December 7, 1941.
Best friends Frank and Stanley have it good. Their dads–one a Navy pilot, the other a flight crew chief–are stationed at Pearl Harbor in Hawaii, where the air smells like pineapples, the clear blue water sparkles in the sun, and dozens of US battleships, cruisers, and aircraft carriers stand silent sentinel. World War II is raging everywhere else, and it’s all anyone can talk about–but so far, the United States has remained neutral. For Frank and Stanley, that means more time to daydream about becoming comic book creators. They’ve made up their own superhero in the mold of new characters like Superman, Captain America, and Wonder Woman, and with Stanley’s drawing skills and Frank’s writing skills, they’re sure they’ll get their own comic published one day.
And then everything explodes.
Frank and Stanley are touring the battleship USS Utah when planes roar overhead, dropping bombs and firing machine guns. Surprised sailors scramble to respond, and as Frank and Stanley take cover they finally understand what’s happening: it’s a Japanese sneak attack! The United States wouldn’t go to war, so the war has come to them.
The boys fight to make their way home amid the chaos and carnage, but disaster and danger are everywhere–from torpedoes and bullets to the shocking cruelty of their former friends and neighbors. Because Stanley’s mom is Japanese American, which makes her, and him, “the enemy” in most people’s eyes. And try as he might, Frank can’t truly understand what his best friend is going through.
If Frank and Stanley make it through this infamous day, can their friendship–and their dreams–survive? Or has everything they know and love been destroyed?
Scholastic | February 6, 2024 | Ages 8 and Up
Gratz does his usual splendid job of creating the visceral drama of battle alongside fully realized characters.
—Booklist - STARRED REVIEW
A gripping, well-researched account of courage and friendship.
A propulsive wartime story with an earnest protagonist at its heart.
A Junior Library Guild selection
Amazon Best Book of the Month – February 2024
2024-2025 Tome Society Book Award Winner