Goodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read.
Start by marking “Aleutian Sparrow” as Want to Read:
Aleutian Sparrow
Enlarge cover
Rate this book
Clear rating
Open Preview

Aleutian Sparrow

3.79  ·  Rating details ·  834 ratings  ·  187 reviews
In June 1942, seven months after attacking Pearl Harbor, the Japanese navy invaded Alaska's Aleutian Islands. For nine thousand years the Aleut people had lived and thrived on these treeless, windswept lands. Within days of the first attack, the entire native population living west of Unimak Island was gathered up and evacuated to relocation centers in the dense forests of ...more
Paperback, 160 pages
Published June 1st 2005 by Margaret K. McElderry Books (first published October 1st 2003)
More Details... Edit Details

Friend Reviews

To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up.

Reader Q&A

To ask other readers questions about Aleutian Sparrow, please sign up.

Be the first to ask a question about Aleutian Sparrow

Community Reviews

Showing 1-30
Average rating 3.79  · 
Rating details
 ·  834 ratings  ·  187 reviews

More filters
Sort order
Start your review of Aleutian Sparrow
Book Concierge
This slim volume, written in luminous free verse, tells the story of the Aleutian Evacuation during WW II.

Hesse’s novel follows one young teen, Vera, and her friends and family as they struggle to make sense of what is happening, to survive the hardships and to adapt to a life none had ever imagined. The beauty of the work is that Hesse can convey so much in so few words. Here is one page…

When Eva returns from Ketchikan, she says
The creek there is like a woman
Dressed in a filmy g
J-Lynn Van Pelt
Written in poetry, this book tells the forgotten story of the forced relocation of Native Alaskan tribes during WWII. Not many Americans realize that Japanese soldiers invaded American soil, off the coast of Alaska, during WWII. For the native inhabitants of those islands, the invasion began a long ordeal of poor living conditions and discrimination.

Told through the voice of a teenage Aleut girl, the story is informative, compelling, and simultaneously heart-breaking and heart-warming.

I highly r
Steven Shane
Karen Hesse has created a very poignant novel.

I was pleased with the form of writing, terse vignettes bring a type of transcendence of the mundane, spotlighting the daily activities and subsequently infusing the prosaic with meaning. An example of this would be the use of descriptions of the preparation of meals.

The writing style being focused and simple fits the form perfectly. The free verse form has an interesting effect when used to describe a story of multiple years.

The author writes abou
Susan Cimino
Jun 12, 2008 rated it did not like it
Recommended to Susan by: J-Lynn Van Pelt
My first impression of this book was that it appeared to be an easy read. However, the writing style is too sketchy. The author’s switching from log style observation to romantic poetic style description is distracting and a serious interruption to the flow of the story. The author relinquishes any responsibility for historical accuracy by stating that it “is a work based on true events.” The author does not state which events these are, so further research would have to be done by the reader to ...more
Mar 25, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: historical
4.5 stars

There is a group of indigenous people who live in a string of islands where it sits on, according to Wikipedia, both the US and Russian territory, called Aleutian. The story presented by Ms Hesse is something that happened to them during WW2 in 1942-1945. It follows Vera, an Aleutian teenager in the time where hers & 4 other village were relocated into a forest. The reason was to ensure the safety of the people from Japanese attacks.

Just imagine, a group of people that grew up & live t

Jun 12, 2008 rated it liked it
I like this book well enough and think that it would be a good addition to a WWII unit or poetry unit. It would also be a good way to introduce poetry and perspective. Children are more willing to write poetry when they find out that it doesn't always have to rhyme or be a specific length However, in a school setting some background knowledge would I need to provide lots of discussion time for students to work out the complex issues of intolerance, persecution, and feeling of sorry that book evo ...more
Angie Fehl
Jun 28, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
4.5 Stars

