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Projekt 1065: A Novel of World War II by Alan Gratz



Read time- 7-8 hrs
(RwC)- Recommended with Caution
(C)- Content -Peer Bullying, Fighting, Spying, Theft, Moderate Detail of Violence, PopCulture Language

This is Fiction- Similar to the twists and turns of The Hardy Boys or The Box Car Children.

Historical inaccuracies according to The Historical Novel Society

Did They Really Read the Book?

Good Vocab Words (Oxford)

zealot --noun --a person who is fanatical and uncompromising in pursuit of their religious, political, or other ideals

proboscis --noun --the nose of a mammal or an elongated sucking mouthpart that is typically tubular and flexible. (used to described the tubular anti-air gun)

Recurring Themes

  • Nationalism
  • Personal sacrifice for greater good
  •  deception/misrepresentation
Can your reader talk about these events? (3 mini-sagas...)

=====================Saga 1====================
  • Projekt 1065  is the code name for a new Nazi Fighter Jet project
  • Michael's Father is the Irish Ambassador to Germany and stationed in Berlin at the height of WW2.  
  • Michael and his family are also undercover informants/spies for the Allied Forces 
    • Sent to Germay to uncover a Nazi assassination plan on an allied scientist working on the Manhattan Project 
  • Michael is part of Hitler's Youth 
    • On mission, Michael is the first to find a recently downed RAF pilot (Simon) and makes it his goal to return Simon home
      • Simon  suffered a sprained ankle and wounded arm in the crash
      • Simon was on a recon mission looking for evidence of  Projekt 1065
    =====================Saga 2====================
    • Michael learns that the dad of another in Hitler's Youth, (Fritz), works on the Projekt 1065  and has blueprints
      • Simon helps Michael hone his photographic memory in order to memorize Projekt 1065 blueprints
      • Series of events happen hours before Michael was supposed to escort Simon to his secret drop-off location to return home 
        1.  Allied Air Raids force Michael's Hitler Youth Squad to man the guns
          1. Michael and his team shoot down a Bomber
          2. Michael sabotages the aim settings to prevent another Allied casualty and is confronted by a witness who saw him 
          3. **Graphic** The witness intends to kill Michael for his treason, but is suddenly ripped apart from falling shrapnel 
        2. The Edelweiss Army (a resistance youth-group) ambush Michael and his team while they're in shock from losing their comrade.
      ==================Saga 3====================
      • Michael pieces together previous conversations, while talking to his parents, to reveal the following:
        • The Allied Scientist is attending a science summit in Switzerland to recruit international help
        • The Hitler Youth are going to attend the summit posing as science enthusiasts in order to kill the scientist
      • Michael needs to earn a spot on the assassination trip and does so, by turning in Simon and his parents to the Nazi authorities.
        • Simon chooses to sacrifice himself to save the scientist
        • Michael's family fled the night before ahead of Michael's confessions to the SS
      • Michael finds the scientist at the conference and goes through a series of events to save him
        • Alerts Swiss authorities of bomb on premises
        • Fights his comrades after they confront him
        • Finds the scientist again and tries to escape via gondola car down the mountain
        • Learns that Fritz has the Bomb on top of their gondola car
        • Fritz drops the bomb case trying to save Michael from falling off the car
        • Explosion triggers and avalanche and Fritz dies
      • Michael goes to the Irish Embassy with the scientist and is reunited with his parents
        • Debriefed and works with agents to redraw Project 1065 blueprints
        • Finally, given new assignment in Washington, DC

        Final Notes

        Parental Word of Caution- 

        [This is a kid's version of Fight Club by Chuck Palahniuk....]

        Projekt 1065 glorifies physical altercations and fighting for dominance and hierarchy. So much so, that it warrants caution with impressionable minds-  You could find your kids fighting, boxing, or punching things as the fight scenes in the book were descriptive, high-adrenaline, and successful in garnering praise and recognition to the victor.

        The main character also is also encouraged to spy, sneak, snoop, and steal.  In context, war-time espionage gave (and gives) us a leg up against an adversary and affords us inside knowledge on plans, operations, etc.  Remove that behavior from its context of a WW2 setting though, and it's the kind of heroic influence that can leads to trouble if left on unguided.

