters and provides many examples of universal experiences.”—Starred, School Library Journal


CONFESSIONS OF A TEENAGE BABOON
“An experience so real that events are heard and felt rather than read. . . . The book is deftly constructed and moving as well as funny.”—Publishers Weekly


THE UNDERTAKER’S GONE BANANAS
“Teens are sure to find this . . . fast-paced fun.”—Booklist


DAVID & DELLA
“Reads like greased lightning.”—The Horn Book Magazine

Praise

Praise

“Zindel combines a canny mix of innocence and intelligence, and thus allows readers to examine carefully a complex set of questions about moral and political issues and responsibilities.”–Publishers Weekly, Starred
Reader's Guide|About the Book|Discussion Questions|Suggestions|Teachers Guide

About the Book

The Reality of War

Social studies classes study the world’s wars and the impact war has on a global society. Students learn about ancient wars and the more modern wars that have been fought in the name of freedom. They know about the American Revolution, the Civil War, and World Wars I and II. Some students know about the Korean War, the Vietnam Conflict, and the Persian Gulf War. Before the events of September 11, 2001, students in America’s schools knew little about the personal tragedies related to war. War was simply something that happened in books, in another time, and on foreign lands. Now, war surrounds them–on television, radio, and in film. Some know firsthand what it feels like to lose a parent to terrorists, and others wait eagerly in front of the television in hopes of gaining a glimpse of a family member or friend who may be in the Iraqi desert or on the streets of Baghdad. Like the main characters in the novels in this guide, the innocence of America’s children has been marked by violence. A new page of history is being written every day, and it is being done before the eyes of the world’s youngest citizens.

For this reason, it is extremely important that parents and teachers talk with children about war, and offer hope that the world might someday find a peaceful solution to global conflict. Sometimes it is difficult to find the words to explain the complex issues of war, but books are always a good way to spark understanding and conversation. This guide offers discussion for the following books: The Gadget by Paul Zindel; Girl of Kosovo by Alice Mead; Lord of the Nutcracker Men by Iain Lawrence; Flags of our Fathers by James Bradley with Ron Powers, adapted for young people by Michael French; Forgotten Fire by Adam Bagdasarian; and For Freedom by Kimberly Brubaker Bradley.

Pre-Reading Activity
Engage students in a discussion about the recent war in Iraq, and how it was reported in the news. Divide the class into three groups, and assign each group one of the major newspapers or magazines to read. Ask that they read a few issues of the publications during the time of the war and take note of the major headlines, the views of the journalists, etc. Allow students time at the end of each week to share their findings. What conclusions can be drawn about the role of journalists in war?

About the Guide

Set in Los Alamos, New Mexico, during World War II, thirteen-year-old Stephen Orr places himself in grave danger as he tries to uncover the secret of The Gadget, a project his father is developing for the United States government.

Pre-Reading Activity
Ask the group to read the statement from President Harry Truman that he issued on August 6, 1945, (www.nuclearfiles.org/chron/40/pr_us_450806.html) after the United States bombed Hiroshima. Discuss how the creation of the atomic bomb was considered a race against the Germans. Describe the partnership between the United States and Great Britain. Engage the group in a discussion about the relationship between the United States and Great Britain in the war in the Middle East today.

Discussion Guides

1. Stephen is told that he is to trust no one. Discuss how difficult it is to live without trust. What makes Stephen think that he can trust Alexei Nagavatsky? Why does Sewa, Dr. Orr’s housekeeper, warn Stephen about Alexei? How does Stephen betray his father’s trust? What lessons does Stephen learn about trust, betrayal, and truth?

2. Trace Stephen’s fits of anger throughout the novel. How does life on the Los Alamos base contribute to his anger? Describe Stephen’s anger when he finds out about The Gadget. How does Dr. Orr’s explanation of the project outrage Stephen?

3. Dr. Orr tells Stephen, “We were all told we could help the war end.” (p. 149) Discuss whether the government was deceptive with the scientists. How does Dr. Orr avoid being angry with the government?