Aleutian Sparrow is another verse novel from Karen Hesse, similar in style to her Dust Bowl story, Out of the Dust. Starting in June of 1942, just months after the Pearl Harbor attack, Aleutian Sparrow tells the story of how within days of that attack, all the Aleut people were evacuated from their villages and moved to relocation centers, the government fearful of fishing contract disagreements between the Aleut and the Japanese. They are assured the move is only temporary, but detainm
Mar 13, 2011 rated it really liked it
Shelves: rll520-poetry
This is the fictionalized account of the true event during World War II when the U.S. government relocated thousands of residents of the Aleutian Islands to the forests in southeast Alaska as told through the eyes of a young girl, Vera. They remained there for three years, and one in four died. This book should be included in any study of World War II as much as study is given to the relocation of Japanese, which has been given more attention. I never knew of this relocation or its effect on the ...more
Jun 18, 2008 rated it liked it
I think this is a great book to use in conjunction with a social studies lesson about WWII. The story of the Aleutians is not one commonly addressed in education, so it is a good way to show the marginalized accounts of some groups. It also offers a great basis for comparison regarding the treatment of others and the "persecution" some experienced at the hands of governments. I would not use it without background knowledge of both the time period and the people first. I also do not...more I thin ...more
Valerie Dominguez
Jun 13, 2008 rated it liked it
Recommends it for: teachers and students 6th through 8th grade
Recommended to Valerie by: J-Lynn my Literacy II instructor
This book is a good resource to incorporate with in a unit on WWII because it presents a culture that isn't one that is usually discussed, or known about. I am not saying that time should be spent reading the entire book, but a few key poetic versus to show what the Aleutian people went through would be helpful. Also being that is is historical fiction it would allow the students to learn about this occurence in a more interesting way. With a read aloud of just a few of the poems it may spark so ...more
Jentry Hammond
Jun 13, 2008 rated it really liked it
The historical content included in this book was very eye opening and interesting. If poetry interests you this is an excellent choice that will keep you entertained as well as informed. Hesse uses short precise stanzas and vivid descriptions which come together to create an interesting, thought provoking read.
As a teacher, if I incorporate this book into my curriculum I will use it as a segway or compliment to some other lesson. Possibly with a unit on WWII to offer other perspectives on the wa
Johanna Weber
Jun 13, 2008 rated it really liked it
Aleutian Sparrow is a historical fiction novel that illustrates the experiences of the Aleutian people when they were removed from their homeland after it was bombed by the Japanese during World War II. The novel, which is written in free verse and is narrated by a fourteen year old girl named Vera, takes one through the upheavals, the heartache, and the perseverance of her people in a time of uncertainty and desperation. The text is filled with images that bring light to the brutal experiences ...more
Mar 01, 2012 rated it really liked it
A beautifully written story told from the eyes of a native Aleutian teen. Adding yet another layer to the horrors of war is the little known fact about the travesties that haunted and scarred the small chain of islands off Alaska's coast called the Aleutians. In 1942, the Aleutian Islands were attacked by Japan. Vera and her family are forced to move to from their land, where they made seal-gut pants, could capture cod with their hands and gather grass for fires and medicine to a dirty, inhospit ...more
Jun 12, 2008 rated it really liked it
This historical fiction book provides another perspective about WWII and the relocation of the native Aleutians. This story is told from the perspective of a fourteen year old girl, written in free verse. Aleutian Sparrow is a quick read and the poems are well identified to tell the reader what they are about. In addition, Karen Hesse provides the reader with a map at the beginning to give the reader an idea of where the Aleutian Islands are located.

This book offers itself for many lessons, such
This book was highly recommended by my Goodreads friend, Cherylann as a follow up to Out of the Dust which is a special favorite of mine. Hesse does such a great job of capturing the essence of history and she does not disappoint in this book. As a result of the bombing of Pearl Harbor and the distrust of Japanese, they gentle Aleuts were forced to relocate to inhospitable lands, boredom, loneliness and death from disease. This free verse novel truly captured the mistakes that history makes dis ...more
Jun 12, 2008 rated it really liked it
This book was a great use of perspective. Written in all poems, which was fantastically done, it shows the point of view of the Aleutian people who were taken from their home by their government, American government.

This book would be great when learning poems, or when learning about different perspectives and teaching children to be skeptical about what is in their History books.

