Endgame: The Secret Force 136

(13 customer reviews)

By Catherine Little
Illustrated by Sean Huang


In Endgame: The Secret Force 136 Alex’s imagination takes him to medieval Chinese battlefields as he learns to play Xiangqi (Chinese chess) with his great-grandfather, Tai Gong. In the months that they spend over the chessboard, Alex comes to understand the important strategies that guided Tai Gong and his decisions as he navigated life as a Chinese Canadian in an anti-Asian era in Canada. In the process, Alex learns about the mysterious Force 136 and the sacrifices its members made to show their loyalty to a country that had utterly disregarded them.

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ISBN: 9781738898244 Category:


Catherine Little is an educator, consultant and writer living in Toronto, Ontario with her husband and son. She has a passion for picture books and often used them in the classroom to enhance her mathematics, science and history lessons. She wrote Endgame: The Secret Force 136 after learning about the force's existence just a few years ago and envisioned a book that could help more families learn of this little-known chapter in Canadian history.

Sean Huang is an artist and illustrator from Regina, Saskatchewan. From the time Sean was young, his father, artist Zhong-Yang Huang, encouraged his passion for art. Art has become for Sean, a means of expression, and a way of life. He has exhibited widely across Canada and China, and his paintings can be found in many private and corporate collections. His first book was Astonishing Legacy: Shoe Fantasia.

Additional information

Weight .36 kg
Dimensions 10.5 × 8 × 0.2 cm

Trade, 8" X 10", 32 pages

13 reviews for Endgame: The Secret Force 136

  1. Elton Yuen and Bill Brydon

    Endgame: The Secret Force 136 is a valid and praiseworthy use of Xiangqi. The story and message are deeply touching. This is an important book for all children and for the Chinese community, illuminating a little known chapter of Canadian history.”

    – Elton Yuen and Bill Brydon, Toronto Xiangqi Association

  2. Rebekah Qu

    “Endgame is a captivating children’s picture book that skillfully intertwines the remarkable story of Canada’s Secret Force 136 with the heartwarming tale of a great-grandfather imparting his knowledge of Xiangqi, the Chinese chess game, to his eager great-grandson, Alex.”

    – Rebekah Qu, Asian Stories Library

  3. Arlene Chan

    This stunning picture book pays tribute to Tai Gong, Alex’s great-grandfather. Catherine Little’s narrative and Sean Huang’s illustrations conjure up a heartwarming tale against the backdrop of the present day in chess-game strategies, the past that reveals Tai Gong’s deep secret during the Second World War, and the future in lessons learned. This book is as informative for adults as it is for children.

    – Arlene Chan, Author and Chinatown Historian

  4. Steven Hu

    Endgame is a captivating blend of art, history, and literature that beautifully illuminates the remarkable story of Force 136—a relatively unknown but crucial part of Canada’s History. Through its engaging narrative and vivid illustrations, this picture book offers young Canadians a unique opportunity to learn and appreciate the courageous contributions and sacrifices made by previous generations to our country. By highlighting the story of Force 136, young readers will gain a deeper understanding of the Chinese diaspora’s role in shaping Canada’s history and multicultural fabric, and be inspired by their bravery and resilience.

    – Steven Hu, Documentary Filmmaker (136: Canada’s Forgotten Soldiers),
    Canadian Forces Veteran

  5. Allan Hux

    Endgame: The Secret Force 136 is an excellent springboard into social studies and history, including grade 10 history where World War II is part of the curriculum. The way Tai Gong shares his Force 136 story with his great-grandson Alex is wonderful and the way that it is woven around Xiangqi, the elephant chess board game, is very entertaining. For younger students, Endgame introduces a little known chapter in Canadian history. For older students, Endgame could serve as an introduction to the Pacific theatre which is often overlooked.

    – Allan Hux, Past President, Ontario History, Humanities and Social Sciences Consultants’ Association, Program Coordinator (retired), Social and World Studies and the Humanities, grades 1-12, Toronto District School Board

  6. Keith Lock

    A wonderfully written and illustrated children’s book. “Endgame: The Secret Force 136” tells a true story from Chinese Canadian history that is largely unknown, and needs to be told.

    – Keith Lock, Award winning Writer / Director

  7. Kelvin Louie

    I have to admit I know almost nothing of my father’s experiences as a member of Force 136. He did not speak of them with me and I get it…fighting in a war is not something you want to talk about. The only things he did tell me about were the snakes, crocodiles and monkeys he encountered in the jungles of Malaysia and Burma. That’s why a book like Endgame: The Secret Force 136 is so important. I applaud Catherine Little and Sean Huang for bringing this painful and meaningful part of Canadian history to life so it is not forgotten. They do a remarkable job of simplifying this aspect of the Chinese Canadian contribution to World War II at the same time as capturing the imagination of a younger audience and giving the adults in their lives multiple ways to discuss this painful part of our history.