4. Ask readers to discuss why Stephen is so obsessed with finding out the secret mission at Los Alamos. Why does Sewa feel that Alexei has secrets? What is Stephen’s reaction when he discovers his dad’s secret project? How does Dr. Orr deal with the knowledge that Stephen knows the secret?

5. Discuss why Los Alamos is called “a town that doesn’t exist.” (p. 16) What measures does the government take to make Los Alamos safe and secure for the scientists and their families? How does the government’s security system fail?

6. Compare and contrast the security measures at Los Alamos during World War II to the homeland security issues in the United States today.

For more activities on Images of War, see these titles: For Freedom by Kimberly Brubaker Bradley, Lord of the Nutcracker by Iain Lawrence, Girl of Kosovo by Alice Mead, Flags of Our Fathers by James Bradley with Ron Powers adapted for young people by Michael French, The Gadget by Paul Zindel, and Forgotten Fire by Adam Bagdasarian.


Prepared by Pat Scales, Director of Library Services, the South Carolina Governor’s School for the Arts and Humanities, Greenville, SC.

Suggested Readings

Images of War: A Reading List

War is the theme of many books, from the classics to contemporary literature. Use these books to further enhance the classroom discussion of the images of war.


Revolutionary War
Johnny Tremain
Esther Forbes, illustrated by Lynd Ward
A Newbery Medal Book
Grades 5 up
Dell Yearling paperback • 0-440-44250-8
Dell Laurel-Leaf paperback • 0-440-94250-0


Mexican-American War
Carlota
Scott O’Dell
Grades 5—9
Dell Yearling paperback • 0-440-90928-7

Tucket’s Ride
Gary Paulsen
Grades 5 up
Dell Yearling paperback • 0-440-41147-5
Delacorte Press hardcover • 0-385-32199-6


Civil War
Becoming Mary Mehan: Two Novels
Jennifer Armstrong
Grades 7 up
Dell Laurel-Leaf Readers Circle paperback • 0-440-22961-8
[show Readers Circle logo]

North by Night: A Story of the Underground Railroad
Katherine Ayres
Grades 5 up
Dell Yearling paperback • 0-440-22747-X

Stealing South: A Story of the Underground Railroad
Katherine Ayres
Grades 5—9
Dell Yearling paperback • 0-440-41801-1

Stealing Freedom
Elisa Carbone
An ALA Best Book for Young Adults
Grades 5 up
Dell Yearling paperback • 0-440-41707-4

Storm Warriors
Elisa Carbone
An ALA Notable Children’s Book
Grades 3—7
Dell Yearling paperback • 0-440-41879-8
Alfred A. Knopf hardcover • 0-375-80664-4
GLB • 0-375-90664-9

With Every Drop of Blood: A Novel of the Civil War
James Collier
An IRA Teachers’ Choice
Grades 5 up
Dell Laurel-Leaf paperback • 0-440-21983-3

North Star to Freedom: The Story of the Underground Railroad
Gena K. Gorrell
A VOYA Outstanding Title of the Year
Grades 5 up
Delacorte Press hardcover • 0-385-32319-0

Three Against the Tide
D. Anne Love
Grades 4—7
Dell Yearling paperback • 0-440-41634-5

A Dangerous Promise
Joan Lowery Nixon
Grades 5 up
Dell Laurel-Leaf paperback • 0-440-21965-5

Keeping Secrets
Joan Lowery Nixon
Grades 5 up
Dell Laurel-Leaf paperback • 0-440-21992-2

Nightjohn
Gary Paulsen
Grades 5—9
Dell Laurel-Leaf paperback • 0-440-21936-1
Delacorte Press hardcover • 0-385-30838-8

Sarny: A Life Remembered
Gary Paulsen
An ALA Quick Pick
Grades 7 up
Dell Laurel-Leaf paperback • 0-440-21973-6

Soldier’s Heart: Being the Story of the Enlistment and Due Service of the Boy Charley Goddard in the First Minnesota Volunteers
Gary Paulsen
An ALA Best of the Best Book for Young Adults
An ALA Quick Pick
A Booklist Editors’ Choice Top of the List
Grades 7 up
Dell Laurel-Leaf paperback • 0-440-22838-7
Delacorte Press hardcover • 0-385-32498-7

