Thursday, August 23, 2012

Dear America: My Secret War

Hello again,
And life has gotten in the way again.  I apologize for being late again with this post, but the last couple weeks have been pretty hectic.  They included a couple of doctor's appointments, an unexpected trip out of town for a funeral, and many other little problems.  But I hope you enjoy this book.  I have one more "Dear America" book after this one (there are several more, but I don't have them).

Title:  My Secret War:  The World War II Diary of Madeline Beck
Author:  Mary Pope Osborne
Setting:  Long Island, New York, 1941
Target Audience:  Junior high
Independent Reading Level:  8th

Summary:  Madeline and her mother recently moved into a boarding house in Long Island.  Her father is on an aircraft carrier somewhere in the Pacific Ocean.  The story begins in late September of 1941, as Madeline is having trouble in her new school.  American warships are protecting merchant ships (since they are being attacked by German submarines), but America has not yet entered the war.  The book continues as Pearl Harbor is attacked, and America enters the war.  Madeline starts a club so that local kids can help with the war effort by doing things such as collecting scrap metal.  Madeline has to deal with many problems, including worry about her father, the other residents in the house, and other girls at school who do not want to include her.  As the book ends, Madeline must leave her new friends and begin life in a new city again. 

Review:  The book does cover a sensitive topic--war, but I think Osborne does so in a good manner.  As with other Dear America books, historical information is included about the era.  Madeline's worry about her father is often evident, but Osborne balances this with real life often distracting her from writing letters to her father.  I think this is a good book to expose young adults to World War II.
**** 4 stars

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

A Time for Courage

Title:  A Time for Courage
Author:  Kathryn Lasky
Target Audience:  Upper Elementary
Independent Reading Level:  5th grade
Setting:  Washington, DC 1917, Women's Suffragette Movement and WWI

Summary:  Kathleen Bowen is given a diary by her mother for Christmas.  At first, she thinks her life is too boring to write about.  But as women petition and picket to gain the right to vote and America enters the Great War, she soon finds quite a bit to write about in her life and that of her family. 

Review:  Kathleen is like most girls her age.  As she writes, she worries about school, her mother's participation in the movement for women's right to vote, and the possibility of her father's going to war.  Kathleen's character is dynamic--by the end of the book, she is more focused on others than at the beginning of the book.  More focus is given to the women's suffrage movement than to the war, but some people Kathleen knows are involved in helping wounded soldiers and that part of the war is described.  As with the other books in the Dear America series, a historical note and pictures are included at the end of the book describing actual events and people of the time.  Also, the book is interesting as well as educational.
**** 4 stars