Will be most useful if paired with an American governement article showing the government's view of them moving the
Jun 13, 2008 rated it liked it
Recommends it for: teachers
Recommended to Candy by: J-Lynn Van Pelt
This is a book that offers a different perspective of a critical historical event. It allows one to see a minority group whose experience has been marginalized. it is written in poetry form, the verses are not consistent and can either leave a lot to the imagination or provide an incomplete story. I think it depends on what you are looking at using the book for and what style you like to read. If you want to give the students an opportunity to look at perspectives or poetry, excellent choice. It ...more
Shawndine Begay
Jun 09, 2008 rated it really liked it
This book is written in poetry form from the view of Vera, a young Aleut girl. It takes place during WWII when the Aleuts were relocated to camps in Alaska. This was because the Japanese invaded the Aleutian islands.It shows some of the stuggles Vera and the other people had to go through during this time. It gives another perspective on WWII, and connects to the reader on an emotional level. It also touches on other issues the Native American groups were facings at the time. I liked that it was ...more
Hannah Cunningham
Sep 28, 2018 rated it really liked it
Aleutian Sparrow by Karen Hesse provides a window into the emotions of the Aleutian people as they were evicted and displaced from their ancestral homeland. The free verse story is told from the point of view of a young woman. The experiences of the Aleutian people are captured in Karen Hesse's writing. This book provides a great insight into the suffering, confusion, agony, and homesickness of this people. The free verse writing style allowed for a lot of emotion to be expressed on each page. I ...more
Patrick Rossi
Jun 10, 2008 rated it really liked it
Shelves: poetry
This book has many excellent ways it can be applied to lessons and thematic units. It can be easily added to reading groups and book clubs during WWII units. In addition to all the possible application to its concrete time period and setting, this book can be coupled with class discussion and exploration into the power of intolerance, misunderstanding, and the command to remain authentic, and true to one’s self in the wake of sorrow, disease and a family dismantelling.
Jun 13, 2008 rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: 4th-8th grade students
Recommended to Warren by: UNR professor
This is a very good Historical Fiction book. There are many different spots that can be turned into a good lesson about some less talked about subjects during the world war. I think this is a nice was a introduce this to the children. I also think that this book would work well with some sort of compare and contrast with the Diary of Anne Frank. These are very similar books and I think you could make many references to each. Very good book here.
Kyle Weiscopf
Feb 05, 2016 rated it really liked it
I think this book was interesting because it was about the
Japanese. Also it was because they went to Alaska as again
a refugee. She got evacuated because of all of the war that
was happening. So this book was also interesting because
they were at a city in Japan. Also this book was very interesting
because it felt like it was real because that actually happened in
real life they brought over refugees to where ever it was safe. So
it was a really good book.
Jun 10, 2008 rated it liked it
This is a really short book wrote in poetry form that is really good to show this style of writing and poems. Through out the book it talks about people and distortion by other people and makes kids think about what else we are missing. It is a historicla fiction book, but provides great inofmation that can be taught in a week and be tied to history, writing, geography and reading.
Jessica P.
Jun 10, 2008 rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: young teens
Recommended to Jessica P. by: J-Lynn
This is a wonderfully written story about the Aleutian tribe, told through a young girl's point of view. She has many struggles with mother and within herself about staying true to her Aleutian tribe's way of life, or adapting to the way of life she was forced into when she and her tribe were involuntarily evacuated from their Alaskan island.
Ayaka Sugiura
Jun 12, 2008 rated it liked it
It is good book for connecting social study and literature such as World War II, or Native American history. I recommend that before reading book, you can see the map of Alaska islands, or bring picture in your class. it is help for understanding this book very well.

This book is like diary which is written poem, so it is easy to read; children do not get stress to read even ESL learners.
Jun 15, 2008 rated it really liked it
This is a WWII story told by a young girl about the Aleutian tribe and their relocation. The story depicts the struggle of the tribe as they try to keep their heritage and community in unfamiliar environments.
Jun 01, 2014 rated it really liked it
I do love Alaskana, even though it's often a difficult, sad, and trying history. Hesse has an amazing ability to share such a rich history in such few words. Though this is actually fiction, there is so much truth.
Ashley Fricker
Jun 12, 2008 rated it really liked it
This book is told through a series of poems. It is the story of Vera who lives on the Aleutian Islands off of Alaska during WWII. She is forced to leave everything she knows.
Jim Agustin
Close to the trudging end. Not sure I'll persevere. Good idea, just not compelling enough writing.

Update... very disappointing. Too light and not much there after so many pages. :(
A heartbreaking story worth more effort than Hesse provided. She wrote a fragmented outline, leaving the potential for a good novel, but in fact it feels unfinished.
« previous 1 3 4 5 6 7 next »
There are no discussion topics on this book yet. Be the first to start one »

Readers also enjoyed

  • The Year of Miss Agnes
  • Goodbye, My Island
  • Tisha: The Story of a Young Teacher in the Alaskan Wilderness
  • Fighter in Velvet Gloves: Alaska Civil Rights Hero Elizabeth Peratrovich
  • Nomad: From Islam to America: A Personal Journey Through the Clash of Civilizations
  • Jacob Have I Loved
  • Marcus Vega Doesn't Speak Spanish
  • Henry's Sisters
  • Us and Uncle Fraud
  • Ugly Girls
  • Louise's Gamble (Louise Pearlie, #2)
  • Just as Long as We're Together
  • Dreamsnake
  • Admonition
  • The Upstairs Room
  • Louise's War (Louise Pearlie, #1)
  • The White Rose Murders (Sir Roger Shallot, #1)
See similar books…
Karen Hesse is an American author of children's literature and literature for young adults, often with historical settings. Her novel Out of the Dust was the winner of the 1998 Newbery Medal and the Scott O'Dell Award for Historical Fiction. In 2002, Hesse was a recipient of the MacArthur Fellowship.

For more information, please see

News & Interviews

As dedicated readers already know, some of the best and most innovative stories on the shelves come from the constantly evolving realm of young ...
39 likes · 13 comments