The Last Silk Dress
Ann Rinaldi
Grades 7 up
Dell Laurel-Leaf paperback • 0-440-22861-1

Time Enough for Drums
Ann Rinaldi
Grades 7 up
Dell Laurel-Leaf paperback • 0-440-22850-6


World War I
Remembrance
Theresa Breslin
Grades 7 up
Delacorte Press hardcover • 0-385-73015-2
GLB • 0-385-90067-8

Ruthie’s Gift
Kimberly Brubaker Bradley; illustrated by Dave Kramer
Grades 2—7
Dell Yearling paperback • 0-440-41405-9

Lord of the Nutcracker Men
Iain Lawrence
Grades 5 up
Dell Laurel-Leaf Readers Circle paperback • 0-440-41812-7
Delacorte Press hardcover • 0-385-72924-3
GLB • 0-385-90024-4


Armenian Holocaust
Forgotten Fire
Adam Bagdasarian
Grades 9 up
Dell Laurel-Leaf Readers Circle paperback • 0-440-22917-0


World War II
The Night Crossing
Karen Ackerman, illustrated by Elizabeth Sayles
Grades 2—5
Dell Yearling paperback • 0-679-87040-7 |

Flags of Our Fathers: Heroes of Iwo Jima
James Bradley with Ron Powers
Adapted for young people by Michael French
Grades 7 up
Delacorte Press trade paperback • 0-385-73064-0
Delacorte Press hardcover • 0-385-72932-4
GLB • 0-385-90009-0

For Freedom
Kimberly Brubaker Bradley
Grades 5—9
Delacorte Press hardcover • 0-385-72961-8
GLB • 0-385-90087-2

Heroes
Robert Cormier
An ALA Best Book for Young Adults
An ALA Quick Pick
Grades 7 up
Dell Laurel Leaf paperback • 0-440-22769-0

Other Bells for Us to Ring
Robert Cormier
Grades 5 up
Dell Laurel-Leaf paperback • 0-440-22862-X

Tunes for Bears to Dance To
Robert Cormier
An ALA Best Book for Young Adults
An ALA Quick Pick
Grades 6 up
Dell Laurel-Leaf paperback • 0-440-21903-5

Jacob’s Rescue: A Holocaust Story
Malka Drucker and Michael Halperin
An IRA Teachers’ Choice
Grades 2—6
Dell Yearling paperback • 0-440-40965-9

The Year of My Indian Prince
Ella Thorp Ellis
Grades 7 up
Dell Laurel-Leaf paperback • 0-440-22950-2

Lily’s Crossing
Patricia Reilly Giff
A Newbery Honor Book
AN ALA Notable Children’s Book
A Boston GlobeHorn Book Honor Book
An IRA Teachers’ Choice
Grades 3—7
Dell Yearling paperback • 0-440-41453-9
Delacorte Press hardcover • 0-385-32142-2

Farewell to Manzanar
Jeanne Wakatsuki Houston and James D. Houston
Grades 7 up
Dell Laurel-Leaf paperback • 0-553-27258-6

One Thousand Paper Cranes: The Story of Sadako and the Children’s Peace Statue
Takayuki Ishii
Grades 5 up
Dell Laurel-Leaf paperback • 0-440-22843-3

Number the Stars

Lois Lowry
A Newbery Medal Book
An ALA Notable Children’s Book
A School Library Journal Best Book of the Year
Grades 5-9
Dell Laurel-Leaf paperback • 0-440-22753-4
Dell Yearling paperback • 0-440-40327-8

The Last Mission
Harry Mazer
An ALA Best of the Best Book for Young Adults
A New York Times Outstanding Book of the Year
Grades 7 up
Dell Laurel Leaf paperback • 0-440-94797-9

In My Hands: Memories of a Holocaust Rescuer
Irene Gut Opdyke with Jennifer Armstrong
An ALA Top Ten Best Book for Young Adults
Grades 7 up
Alfred A. Knopf hardcover • 0-679-89181-1

