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Don't Forget, God Bless Our Troops Hardcover – June 5, 2012


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Product Details

  • Age Range: 5 - 8 years
  • Grade Level: Kindergarten - 3
  • Lexile Measure: 380L (What's this?)
  • Hardcover: 40 pages
  • Publisher: Simon & Schuster/Paula Wiseman Books; First Edition edition (June 5, 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 144245735X
  • ISBN-13: 978-1442457355
  • Product Dimensions: 10.1 x 10.2 x 0.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (18 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #125,758 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From School Library Journal

K-Gr 3–Natalie and her little brother, Hunter, spend the year of their father's deployment in Iraq missing him in a variety of ways. Pencil-and-watercolor illustrations support the gentle, wistful mood of this story based on the vice-presidential family's experience. The back matter offers solid, practical suggestions for supporting military families.α(c) Copyright 2013. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

Review

Second Lady Biden delivers a sensitive, non-political account of one family’s deployment.
“Does Daddy really have to go?” are the opening lines in this child’s view of deployment, and they are the first words many children say when their parents tell them of the long separation they are about to suffer. "Daddy is a soldier," is the honest answer Natalie has to process. As the seasons change with Daddy still abroad, the difficulty is obvious. Natalie has to be brave as she waits and waits. She is comforted by the support of her neighbors, the prayers of her church, a sensitive teacher, and playing with her “Daddy Dolls” (GI Joes); video chats with her dad are big events. Colón’s soft brush-and-scratch technique invites the youngest readers in, taking a bit of the edge off the sadness but never turning the story saccharine. Each family facing deployment is unique and faces its own challenges, but Biden nicely touches on the experiences that are common to every family: loneliness, fear, long months of boredom and the paradox that life goes on despite the absence. She wisely leaves out the truly difficult moments: the goodbye scenes, the possibility of injury or death, and the readjustment upon the soldier's return.
Teachers and counselors will reach for this often for the extensive, excellent resources in the backmatter as well as the story. (author's note) (Picture book. 4-8)
Kirkus Reviews, May 15, 2012

Jill Biden, illus. by Raúl Colón. S&S/Wiseman, $16.99 (40p) ISBN 978-1-4424-5735-5
Second lady of the United States Biden turns her family’s experiences into an earnest picture book that encourages support of those serving in the military and their families. Natalie (inspired by Biden’s granddaughter) misses her father desperately when he is deployed. “Soldiers have to do hard things sometimes,” her mother quietly reminds her. But waiting and worrying about her father, and trying to be a strong example for her younger brother, Hunter, are tough. The words “Be brave, Natalie” appear as a frequent refrain as Natalie, Hunter, Mommy, and Nana celebrate holidays and milestones, wishing Daddy could be with them. Packages, prayers, video chats, and kind gestures from friends and neighbors make things a little easier, but nothing can match the joy of the day when Daddy arrives home to his “brave, brave girl.” Colón captures the rhythms of everyday family life at school, church, and elsewhere in his textured, mixed-media compositions, depicting several tender moments of concern and love among family members. Biden also includes an author’s note, information about the military, and tips for how children and adults can reach out to military families. Ages 5–up.

--Publishers Weekly, May 14, 2012

Biden, wife of the vice president, watched for a year as her granddaughter, Natalie, dealt with the
deployment of her father to Iraq. Using Natalie’s experiences as a springboard, Biden chronicles what life
is like for a child with a parent fighting far from home. Natalie sits on her father’s lap as her mother
explains, “Soldiers have to do hard things sometimes.” So do their children. Natalie has to comfort her
mother and help her younger brother through missing his dad. But there are glimmers of light as well: on
video chat, she shows her father her loose tooth; the family sends care packages overseas; and she
befriends a girl whose parent is also deployed. Connecting each spread are the words, “Be brave, Natalie.”
Through both the sensitive text and the art, there is always the feel of time passing until, finally, Natalie’s
father comes home. As always, Colón’s scratchboard-style art, rendered in watercolor and colored pencil,
invites a closer look. Here readers will see how faith and community help military families. The excellent
back matter gives readers myriad ways that both adults and children can help military families in their own
communities.
HIGH-DEMAND BACKSTORY: The Second Lady will no doubt attract publicity, and plenty of it.
But even on its own, this book is so full of wonderful ways to help the troops that it is a must for libraries.
— Booklist

