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Book Review

This book has been reviewed by Focus on the Family’s marriage and parenting magazine. It is the fourth book in the “I Survived” series.

Positive Elements

Spiritual Content

Sexual Content

Violent Content

Crude or Profane Language

Drug and Alcohol Content

Other Negative Elements


Pro-social Content

Objectionable Content

Summary Advisory

Plot Summary

At 11 years old, Danny Crane is making bad choices. Living in New York with his mom, he has started hanging around with a street thug named Earl Gasky and committing petty crimes. When Danny’s best friend, Finn, falls from a fire escape ladder and gets badly hurt, Mom decides she and Danny need to start a new life elsewhere. It’s 1941, and hospitals in Hawaii are hiring nurses. She and Danny move, but he is determined to sneak away and return to New York as soon as possible.

At their new home, Danny meets his 3-year-old Japanese neighbor, Aki. The boy has taken a baby boar from its mother, thinking it is a puppy. Danny frees the baby boar and saves Aki from serious injury by the angry mother. He returns Aki to his mother, Mrs. Sudo, who invites Danny to lunch. She shows Danny the book of airplanes her husband has sketched for Aki. Danny is still plotting ways to get himself back to New York when Mrs. Sudo makes him realize just how much his mother needs him.

Early the next morning, Aki appears and tells Danny there are airplanes in the sky. He says none of them look like the ones his father drew. As the boys watch, bombs begin to fall. Mrs. Sudo arrives and recognizes these are Japanese planes. She starts to take the boys to a bomb shelter, but Danny runs off to find his mother at the military hospital. On his way, he meets Mack, an officer who is interested in Mom.

Danny and Mack run and dodge the bombs and gunfire of enemy planes. They can see the battleships in the harbor are on fire. They’re also seeing and hearing about many deaths and injuries as they head toward Mom’s hospital. Mack shields Danny with his own body, and Mack sustains a serious, bloody injury.

Since there are no available ambulances, Danny hotwires a car like Earl taught him. He drives Mack and other injured men to the hospital. There, he finds his mother. She is alive and helping treat the injured. As Danny watches her work, he realizes how glad he is to be with her. He knows he is no longer the sort of boy who would abandon her and go back to New York.

A few days after the bombings, Danny learns Aki’s father has been arrested. Police found his sketches of American airplanes and accused him of helping the Japanese. Danny sends a telegram to Earl to see if he can help get Mr. Sudo released. Danny never learns whether it was Earl’s doing, but Mr. Sudo is eventually set free.

In the aftermath of the bombings, Danny realizes that he now fears many things. He’s pleased, however, that Mack often visits for dinner and that Mr. Sudo is teaching him to draw. He’s disappointed that Mack, now nearly healed, will be leaving to do bombing missions. One night, Danny sees the baby boar in his yard again. He can tell the mother is no longer around and he fears the animal may have lost its family during the bombings. He takes the baby to Aki as a Christmas gift.

Christian Beliefs

As bombs rain down, Danny prays for the attack to stop.

Other Belief Systems


Authority Roles

Danny’s dad has been gone since before Danny was born. His mother works long shifts as a nurse and cleaning lady to support the family. Mack uses his body to shield Danny from bombs and gunfire.


The words heck and darned appear. Danny’s friend Finn falls 15 feet onto a sidewalk and blood seeps from under his head. Mack is hit during the bombings and sustains a jagged wound from which he loses a lot of blood. He drives him and other injured people to the hospital. Danny hears reports about the many people killed and injured.



Discussion Topics

Get free discussion questions for this book and others, at FocusOnTheFamily.com/discuss-books.

Additional Comments/Notes

Race: Japanese people living in the U.S. come under intense scrutiny after the bombings. The author’s notes mention that Japanese Americans were forced from their homes and relocated to internment camps.

Crime: In New York, Danny gets involved with a criminal named Earl. Danny skips school, sneaks into movies and steals food at times.

The author notes in the back of the book include information about World War II. There are also facts about the day Pearl Harbor was bombed and a timeline of the attacks.

If you are looking for parenting articles to help your child work through fear, try these resources:

Helping Kids Face Their Fearshttp://www.focusonthefamily.com/parenting/your-childs-emotions/childhood-fears/helping-kids-face-their-fears by Sherry Surratt

Calming Childhood Fears Fearshttp://www.focusonthefamily.com/parenting/babies-toddlers-preschoolers/overcoming-childhood-fears/calming-childhood-fears by Early Years Authors

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Book reviews cover the content, themes and worldviews of fiction books, not their literary merit, and equip parents to decide whether a book is appropriate for their children. The inclusion of a book's review does not constitute an endorsement by Focus on the Family.

Episode Reviews



Readability Age Range

10 to 12


Lauren Tarshis






Record Label



Scholastic Inc.


On Video

Year Published





We hope this review was both interesting and useful. Please share it with family and friends who would benefit from it as well.

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