When My Name Was Keoko
Linda Sue Park
Grades 4—8
Dell Yearling paperback • 0-440-41944-1

Her Father’s Daughter
Mollie Poupeney
Grades 9 up
Dell Laurel-Leaf Readers Circle paperback • 0-440-22879-4

Under the Blood-Red Sun

Graham Salisbury
An ALA Best Book for Young Adults
An ALA Notable Children’s Book
A Scott O’Dell Award for Historical Fiction
A California Young Reader Medal Winner
Grades 5 up
Dell Yearling paperback • 0-440-41139-4

Milkweed

Jerry Spinelli
Alfred A. Knopf hardcover • 0-375-81374-8
GLB • 0-375-91374-2
[burst:] Available September 2003!

The Cay

Theodore Taylor
Grades 5 up
Dell Laurel-Leaf paperback • 0-440-22912-X
Dell Yearling paperback • 0-440-41663-9
Delacorte Press hardcover • 0-385-07906-0

The Gadget
Paul Zindel
Grades 7 up
Dell Laurel-Leaf paperback • 0-440-22951-0

Korean War
Year of Impossible Goodbyes
Sook Nyul Choi
Grades 5 up
Dell Yearling paperback • 0-440-40759-1

Vietnam War
Goodbye, Vietnam
Gloria Whelan
An ALA Quick Pick
A Bulletin Blue Ribbon
An IRA Teachers’ Choice
Grades 3—7
Dell Yearling paperback • 0-679-82376-X


The Balkan Conflict
Girl of Kosovo
Alice Mead
Grades 5 up
Dell Yearling paperback • 0-440-41853-4


Persian Gulf War
Soldier Mom
Grades 5 up
Alice Mead
Dell Yearling paperback • 0-440-22900-6


General
Ain’t Gonna Study War No More: The Story of America’s Peace Seekers
Milton Meltzer
An ALA Best Book for Young Adults
An ALA Notable Children’s Book
Grades 5 up
Random House paperback • 0-375-82260-7
GLB • 0-375-92260-1

American Patriots: The Story of Blacks in the Military from the Revolution to Desert Storm
[show cover]
Gail Buckley; adapted by Tonya Bolden
Grades 5 up
Crown hardcover • 0-375-82243-7
GLB • 0-375-92243-1

The Day the Sky Fell: A History of Terrorism
Milton Meltzer
Grades 5 up
Random House paperback • 0-375-82250-X
GLB • 0-375-92250-4

Shattered: Stories of Children in War
Jennifer Armstrong
Grades t/k
Dell Laurel-Leaf paperback • 0-440-23765-3
Alfred A. Knopf hardcover • 0-375-81112-5
GLB • 0-375-91112-X

Tomorrow, When the War Began
John Marsden
An ALA Best of the Best Book for Young Adults
A Horn Book Fanfare
Grades 7 up
Dell Laurel-Leaf paperback • 0-440-21985-X


Internet Resources

Korean War Project
www.koreanwar.org/html/history_and_reference.html
This site features a discussion of the Korean War.

Resource Listing for World War II
www.ibiblio.org/pha

National War Memorials in Washington DC
www.geocities.com/kattshouse/memorials.html

Armenian National Institute
www.armenian-genocide.org
A discussion of the Armenian genocide from the Armenian National Institute.

The Great War and the Shaping of the 20th Century
www.pbs.org/greatwar
This site provides timeline, maps, and interviews regarding World War I.

First World War
www.firstworldwar.com
This site includes primary documents, information on the battles, and vintage audio of World War I.

Iwo Jima
www.iwojima.com
This site provides information about the Battle of Iwo Jima, a photo of the flag rising, film clips, and other pertinent information about the famous event.

Teacher's Guide



ABOUT THIS BOOK

Set in Los Alamos, New Mexico, during World War II, 13-year-old Stephen Orr places himself in grave danger as he tries to uncover the secret of The Gadget, a project his father is developing for the United States government.