        Read the Authors Afterword

        It helps to place the book on the entertainment-academic scale. The most historically accurate attribute of the book is the setting itself, the acknowledgement of Hitler's Youth, and the understanding that  Hitler's Youth participated in various offensive-defensive campaigns. Ireland too, was truly presumed neutral, but covertly gathered intelligence for Allies- and that's where Michael fits in...

        If Your Kiddos Liked the Book

        The author's recommendations and reference soure was Hitler Youth: Growing Up in Hitler's Shadow 

        However, if it's the plot they enjoy, then The Hardy Boys  or The Boxcar Children (age-group dependent) have a similar pace!


        If it's the spying they enjoy, Simon, the RAF pilot, told Michael to read this spy novel: Kim by Rudyard Kippling:


        Upcoming Book Reviews!

        Kid's Book Reviews Coming Soon!

        • Word of Mouse by James Patterson/Chris Grabenstein
        • The War that Saved My Life by Kimberly Brubaker Bradley
        • Fever 1793 by Laurie Halse Anderson
        • Pax by Sara Pennypacker
        • Pottymouth and Stoopid by James Patterson/Chris Grabenstein
        • Where the Mountain Meets the Moon by Grace Lin
        • The Girl Who Drank the Moon by Kelly Barnhill
        • Out of My Mind by Sharon Draper
        • Crenshaw by Kathrine Applegate
        • The Devil's Arithmetic by Jane Yolen
        • Willa of the Wood by Robert Beatty
        • Tumble and Blue by Cassie Beasley
        • Projekt 1065 by Alan Gratz


        Oh, the places we'll go!

        Purpose-driven Kid's Book Reviews

        Welcome to Dad Read It First! where I pre-read the books that eventually land in the hands of my 3 kids in an effort to re-enforce morals, ethics, and cultural standards as they come across them.

        I'm a parental "sherpa", I guess- helping my kids to react for themselves during the Joplin Tornado in I Survived or trying to stomach and rationalize survivor accounts of the the sho'a (Holocaust) in The Devil's Arithmetic.    

        For you, I want to share bite-size reviews (2-3 times a month).  It costs nothing...great for all things, and versatile enough to apply liberally! Here's what I'm bringing to the table:

        I'll review a mix of books from 2/3rd grade - 8/9th grade...Primarily fiction, but maybe some non-fiction, too. 

        You will find plenty of conversation starters that you can share with your yahoos and even notable book report attributes that you can lean on when a short-notice, school project deadline is a sunrise away! 

        I  have singular intentions of keeping this blog focused on kid and young adult books...Not a political platform, no personal soapboxes, no ranting, no whining - Promise!

        Other Specifics

        Accelerated Reader Stats

        You'll find the Accelerate Reader (AR) stats linked directly to each book!  Classrooms often take AR quizzes to earn points for class parties, so you have the eligible points per test to reference, too.  And even some libraries organize their kid sections according to this reading scale so you can quickly locate the right level book for your kids.  If your kid's teacher uses a different reading scale in their classroom (and that's ok!), the AR site can help you translate- (With feedback though, I can append other scales too!)

        Accelerated Reader Bookfinder

        Reading Quizzes

        I'll also link the Teachers Pay Teachers sites for each book that I review. If you're looking for reading comprehension quizzes to "ruin" the long summer break or need home school material to quiz your growing readers, this site is a great marketplace.  No affiliation or incentives, just a huge fan! (And Thank you, Teachers!!)

        Book Report Spot Check

        There's also a section in each/most/some of my reviews (it's a nascent idea, forgive the early under-commitment) that I call, "Did your kiddos really read it...?". 

         Still working with the content and length to find the right blend, but if you want a quick rundown the plot, new vocab words, or maybe some starter questions to get your kiddos talking about their book, this will be a good place to start.  Plus... if I do it right, you won't have to read your kid's book report selection (the night before it's due) to know that they nailed it! 


        I love food!... Food and "book chat" pair so well, I think! From time to time, I might share a favorite recipe that fits the book on display!  Think Robin Sloan's, Sourdough...coupled with the best buttermilk sourdough pancake recipe this side of the 1930's. 

        Again, Welcome and Enjoy!


        The One and Only Ivan by Katherine Applegate

        • (R) Recommended
        • (Zzz) Short Chapters 
        • Short reading time- 3-4 hrs 
        • Several references to animal abuse/deaths in captivity

        Did They Really Read the Book?

