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The Gadget

Written by Paul ZindelAuthor Alerts:  Random House will alert you to new works by Paul Zindel


· Laurel Leaf
· Paperback · Ages 12 and up
· February 11, 2003 · $6.99 · 978-0-440-22951-3 (0-440-22951-0)

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The Gadget
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ABOUT THIS GUIDE

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 THIS BOOK

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.

FOR DISCUSSION

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 READING

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.

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