In 1945, Stephen Orr leaves his mother in war-torn London to join his father, a physicist, in Los Alamos, New Mexico. Though Stephen knows that his father is involved in a top-secret mission for the United States government bearing the code name The Gadget, he doesn’t understand the magnitude of the project. As Dr. Orr becomes increasingly obsessed with his work, Stephen begins to investigate The Gadget, and finds himself the target of a dangerous spy ring. He desperately wants friends, and enjoys the company of Alexei Nagavatsky, an older teen who lives with his family on base, but when Alexei’s father turns out to be a Russian spy, Stephen no longer knows whom to trust. Lonely and frightened, Stephen longs for a close relationship with his father, and along the way, discovers the truth surrounding his father’s work.

ABOUT THIS AUTHOR

Paul Zindel is the award-winning author of The Pigman (1968), a novel labeled a young adult classic by critics and young readers. In 1971, he was awarded the Pulitzer Prize for Drama for The Effect of Gamma Rays on Man-in-the-Moon Marigolds. He has written more than 25 books for young readers, several Broadway plays, and numerous screenplays. Zindel was the recipient of the 2002 Margaret A. Edwards Award for his lifetime contributions to young people’s literature.

TEACHING IDEAS

PRE-READING ACTIVITY

Have students read the statement from President Harry Truman that he issued on August 6, 1945, after the United States bombed Hiroshima (See Internet Resources). Discuss how the atomic bomb was considered a race against the Germans. Describe the partnership between the United States and Great Britain during this time period.

THEMATIC CONNECTIONS: Questions for Group Discussion

Trust–Ask students to define trust. Stephen is told that he is to trust no one. Discuss how difficult it is to live without trust. What makes Stephen think that he can trust Alexei Nagavatsky? Why does Sewa, Dr. Orr’s housekeeper, warn Stephen about Alexei? How does Stephen betray his father’s trust? What lessons does Stephen learn about trust, betrayal, and truth?

Anger–Have students trace Stephen’s fits of anger throughout the novel. How does life on the Los Alamos base contribute to his anger? Describe Stephen’s anger when he finds out about The Gadget. How does Dr. Orr’s explanation of the project outrage Stephen? Dr. Orr tells Stephen, “We were all told we could help the war end.” (p. 149) Discuss whether the government was deceptive with the scientists. How does Dr. Orr avoid being angry toward the government?

Secrets–Discuss why Stephen is so obsessed with finding out the secret mission at Los Alamos. Why does Sewa feel that Alexei has secrets? What is Stephen’s reaction when he discovers his dad’s secret project? How does Dr. Orr deal with the knowledge that Stephen knows the secret?

Security–Discuss why Los Alamos is called “a town that doesn’t exist.” (p. 16) What measures does the government take to make Los Alamos safe and secure for the scientists and their families? How does the government’s security system fail? How does Stephen break the security rules? Why is it difficult for Stephen to live under such strict rules? Discuss how the Nagavatsky family passed security checks at Los Alamos. Compare and contrast the security measures at Los Alamos during World War II to the homeland security issues in the United States today.

Family–Describe Stephen’s relationship with his father. Discuss his feelings when his father doesn’t come to meet him at the airport. Why is Stephen so angry when his father reaches out to shake his hand upon his arrival in Los Alamos? Cite evidence in the novel that Stephen wants to be close to his father. Why is it so difficult for Dr. Orr to show affection to his son? How might Stephen describe the Nagavatsky family? Discuss how Stephen’s relationship with his father changes at the end of the novel.

Friendship–Stephen desperately needs a friend at Los Alamos. Why is it difficult to make friends there? Describe his friendship with Alexei Nagavatsky. Debate whether Dr. Orr worries about Stephen’s friendship with Alexei. How does Sewa try to be a friend to Stephen? Discuss whether Stephen is likely to establish friendships at Los Alamos after his experience with Alexei.


CONNECTING TO THE CURRICULUM

Language Arts–Stephen writes a journal entry: “Los Alamos: February 24, 1945–Accident last night. Worried for Dad.” (p. 35) Write what Stephen may have documented in this entry.

