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My Secret War: The World War II Diary of Madeline Beck, Long Island, New York 1941 (Dear America Series) Hardcover – September 1, 2000

4.6 out of 5 stars 70 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From School Library Journal

Grade 4-7-Maddie Beck, 13, lives with her mother in a Long Island boardinghouse while her lieutenant-commander father is stationed in the Pacific. Her mother rapidly fits in to their new community, but Maddie finds it difficult to make friends, until classmate (and crush) Johnny Vecchio learns that her father is in the Navy. After the Japanese bomb Pearl Harbor, Maddie and Johnny organize a student group to sell war bonds, gather scrap metal, collect newspapers and used books, and make first-aid kits for the Red Cross. One restless night, Maddie takes a walk on the beach and encounters someone with a heavy accent and another threatening character. This night leads to more mysterious events that finally prompt her to call the FBI, which leads to the arrest of four Nazi agents. Then the Becks get a telegram that Maddie's father has been injured, and they prepare to move to San Francisco where he is to be hospitalized. Osborne has done an excellent job of capturing the feelings and anxieties of the time coupled with the concerns and uncertainties of young people. An excellent companion novel to Carolyn Reeder's Foster's War (Scholastic, 1998; o.p.).
Debbie Feulner, Northwest Middle School, Greensboro, NC
Copyright 2000 Reed Business Information, Inc.

From Booklist

Gr. 5-9. Set in 1941, this title in the Dear America series features Madeline Beck, an eighth-grader adjusting to a new life in Long Island, New York. She longs for acceptance among her schoolmates and misses her father, a soldier stationed on the West Coast. Starting a club to aid the war effort helps, bringing personal pride, friendships, even romance into her life. Things become complicated, however, when she accidentally witnesses a suspicious beach rendezvous. As with many others in this series, the diary format mixes fact and fiction in a way that may confuse some readers, and the historical note at the back of the book skims the complex issues of the war. But the period details are fascinating--from references to songs and fashions to newspaper headlines and quotes from Roosevelt--and lively, complex Madeline deals with timeless teen dilemmas as she learns the importance of appreciating differences. A fast, engaging read that offers a glimpse into wartime America, especially the war's impact on teens. Shelle Rosenfeld
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved
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Product Details

  • Age Range: 9 - 12 years
  • Lexile Measure: 740L (What's this?)
  • Hardcover: 190 pages
  • Publisher: Scholastic Inc.; First Edition edition (September 1, 2000)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0590687158
  • ISBN-13: 978-0590687157
  • Product Dimensions: 7.9 x 5.4 x 0.7 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.6 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (70 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #267,140 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By Rebecca Herman HALL OF FAMEVINE VOICE on July 1, 2000
Format: Hardcover
After her father goes to fight on an aircraft carrier in the Pacific in the fall of 1941, thirteen-year-old Madeline Beck and her mother move to a boardinghouse in Long Island. At first Madeline is lonely because the popular kids snub her. But Johnny, a boy in her class, befriends her - and eventually becomes more than just a friend. The two of them start a club for kids who want to help the war effort, but Madeline quits when she learns her father was wounded in battle - she's just to depressed to do much of anything. In her despair, she breaks the rules and wanders onto the beach one dark night, where she discovers some mysterious going-ons, and she is determined to investigate. The story is told through Madeline's diary entries from September 1941 to July 1942. Although this is not the best book from the Dear America series, it is excellant, and I highly reccomend it to fans.
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A Kid's Review on October 22, 2000
Format: Hardcover
My Secret War is about a girl named Madeline but known as Maddie from friends. Madeline is a young girl who befriends a Clara, a Jewish and German immigrant, Theo, Clara's lover, and Johnny, her boyfriend or just pals. Maddie's father went to World War 2 to battle against the Germans (Nazis), and the Japanese. Maddie joins this club with Johnny and investigates shocking things about the Japanese and the Nazis and tries to help America win World War 2. But when her father had been wounded Maddie's life turned up-side-down so she quit the club and being lonely in her dark,lonesome room, thinking. And she later just moves on with her life. I highly recommend you to read this book. Mrs. Osborne has done a wonderful job on this book.
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Format: Hardcover
My Secret War (World War II) / 0-590-68715-8

