Hide Sora notification

Try Sora - the student reading app, by OverDrive

Apple App Store
Google Play Store
  Main Nav
Hunt for the Bamboo Rat
Cover of Hunt for the Bamboo Rat
Hunt for the Bamboo Rat
Borrow Borrow Borrow
“A gripping saga of wartime survival.” —Kirkus Reviews, Starred Based on a true story, this World War II novel by Scott O’Dell Award winner Graham Salisbury tells how...
“A gripping saga of wartime survival.” —Kirkus Reviews, Starred Based on a true story, this World War II novel by Scott O’Dell Award winner Graham Salisbury tells how...
Available Formats-
  • Kindle Book
  • OverDrive Read
  • EPUB eBook
  • Available:
  • Library copies:

Recommended for you



  • “A gripping saga of wartime survival.” —Kirkus Reviews, Starred
    Based on a true story, this World War II novel by Scott O’Dell Award winner Graham Salisbury tells how Zenji, 17, is sent from Hawaii to the Philippines to spy on the Japanese.

    Zenji Watanabe was born in Hawaii. He’s an American, but the Japanese wouldn’t know it by the look of him. And that’s exactly what the US government is counting on.
    Because he speaks both English and Japanese perfectly, the army recruits Zenji for a top-secret mission to spy on the Japanese. If they discover his true identity, he’ll be treated as a traitor and executed on the spot.
    As World War II boils over in the Pacific, Zenji is caught behind enemy lines. But even though his Japanese heritage is his death warrant, it’s also his key to outwitting the enemy and finding the strength to face the terrors of battle,...


  • From the book Zenji Watanabe was in the middle of an early-morning daydream as he walked to his job at Honolulu Harbor. He was trying to imagine himself as a Buddhist priest like his teachers at Japanese school when a rat leaped out of a garbage can just ahead, sending the metal lid clanging to the sidewalk.

    He jumped back and adjusted his glasses. "Crazy rat!"

    Late for work, he was cutting through Chinatown, hoping he could make it without any trouble.

    But the rat changed that.

    Three Chinese guys sitting on their heels two blocks down looked his way.

    "Oh, man," Zenji whispered.

    It was August 1941, and in Honolulu tensions between the Chinese and Japanese had risen like fire-spewing dragons because of what had happened in Nanking, China. In 1937, the Imperial Japanese Army killed over a hundred thousand innocent Chinese civilians. Maybe even more. To Zenji it was a tragedy. But some patriotic Japanese immigrants had publicly cheered Japan's success. Anger at Japan still smoldered in Chinatown.

    The three guys were about his age, seventeen. They seemed as surprised to see him as he was to see them.

    One guy had hair that hung past his shoulders. "Hey!" He sprang to his feet.

    The others got up, shooting Zenji dirty looks.

    Zenji pretended not to see them, and turned casually down the street to his left. The second he was out of sight, he ran.

    Hide—an open door, a dark alley, a low window!


    He spotted a rusted fire escape and climbed it, hoping it would hold. One floor up, he punched through a window screen and tumbled into somebody's bedroom.

    He scrambled to his feet and glanced around.

    Empty . . . except for the biggest bed he'd ever seen. And a dresser with a huge mirror, a red velvet chair, a nightstand with a frilly lamp.

    A hotel?

    He edged back up to the window and peeked out. Long-hair guy ran into view.

    Zenji stepped back.

    "Man," he whispered. "Now what?"

    What would his teacher-priests do in this mess? They believed that if you had compassion for people in your heart, everything would turn out well. Zenji wasn't so sure about that.

    He decided they'd do one of two things: use kendo, their swordsmanship with bamboo sticks, or stand firm and peacefully face the problem.

    Zenji didn't know kendo.

    Someone in the street shouted, "He's here! I smell um."

    The bedroom door flew open and slammed against the wall. A Chinese man the size of a garbage truck stood in the doorway with a baseball bat. He looked hard at Zenji and quickly took in every corner of the room.

    Zenji staggered back. "It's not what you think, mister."

