A GUIDE FOR READING GROUPS ALEUTIAN SPARROW
By Karen Hesse ABOUT THE BOOK
In June 1942, Japanese forces attacked the Aleutian Islands. Within days of the attack, the U.S. military removed the native people of these islands to relocation centers in Alaska's southwest, supposedly for their own protection. Conditions in these camps were deplorable. The Aleuts were held for approximately three years, and many of them died. In a series of short, unrhymed verses, Hesse tells this moving story through the eyes and voice of Vera, a girl of Aleut and Caucasian heritage. THEMES
Aleuts; Alaska; World War II; Internment/relocation camps; Historical fiction DISCUSSION QUESTIONS
- Describe Vera's relationship with her mother.
- Read page 103. Why does Vera think music would have helped them in the camp? Do you agree that music holds this power?
- Why is the book named Aleutian Sparrow
? See page 93 for help.
- What were the effects on the people and the environment of the relocation in both areas, the islands and mainland?
- If you were forced from your home, what treasured possessions would you take with you? Why?
- In the author's note on page 155, Hesse writes: "The damage done in those three years to the Aleut culture is incalculable." Explain how the culture, not just people and possessions, was damaged. ACTIVITIES
- What constituted the ecosystem in the area during t