All Thirteen: The Incredible Cave Rescue of the Thai Boys’ Soccer Team

All Thirteen: The Incredible Cave Rescue of the Thai Boys’ Soccer Team

By Christina Soontornvat (Candlewick Press)
  • Non-fiction
  • Set in Thailand

Keywords: adventure, survival, religion, sports

A unique account of the amazing Thai cave rescue told in a heart-racing, you-are-there style that blends suspense, science, and cultural insight.

On June 23, 2018, twelve young players of the Wild Boars soccer team and their coach enter a cave in northern Thailand seeking an afternoon’s adventure. But when they turn to leave, rising floodwaters block their path out. The boys are trapped! Before long, news of the missing team spreads, launching a seventeen-day rescue operation involving thousands of rescuers from around the globe. As the world sits vigil, people begin to wonder: how long can a group of ordinary kids survive in complete darkness, with no food or clean water? Luckily, the Wild Boars are a very extraordinary “ordinary” group. Combining firsthand interviews of rescue workers with in-depth science and details of the region’s culture and religion, author Christina Soontornvat—who was visiting family in Northern Thailand when the Wild Boars went missing—masterfully shows how both the complex engineering operation above ground and the mental struggles of the thirteen young people below proved critical in the life-or-death mission. Meticulously researched and generously illustrated with photographs, this page-turner includes an author’s note describing her experience meeting the team, detailed source notes, and a bibliography to fully immerse readers in the most ambitious cave rescue in history.

Curriculum Connections PDF

Reading Level- 5.9           Lexile- 1020
Dewey- 796.52                Accelerated Reader 7.2
A 2021 Newbery Honor Book
A 2021 Robert F. Sibert Honor Book
A 2021 YALSA Award for Excellence in Nonfiction for Young Adults Finalist

Summary: This non-fiction book is about a group of Thai soccer players who go with their coach to explore a local cave and become trapped inside. The book focuses on the decisions the boys make in their efforts to escape as well as rescue efforts undertaken above ground as time is running out for their safe rescue.

Vocabulary: (All Vocabulary definitions are from

  1. Stalagmite – a deposit, usually of calcium carbonate, more or less resembling an inverted stalactite, formed on the floor of a cave or the like by the dripping of percolating calcareous water.
  2. Stalactite – Rock structures formed on the ceilings of caves as water drips down, leaving behind minerals before it falls.
  3. Turbulent – being in a state of agitation or tumult; disturbed, characterized by, or showing disturbance, disorder, etc.
  4. Scuba – a portable breathing device for free-swimming divers, consisting of a mouthpiece joined by hoses to one or two tanks of compressed air that are strapped on the back. (SCUBA- self-contained underwater breathing apparatus)
  5. Eddying – a current at variance with the main current in a stream of liquid or gas, especially one having a rotary or whirling motion. 
  6. Malnourished – poorly or improperly nourished; suffering from malnutrition.
  7. Buoyancy – the power of supporting a body so that it floats; upward pressure exerted by the fluid in which a body is immersed.
  8. Neoprene– an oil-resistant synthetic rubber used chiefly in paints, putties, linings for tanks and chemical apparatus, and in sportswear and crepe soles for shoes.
  9. Monsoon– the seasonal wind and rain of the Indian Ocean and southern Asia, blowing from the southwest in summer and from the northeast in winter.

Universal Theme:  The universal theme of this book is about the sharing of experiences to prevent future repetition of history.

Literature Themes 

  • Fear of the Unknown
  • Facing Darkness
  • Power of Tradition
  • Darkness and Light
  • Everlasting Bond
  • Determination

Higher Level Questioning:

REMEMBER (Level 1) Recognizing and recalling

  1. List the main events that happen in the story in order from beginning to end.
  2. How many boys were trapped inside the cave Tham Luang?
  3. Describe what happens when the boys and their coach try to find their way out of the cave.
  4. What did coach Ek tell the boys to do when he tugged on the rope twice as he was trying to swim to find a way out of the cave?
  5. Why did the boys drink the water from the side of the cave walls instead of the rising waters?

UNDERSTAND (Level 2) Interpreting, exemplifying, classifying, summarizing, inferring, comparing, explaining

  1. How would you describe the importance of coach Ek always remaining calm?
  2. Compare and contrast dangers of diving in open water compared to diving in a cave.

  1. How would you describe the change in conditions in the cave from when the boys entered to when they left?
  2. What can you infer about the boys’ lives that, after being stuck in a cave without food for ten days in the dark, they still had positive attitudes?
  3. What would happen if the boys did not remain positive?

APPLY (Level 3) Executing and implementing

  1. What examples can you find about how the boys conserved their energy while in the cave?
  2. How would you develop a plan of what you could possibly do to get the boys out of the cave?
  3. How would you modify their rescue plan?
  4. What examples can you find that prove that the boys had complete trust and faith in their rescuers?
  5. Why does the rescue work so well?  What was the most important thing the rescue team did to the boys?

ANALYZE (Level 4) Differentiating, organizing, attributing

  1. How would you explain the significance of the fact that the famous monk, Kruba Boonchum, came and told the boys’ families that they will be safe?
  2. How can you compare the bond that the Thai boys had with coach Ek compared to a coach, teacher, or mentor you have had?
  3. What were the pros and cons of the following rescue ideas: (a) drill into the mountain, (b) suck the water out with pumps, and (c) look for alternative entrances?
  4. Why do you think the rescuers were so afraid to bring the boys back if they were not sedated?
  5. What evidence in the text can you find that explains the bond that the team of boys have with each other and with their coach?

EVALUATE (Level 5) Checking and critiquing

  1. What would happen if the boys panicked during the water rescue?
  2. What could you invent to get the boys out of the cave safely?
  3. What facts can you gather about the effects hypothermia has on a body?
  4. What alternative method could you suggest the boys do to keep warm?
  5. Predict the outcome if they did not sedate the boys when rescuing them.

CREATE (Level 6) Generating, planning, producing

  1. What is the most unusual thing you learned about caves?
  2. What choice would you make if you were one of the expert divers? Would you risk your life even though conditions were bad?
  3. What is the most important lesson in this story? Why?
  4. What choice would you have made about which boy should be rescued first if you were coach Ek?
  5. What is your opinion of whether or not you would sedate the boys when being rescued? Support your response.


  1. Have students create a survival plan if they were stuck in a cave.
  2. Have students calculate the distance between Thailand and their home.
  3. Have the students write a diary entry as if they were one of the soccer players stuck in the cave.
  4. Have students create posters about cave danger.
  5. Have students research Thailand flooding during the rainy season and have them find out how it affects the locals’ lives.
  6. Have students research Thai culture listing some differences between their culture and ours.

Research websites:



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Author: Meredith Lesney, Middle School Librarian/Author

April 2022

Candlewick Press Teacher’s Guide


A 2021 Newbery Honor Book

A 2021 Robert F. Sibert Honor Book

A 2021 YALSA Award for Excellence in Nonfiction for Young Adults Finalist