        The kiddos will most certainly root for the animals to escape from captivity and you'll know they actually read the book if they can tell you most of the following details:
        • Theme: animals don’t belong in cages- (Ivan initially calls his cage a domain)
        • Notable Characters:
          • Ivan is a proud but reserved, 27y/o Silverback Gorilla...and an artist
            • always lived alone
            • paints things found in his cage using crayons and finger paints 
            • paintings sold for money in the gift shop "with or without a frame"
            • sleeps with a stray dog named Bob
          • Julia (also an artist) is the human daughter of the only custodian on-site at the big-top 
            • does art with Ivan while her dad works to pay mom's medical bills
            • routinely deciphers Ivan's paintings (a Black Beetle)
          • Stella is Ivan's elephant companion 
            • performs 3 x day/365 days /year- subjected to physical abuse when non-compliant
            • Tells the story of a zoo and changes Ivan's perception of captivity
            • becomes the surrogate for a newly acquired baby elephant (named Ruby)
        • Plot details:
          • Ivan promises Stella that he'll watch after Ruby- make a better life for her in a zoo
          • Stella dies of a neglected foot infection
          • Ivan paints a billboard-size zoo mural that Julia pieces together, deciphers w/ her Dad
          • Publicity of Ivan's mural attracted enough attention to uncover poor animal conditions
          • The big-top animals are shipped off to local zoo and shelters for adoption
          • Ivan gets his troop and a wide open space that overlooks Ruby's habitat
          • Ivan reflects on his promise to the Stella and feels satisfied 
        Stella also tells a story about Jambo the Gorilla--who protected an injured child that fell in his zoo pen--definitely worth the 2-5 minute clip to enrich the contextual quality of the story.

        Final Notes

          If you have deeply empathic kids who feel for animals or perhaps embrace the Wild Kratts mantra “..animals belong free and in the wild...”—this book will offer several well-guided moments for personal thought and reflection on the use of animals for human entertainment.

        The author wrote in the afterword that a majority of the book was of her own imagination but that Ivan was seeded from the story of a real gorilla that was really in captivity.

        This felt like a kid’s spin-off of one of my favorite adult books--Ishmael by Daniel Quinn.  It’s about the transition of society away from the hunter-gatherer towards an agricultural system….as told by a telepathic gorilla…Don't let the telepathy scare you away-- It's a captivating and wonderfully though-provoking story.  Definitely recommended if you also like Guns, Germs, Steel by Jared Diamond or The Rise and Fall of the of Dinosaurs by Steve Brusatte.  


        The Great Fire by Jim Murphy

        AR Stats

        Reading Quizzes

        • (R) Recommended
        • Short reading time- 3 hrs 
        • (L) Language

        Did They Really Read the Book?


        conflagration (noun)   --an extensive fire which destroys a great deal of land or property.

        • Background: 

          • The Chicago fire occurred over a 3 day period Oct 8-10, 1871
          • Nearly 100K people were made homeless (The Army set up 50K tents to support)
          • 120 human remains recovered, 300 presumed cremated

        • Plot details:

          • Chicago had previously suffered from an enduring drought and was bone dry
          • "The city was meant to burn"
            • build of wood structures, wooden sidewalks, wooden pathways, with wooden architectural ornamentation, and tar roofing material
          • The Great Fire started in the barn of the O'Leary Family and spread immediately
            • cause speculated, but unknown
          • Missteps throughout the emergency response AND failed checks/balances gave time to the fire
            • weary citizens and responders dismissed the call to sound alarms for the Great Fire because they assumed it was the previous night's fire still smoldering
            • delayed 1st and 2nd official alarms due to human error
              • inaccurate account of fire location
          • Reshaped Architectural design and preferred material-choice
            • Complete ban on wood in the city
            • Introduction to Steel

          Final Notes

          This historical non-fiction reads at the 7th grade level- one instance of the word d@mn, (used in an account to describe the fire). 
          It offers a glimpse of disparate social class-structures, the finer points of city planning, interesting aspects of fire science, and an example of how we rationalize collective failures by placing blame in the wake of a disaster. 

           If you have younger kids with an interest in the historical account of the Chicago Fire, the I Survived series is always riveting (review coming soon).

          Extra Resources

          National Geographic has article other historical details and the  Chicago History Museum wrote a short piece on the beloved Fire Chief that perished in the Great Fire.