Stephen pastes articles about President Franklin D. Roosevelt and Winston Churchill in his journal. Research these two men, and find out why Stephen is so intrigued by them. Write a tribute to Roosevelt that Stephen might deliver at his school on the day that Roosevelt died.

Social Studies–Hirohito, the Japanese emperor during World War II, has been described as Japan’s Hitler. Have students research Hirohito and Hitler and write a short paper that compares the power and the malevolence of the two men.

Hiroshima and Nagasaki were destroyed on August 6 and 9, 1945, by the first atomic bombs used in warfare. Ask students to research the destruction caused by these bombings. How did these events start what has become known as the Atomic Age? Find pictures on the Internet, articles about these events, quotes from Americans after the bombings, and newspaper headlines about the atomic bomb and create a bulletin board collage titled, “The Atomic Age.”

Discuss the relationship between Japan and the United States in the 1940s and today.

Drama–Have students act out a radio interview with the scientists at Los Alamos when the United States bombed Hiroshima and Nagasaki. Then, have them enact an interview with Stephen and other young adults living on base.

Art–Stephen collects model planes, and war-machine trading cards. Have students research World War II fighter planes on the Internet. Then have them illustrate fighter plane cards that Stephen might have in his collection.

Science–Ask students to research the work that is conducted at the Los Alamos National Laboratory and the Oak Ridge National Laboratory today. How many scientists are employed? What is the focus of their work? How will their work affect the future of our nation? How much of their work is top secret? Design a brochure that best describes each of these national laboratories.

J. Robert Oppenheimer was awarded the Fermi Prize in 1963. Research the work of Enrico Fermi and find out why an award is presented in his honor. Find out other scientists who have won this award. Ask students to conduct further research on one of these scientists. Then have them create a time line that outlines the scientist’s contribution to science.

Career Exploration–Stephen’s father is a physicist who helped develop the atomic bomb. What other types of scientists might be employed by the government? Discuss why the work of scientists is often top secret. Find out the various career paths for someone who is interested in physics.

VOCABULARY

The vocabulary in the novel isn’t difficult, but students may encounter a few unfamiliar words. Encourage them to jot down these words and try to define them using clues from the context of the story. Such words may include: saboteurs (p. 11), convoy (p. 12), pompous (p. 22), autoclave (p. 42), abyss (p. 62), chasm (p. 63), arroyos (p. 135), fuselage (p. 135), bunkers (p. 136), and cunning (p. 162).

REVIEWS

*“Zindel combines a canny mix of innocence and intelligence, and thus allows readers to examine carefully a complex set of questions about moral and political issues and responsibilities.”–Starred, Publishers Weekly

BEYOND THE BOOK

INTERNET RESOURCES

Hiroshima Bombing:
Immediate Press Release
August 6, 1945
www.nuclearfiles.org/chron/40/pr_us_450806.html
Text of the statement made by President Harry S. Truman after the bombing of Hiroshima.

A Science Odyssey
www.pbs.org/wgbh/aso/databank/entries/baoppe.html
This site provides a biographical sketch of J. Robert Oppenheimer.

Oak Ridge National Laboratory
www.ornl.gov/history
This is the official site of the Oak Ridge National Laboratory.

Los Alamos National Laboratory
www.lanl.gov/worldview
This site gives information on the Los Alamos National Laboratory.

OTHER TITLES OF INTEREST

Farewell to Manzanar
Jeanne Wakatsuki Houston & James D. Houston
War & Military • Fear • Family
Grades 7 up / 0-553-27258-6
Dell Laurel-Leaf

The Last Mission
Harry Mazer
Family • Friendship • Truth • Fear • War & Military
Grades 7 up / 0-440-94797-9
Dell Laurel-Leaf

Under the Blood-Red Sun
Graham Salisbury
Family • Friendship • Fear • War & Military
Grades 5—8 / 0-440-41139-4
Dell Yearling

COPYRIGHT

Prepared by Pat Scales, Director of Library Services, the South Carolina Governor’s School for the Arts and Humanities, Greenville.

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