Some of us are more susceptible than others, but it’s not uncommon for picture book illustrations to give almost anyone — grown-ups even more perhaps than children — the goose bumps. And no one’s better at eliciting them than Raúl Colón (“Good-Bye, Havana! Hola, New York!,” “Angela and the Baby Jesus”). In “Don’t Forget, God Bless Our Troops,” his haunting image of a faded soldier standing outside an autumn window, as imagined by the daughter who awaits him at home, is nearly soaked in melancholy. “Daddy’s not here,” she thinks, “as she watches a red leaf drift past the window and out of sight.”

The girl in Colón’s picture is 5-year-old Natalie, who is worried and scared when her father is deployed abroad, leaving his family behind struggling to stay strong. She, her mother and her young brother, Hunter, go through the motions of Thanksgiving and the holidays without him. Whether attending church or losing a tooth or playing with toy soldiers, she is repeatedly urged, “Be brave, Natalie.”

“Don’t Forget, God Bless Our Troops” was written by Jill Biden, the wife of Vice President Joe Biden. Their son is a major in the Army National Guard. This direct emotional connection to the experience of military families permeates the earnest and heartfelt text. But it is Colón’s illustrations that make the small moments — Hunter brushing away a tear, Natalie kissing a photograph of her father in uniform — so deeply affecting.

-- The New York Times, online

Don't Forget, God Bless Our Troops.
Biden, Jill (Author) , Colon, Raul (Illustrator)
Jun 2012. 40 p. Simon & Schuster/Paula Wiseman, hardcover, $16.99. (9781442457355).

Biden, wife of the vice president, watched for a year as her granddaughter, Natalie, dealt with the
deployment of her father to Iraq. Using Natalie’s experiences as a springboard, Biden chronicles what life is like for a child with a parent fighting far from home. Natalie sits on her father’s lap as her mother
explains, “Soldiers have to do hard things sometimes.” So do their children. Natalie has to comfort her
mother and help her younger brother through missing his dad. But there are glimmers of light as well:on
video chat, she shows her father her loose tooth; the family sends care packages overseas; and she
befriends a girl whose parent is also deployed. Connecting each spread are the words, “Be brave, Natalie.” Through both the sensitive text and the art, there is always the feel of time passing until, finally, Natalie’s father comes home. As always, Colón’s scratchboard-style art, rendered in watercolor and colored pencil, invites a closer look. Here readers will see how faith and community help military families. The excellent back matter gives readers myriad ways that both adults and children can help military families in their own communities.

HIGH-DEMAND BACKSTORY:
The Second Lady will no doubt attract publicity, and plenty of it.
But even on its own, this book is so full of wonderful ways to help the troops that it is a must for libraries.


— Booklist, June 1, 2012

Biden takes inspiration from her own family in relating this story about a five-year-old girl coping with her father’s military deployment. Natalie goes to school, church, the swimming pool, etc., but each activity is underscored by her sadness and anxiety about her dad. The recurring phrase, “Be brave, Natalie,” reminds her that she has a responsibility of her own. The mom or dad is the heroic soldier, but the soldier’s families demonstrate courage as well. The illustrations, done in watercolor, colored pencil, and lithograph pencil, are vibrant and appealing. They capture the emotion of the story but also show that this situation is daily life for many people. The full-page or two-page pictures invite viewers into the frame; there are no borders as barriers to intimacy. While keeping the story at a child-appropriate level, Biden reaches out to military youngsters to help them understand their own feelings and increases awareness for all children about military families in their communities. Back matter provides practical ways to support these families.– School Library Journal