"My Secret War" paints a wonderful portrait of America in 1941. Madeline cultivates a close friendship with her German-Jewish neighbors, and learns to tread respectfully around the fear and sadness they harbor. She is distraught when she learns of the Japanese-American citizens put in American camps for 'observation' and reminds her classmates to take seriously the meaning behind the president's wife's exhortation to not allow America to be divided by race or religion. Madeline organizes a club to collect scrap, metal, and stockings for the war effort, and tries to diligently answer her father's letters, hoping that a telegram won't arrive with news of his injury or death.

Madeline is, in many ways, a perfectly ordinary girl. She frets that the pretty girls at school don't acknowledge her. She crushes on her young boy friend, regaling him with tales of her father's bravery and heroism, but sometimes worrying that if he starts to like her in "that way" then she suddenly won't be free to be herself anymore. She is relieved when she finds that she can be a "girlfriend" AND a "girl friend" without having to sacrifice her personality or free spirit.

"My Secret War" takes a long and intriguing look at a different aspect of World War II - those who stayed behind in America. The women who joined factory jobs; the girls who initiated scrap metal drives and stocking collections. The children who lived knowing that fathers and brothers might not be homing home. The people who had to chose whether to fear or love their new European refugee neighbors and their old Japanese-American neighbors, and the sad consequences when the wrong choice was made. Through all this, fictional Madeline is strong, vibrant, and touchingly realistic.

~ Ana Mardoll
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Format: Hardcover
It's way too mushy. Every other page, she's hanging all over this guy.

I'm a girl and I definitely act like a girl, but not all girls hang all over guys all the time.

I would recommend this book for someone in their teens, little girls might find this "gross".

Other than that, the story developed nicely, there was a nice plot, and a nice twist at the end. That alone made it worth reading.

However, because of course language and all that romance, I give it a 2 star rating.
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By A Customer on September 18, 2001
Format: Hardcover
Madeline Beck is a 13 year old 8th grader, who lives in Long Island, New York. Her father is an air pilot in the navy, and she is somewhat of an outcast, who is snubbed by her classmates for no reason (although she thinks it's because of her clothes, hair and the gap between her teeth). Madeline is friends with Johnny, a boy who is fascinated by both Madeline and her fathers line of work. Madeline and Johnny become good friends (a little more than friends too) and soon organize a club for kids who want to help out during the war.
Madeline soon finds that there are people with strange accents following her (one who almost runs her over), ever since she walked along the beach one night and was found by the Coast Guard. Johnny and Mad (Madeline) soon tip off the FBI, and help to catch Nazi's. Not only that Mad's dad comes back from the war after being injured, and Mad and her mother have to move to San Francisco to be with him.
This was an excellent book, and I think that every kid should read it.
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By A Customer on March 14, 2001
Format: Hardcover
Forget about the "old-school" history books. Welcome to the new breed of educational books suited for kids 11-yo and up. In "My Secret War, The World War 2 Diary of Madeline Beck" the author -Mary Osborne- does a splendid job of portraying a young girl who is struggling with everyday issues while her father is off fighting at sea. With her father as her inspiration "Maddie" tries to head up her own homefront war by supporting America's men off fighting the war by doing a number of activities. For a while, Maddie is doing good supporting the war, but soon she finds out that not all battles are fought on foriegn turf. Buy this book to learn more about a crucial time in history through the eyes of an girl.
Though I would recommend you buying this book, it does come with faculties. Maddie Beck's stint with romance was unneeded and at times Maddie's actions proved a little too immature for a 13 year old. Also, it lacks the same appeal to boys as it does for girls.
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