    The big man pointed the bat at him as he came into the room, circling to his right, his eyes never leaving Zenji.

    "I didn't mean to break in. . . . Some guys down on the street chased me. I was just walking to my job."

    The man moved close enough to hammer Zenji's brains to mush.

    Zenji put his palms out, trying to stop him. "I . . . I just got a job at the harbor, and—"

    "You know what this place is?" the man snapped. "You really want to bus' in here? What's your name?"

    Zenji looked for a way out. There wasn't one. "Zenji . . . Watanabe."

    The big man studied him, then lowered the bat.

    He stepped over to the window and looked out. "I don't see nobody."

    "They're out there. Three of them. I didn't do anything to them."

    The big man grunted. "You Japanee, that's what you did. Come. You gotta get out of Chinatown. Stupid to come here."

    Zenji followed him down the hall. Four young women stuck...

About the Author-

  • Graham Salisbury’s family has lived in the Hawaiian Islands since the early 1800s. He grew up on Oahu and Hawaii and graduated from California State University. He received an MFA from Vermont College of Norwich University, where he was a member of the founding faculty of the MFA program in writing for children. He lives with his family in Portland, Oregon.
       Graham Salisbury’s books have won many prizes. Blue Skin of the Sea won the Bank Street Child Study Association Children’s Book Award; Under the Blood-Red Sun won the Scott O’Dell Award for Historical Fiction, the Oregon Book Award, Hawaii’s Nene Award, and the California Young Reader Medal; Shark Bait won the Oregon Book Award and a Parents’ Choice Silver Honor; Lord of the Deep won the Boston Globe–Horn Book Award. He has also written the Calvin Coconut series for younger readers. 
       Graham Salisbury is a recipient of the John Unterecker Award for Fiction and the PEN/Norma Klein Award. Visit him online at grahamsalisbury.com.


  • Kirkus

    Starred review from September 1, 2014
    A novel that begins before Pearl Harbor sends a Japanese-American teen on a top-secret mission to the Philippines. Born in Hawaii of Japanese parents, 17-year-old Zenji Watanabe is fluent in English and Japanese. In August 1941, his high school ROTC commander recruits him for the U.S. Army Corps of Intelligence Police, and he is sent to Manila to mingle with Japanese businessmen and collect information. When the Japanese army invades, Zenji is taken prisoner. Steadfastly maintaining his cover as a civilian, he refuses to admit that he is the Bamboo Rat, his cover name, and is tortured by the Japanese secret police. He eventually finds himself working for a Japanese colonel as a translator and houseboy and is able to use the position to help the Filipino underground. When the U.S. forces return, he escapes into the jungle, surviving despite a wound and starvation so extreme that he eats raw rat. His strength derives from his love of family and country coupled with his belief in honor, courage and forgiveness. Salisbury has once again crafted a fine novel, based on an actual person, about first-generation Americans of Japanese descent and the clash of culture and national identity that World War II accentuated. Written in short, rapid-fire paragraphs that move the plot along at a brisk pace, the story will leave readers spellbound. A gripping saga of wartime survival. (maps, author's note, glossary, resources) (Historical fiction. 13-18)

    COPYRIGHT(2014) Kirkus Reviews, ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.

  • School Library Journal

    September 1, 2014

    Gr 5 Up-Zenji Watanabe is Nisei, an American with Japanese parents, living in Honolulu on the eve of World War II. As tensions are rising between his parents' homeland and his own, his old ROTC commander offers him secret work away from his home that will utilize his particular language skills. This title is a welcome new angle in historical fiction on the Japanese-American experience during the war, and it is based on a true story. Geared toward middle grade readers, Salisbury is careful not to linger on the more unpleasant and violent aspects of Zenji's time as a POW. Fast-paced and compelling, this title will be enjoyed by voracious and reluctant readers.-L. Lee Butler, Stoughton High School, MA

    Copyright 2014 School Library Journal, LLC Used with permission.

