Grade 2-5 The author of The Greatest Skating Race (S & S, 2004) has teamed up with Parker to produce a successful and moving piece of historical fiction. This story is told as an American girl's reminiscence of her experiences during World War II. Molly's much-admired neighbor, navy man Ted Walker, is serving on a submarine in the Pacific, but to her, Orchard Road seemed the safest place on earth, and the war...well, the war was something far away. The text is deceptively simple and understated. Borden evokes the era through small details, word choices, and descriptions of everyday activities, such as building a snowman, the first day of school, writing letters to Ted, and spending summer days on the porch drinking lemonade and listening to baseball games on the radio. The war remains distant until the fateful telegram arrives. Parker alternates scenes of Molly's life with images of Ted on the USS Albacore. The artist's characteristic loose-lined ink-and-watercolor paintings capture the sense of a once-secure and orderly world becoming less stable. The lyrical prose and evocative pictures create a poignant slice-of-life tale that resonates with the emotions of the friends and family members on the homefront. The story will provide a human perspective to nonfiction accounts and may also touch a chord with children who have loved ones serving abroad. Heide Piehler, Shorewood Public Library, WI
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*Starred Review* Gr. 3-5. In this fully illustrated, fictional memoir, a woman, Molly, recalls her childhood war years on the American home front. World War II seems far away to Molly, but her fourth-grade teacher brings it close by painting an enormous map on the wall so that the class can follow its progress, and asking the children to write letters to the servicemen. Molly writes to her next-door neighbor Ted, a friendly young man on a submarine in the Pacific. Unfortunately, Ted does not come home, but the war ends and life goes on. Beautifully written in an understated tone, the story offers a believable picture of life during the war. Tangible details of everyday activities make the arrival of the telegram relaying Ted's death and the reactions of his family and friends all the more poignant. A typical page of text, formed into free-verse stanzas, faces a full-page watercolor painting illustrating a scene in the children's school or neighborhood or, in a few instances, showing a submarine in the Pacific. Restrained yet expressive, the artwork conveys moods and mindsets as well as a strong sense of the time and place. The relatively short, graceful text and the evocative art offer an effective introduction to the period and to the profound effects that even a faraway war can have on those at home. Carolyn Phelan
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