by Felix Sutton; Historical Consultant–Vice Admiral Willard A. Kitts, 3rd USN (Retired)
First off, SORRY that it has been so long since I have posted. Life has been quite crazy.
Second apology… there is probably going to be just a binge of books, because it’s a beautiful and quiet Sunday afternoon; my husband is gone; and I have no other pressing plans. So. If you read my posts on WordPress, you are probably going to get a brief deluge. Tumblr readers at least get the posts on queue. ;-)
Unless you were a home schooler, you are probably unfamiliar with the We Were There series. Published in the 1950’s and 60’s, they are simple books written at around a 5th-grade reading level that place fictional children inside of a real historical event, thus giving the readers a character to whom they can relate. While in some instances this works very well (events like traveling the Oregon Trail, for instance), in others it seems a bit of a stretch. Pearl Harbor is an example of the latter.
December 7, 1941, is Mike Morrison’s 14th birthday. His dad, a Naval Captain stationed at Pearl Harbor, gives him a small sailboat for his birthday. Mike and his older brother Jeff, a Lieutenant in the Army Air Corps, and the neighbor girl, Mary Jane Fisher (who is a year younger than Mike, and until this particular day, generally regarded a nuisance), all head out to take the new boat for a ride.
And so, they are actually out on the water when the Japanese attack, giving the readers a first-hand view of the event. Mike, Jeff, and Mary Jane, use Mike’s boat to help rescue soldiers (or sailors I guess? I’m not very good at military terms) from the water, somehow avoiding death at every turn. Throughout the rest of the book, Jeff makes his way back to the airport to attempt to attack with one of the view undestroyed planes, while Mary Jane ends up helping the nurses at a makeshift field hospital. The grandest adventure, however, is left to Mike, who sneaks aboard a rescue mission to help men who have been trapped in a capsized minecraft. Mike ends up being the only one small enough to fit through the porthole with the diving gear, and so he is able to save the trapped men, leading them to safety.
The next day, Mike and Mary Jane go exploring and capture a Japanese soldier who has washed up on the beach (!!!).
Overall, while this is a fine book, it is definitely one of the more unbelievable additions to this series. Also, when this book was published, anti-Japanese feelings were still quite strong, and this shows through, as well as the Americans-can-do-no-wrong attitude. Still, a fun read, especially for younger readers who may relate to Mike and Mary Jane more closely.