  • Booklist

    September 15, 2014
    Grades 7-10 Zenji Watanabe, 17, is a first-generation Japanese-American living in Hawaii. Based on the story of real-life figure Richard Sakakida, this chronicle introduces readers to the life of a young Japanese American just as Japan and America are becoming combatants in WWII. Zenji's perfect Japanese and English make him a valuable asset, and he is suddenly recruited as a special undercover agent in the U.S. Army Corps of Intelligence Police. Salisbury grew up in Hawaii, and he tells the dangerous tale of Zenji's four-year mission in sharp detail. Throughout, Zenji proves himself to be thoughtful and, important for his ancient cultural heritage, honorable. Fans of Salisbury's other titles in the Prisoners of the Empire historical fiction series will relish the suspense that he skillfully develops and resolves. Give this also to readers who enjoy movies like Argo.(Reprinted with permission of Booklist, copyright 2014, American Library Association.)

  • Horn Book Review "...the history is fascinating, and Zenji is a fictional hero readers will long remember."

Title Information+

  • Publisher
    Random House Children's Books
  • Kindle Book
    Release date:
  • OverDrive Read
    Release date:
  • EPUB eBook
    Release date:

Digital Rights Information+

  • Copyright Protection (DRM) required by the Publisher may be applied to this title to limit or prohibit printing or copying. File sharing or redistribution is prohibited. Your rights to access this material expire at the end of the lending period. Please see Important Notice about Copyrighted Materials for terms applicable to this content.

You've reached your checkout limit.

Visit your Checkouts page to manage your titles.


You already have this title checked out.

Want to go to your Checkouts?


Recommendation Limit Reached.

You have reached the maximum number of titles you are allowed to recommend at this time. You can recommend up to 4 titles every 1 days.


Sign in to recommend this title.

Recommend this title for your digital library.


Enhanced Details:


Limited availability

Availability can change throughout the month based on the library's budget.

is available for days.

Once playback starts, you have hours to view the title.




There are no copies of this issue left to borrow. Please try to borrow this title again when a new issue is released.


The OverDrive Read format of this eBook has professional narration that plays while you read in your browser. Learn more here.



Total holds:



Some format options have been disabled. You may see additional download options outside of this network.


MP3 audiobooks are only supported on macOS 10.6 (Snow Leopard) through 10.14 (Mojave). Learn more about MP3 audiobook support on Macs.


Please update to the latest version of the OverDrive app to stream videos.


You've reached your library's checkout limit for digital titles.

To make room for more checkouts, you may be able to return titles from your Checkouts page.


Excessive Checkout Limit Reached.

There have been too many titles checked out and returned by your account within a short period of time.

Try again in several days. If you are still not able to check out titles after 7 days, please contact Support.


You have already checked out this title. To access it, return to your Checkouts page.


This title is not available for your card type. If you think this is an error contact support.


An unexpected error has occurred.

If this problem persists, please contact support.



NOTE: Barnes and Noble® may change this list of devices at any time.

Recommend this title for your digital library
Hunt for the Bamboo Rat
Hunt for the Bamboo Rat
Graham Salisbury
Buy it now
and support our digital library!
Hunt for the Bamboo Rat
Hunt for the Bamboo Rat
Graham Salisbury
A portion of your purchase goes to support your digital library.
Barnes & Noble Sign In |   Sign In

The first time you select “Send to NOOK,” you will be taken to a Barnes & Noble page to sign into (or create) your NOOK account. You should only have to sign into your NOOK account once to link it to your library account. After this one-time step, periodicals will be automatically sent to your NOOK account when you select "Send to NOOK."

You can read periodicals on any NOOK tablet or in the free NOOK reading app for iOS, Android or Windows 8.

Accept to ContinueCancel

Sora Turbo
Get the app!
Apple App Store
Google Play Store
Brought to you by Barrington High School, and built with 💕 by OverDrive.

Renewing this title won't extend your lending period. Instead, it will let you borrow the title again immediately after your first lending period expires.


You can't renew this title because there are holds on it. However, you can join the holds list and be notified when it becomes available for you to borrow again.