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Customer Reviews

I bought this book for my grandchildren.
picky lady
It gives a wonderful example of what families give up to be a part of our country's military.
C. Harmon
It will make a comforting bedtime story someday, if his own military father is deployed.
Sally A. Lengyel

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

6 of 7 people found the following review helpful By kindlefirewoman on June 7, 2012
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
As the mother of a 5 year old and the wife of a soldier currently deployed soldier, I found a lack of good quality books to help my daughter feel not so alone. This book does just that and more. Reading this book brought tears to my eyes, particularly when Natalie's mom wiped tears away when asked "Will Daddy be coming home?" while baking cookies for the holidays. We try to push through knowing that our soldiers are doing what they are called to do, but we also all have our moments.

Dr. Biden has once again showed military families that we are not alone, and sometimes you need to remind yourself to "Be Brave, Natalie"

Don't Forget, God Bless Our Troops
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5 of 6 people found the following review helpful By Phillyteacher on June 8, 2012
Format: Hardcover
I saw Jill Biden on tv and checked out the book -- the illustrations are very touching and the story is a compelling one. I plan to use it in my class (2nd graders) next year as a way to understand what the military experience is like for many Americans.
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4 of 5 people found the following review helpful By Millie on June 9, 2012
Format: Hardcover
As a librarian, I look at books from a slightly different and more critical viewpoint. Jill Biden's book is so well written - you can tell she has a small granddaughter and a son who serves in the military. Children of military families will relate to Natalie and Hunter. And Raul Colon has beautifully illustrated this story. I wouldn't be surprised if he doesn't win an illustration award.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By M.Q. on November 6, 2013
Format: Hardcover
My 4 year old's dad is deployed. I started to read her this book, which lines up great time-wise with his deployment. She started to cry about her daddy being gone. She was fine before I read it. I am not sure what I was thinking. So I tried to distract her with Cinderella which worked fine until Cinderella's dad dies in the story! This just created even more problems. I was so tired and wasn't thinking clearly, obviously, when these events transpired.

Maybe a good read before or while you are getting your child ready for an upcoming deployment but do not read it to them if they are already managing fine with plenty of distractions to keep their mind off their absent parent.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
As a former military brat myself, I loved buying this book for my 2-year-old grandson. It will make a comforting bedtime story someday, if his own military father is deployed. Dr. Biden shares a simple message: daddy is gone, it's okay to miss him, God protect him, and be brave until he returns.
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By Christina on December 7, 2013
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Love this book!! The kids can relate to the book perfect, hits home on what is really going on :)
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Format: Hardcover
Second lady Jill Biden has written a heart-warming, non-political book honoring the family members of those who serve in our military. Based on her granddaughter Natalie's own personal experience during her father's deployment (Biden's own son), this story portrays how a child is impacted when a parent is called to serve our country.

Five-year-old Natalie's father is deported for a year to serve overseas. She misses him dearly, but is reminded to stay brave for her family members. The sentence "Be brave, Natalie" is powerfully used throughout the story. Exemplified are the various emotions a child may experience while a parent is away serving overseas: sorrow, loneliness, boredom and fear of losing a loved one.

To help with her sorrow, Natalie sends her dad packages of baked goods she makes with her mom and her Nana. In addition, she sends her father artwork she has worked very hard on to make just perfect. The use of technology is exhibited when Natalie video chats with her father online when she shows him her loose tooth. The support of neighbors, church members and friends also help the child deal with her father being away.

The scratchboard style art by illustrator Raul Colon, compliment the story perfectly. The lithograph and colored penciled watercolors that have a soft-brush appearance, add a softness that offsets the character's sadness in the story. The pictures have a dreamlike quality that draw you in as Natalie is picturing her father overseas.

This book would be great for educators and counselors to have handy for children of military families. The happy ending gives a positive outlook to a family member being deployed.
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By Barb on May 6, 2013
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I was glad to get this book and see it truly supported the troops. I shared it with children in a military community and added to their library.
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