    – Kelvin Louie, son of Force 136 Veteran Ernie Louie

  8. Chris Madsen

    Endgame is wonderfully narrated and illustrated book geared toward a juvenile audience that brings into focus a unique Chinese Canadian contribution to the Second World War, the discrimination faced at home by this community, and the strides made since then in terms of equality and respect. Set in the inter-generational exchange between a grandson and grandfather, the playing of Xiangqi, or Chinese chess, leads to reminiscences and revelations about participation in Force 136, a part of the Special Operations Executive responsible for covert and secret training missions into the Japanese-held territories of Asia to disrupt through guerrilla warfare. The text and illustrations bring to life the human dimensions of the barriers to recruitment, reasons for participation, and what it was like to live and survive in some of the most challenging environments of the world, in the face of disease, jungle, and enemy action. The words and stories of veterans from Force 136, in particular three from the same family, offer firsthand reflections. Many of them went on to have successful lives in a slightly more welcoming Canada postwar, and notably, British Columbia’s Douglas Jung became a well-regarded lawyer and Progressive Conservative Member of Parliament for an urban Vancouver riding, the first Chinese Canadian to sit in Centre Block. The book shares the largely unknown achievements of a previous generation in war and the peace afterwards in making Canada a better place in the world for all its citizens, regardless of background or ethnic make-up. Endgame’s easily accessible illustrated style reminds us at various levels – young and old, play and strategy, veteran and remembrance, as well as community and society – that the past holds value and understanding.

    – Chris Madsen, Professor, Department of Defence Studies,
    Canadian Forces College and Royal Military College of Canada

  9. Elvin Wingay

    For so long invisible, Endgame: Secret Force 136 brings out of the shadows a brief glimpse of the courageous and selfless contribution of a handful of Canadians who, despite the denial of certain birthrights, stepped forward to defend a thankless country. A young lad and his great grandfather share an afternoon and, through a game, illuminate how we stand on the shoulders of those who came before. The text and the artwork weave together well to tell this important story.

    – Elvin Wingay, nephew of Force 136 Veteran Edward Chow

  10. The Honourable Randall (Bud) Wong

    Endgame: The Secret Force 136 is an endearing story with vivid illustrations featuring a great grandfather teaching important life lessons to his young great grandson. The patriarch also reveals he was a member of Force 136, a World War II covert spy and commando outfit of Chinese Canadians in the Canadian army serving behind enemy lines in the Pacific Campaign. Despite suffering racial prejudice in Canada, 600 Chinese Canadians enlisted and served faithfully in Canada’s armed forces. At the end of World War II, the returning veterans’ credo was “One War, Two Victories”. One victory was defeating Canada’s enemies and the other victory was using moral suasion of their war service to persuade the Canadian Government to grant all Chinese Canadians full citizenship and the right to vote. This was successfully accomplished in 1948. Today all Chinese Canadians should continue to remember and to honour the service of Force 136 members and their other World War II comrades for the rights and benefits of Canadian citizenship we all enjoy today and generally take for granted. This story will help to keep their sacrifices and contributions alive in our memories.

    – The Honourable Randall (Bud) Wong, retired Justice of the BC Supreme Court and current President of the Chinese Canadian Military Museum Society of British Columbia

  11. Helen K, Canlit for Little Canadians

    “The illustration of Tai Gong’s hands and the photographs is so lifelike that it will be immediately familiar and evocative of age and nostalgia.”

    – Helen K, Canlit for Little Canadians

  12. Quill and Quire

    Endgame illustrates how learning about and understanding our families and cultural histories can help us to better navigate the world. It’s also a story about the importance of determination in the face of discrimination. The historical notes provide additional information that will support educators and parents to have conversations about the history of Chinese people and communities in Canada. Parents and educators can also use this book to talk to young readers about standing up for themselves and the central role that marginalized peoples often play in dismantling the discrimination they face.

  13. CBC Books

    Endgame: The Secret Force 136 is a picture book about a game of Chinese chess between Alex and his great-grandfather, Tai Gong, which turns into a meaningful conversation about Gong’s experiences in the Second World War. As his great grandfather describes the elusive task force he was in and the sacrifices his team made, Alex gains a new perspective on the anti-Asian hate his elders endured and what it means to be Chinese Canadian today.

    For more information on Endgame: The Secret Force 136 and holiday gift ideas, please see the link below:

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