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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

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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: 10.4 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (70 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #243,545 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Widely regarded among parents, teachers, and librarians for its power to instill a passion for reading, Mary Pope Osborne's award-winning Magic Tree House series is an international phenomenon and has sold more than 120 million books worldwide since its debut in 1992, and has been translated into 32 different languages in over 30 international markets. There are currently 51 Magic Tree House books and 28 Fact Trackers, the nonfiction companions to the fiction titles. All Magic Tree House books are available in print, as ebooks and Listening Library audio books, which are all narrated by Mary Pope Osborne. Visit for more information about the series, activities, and more.

The Magic Tree House Classroom Adventures Program is a free, comprehensive set of online educational resources for teachers developed by Mary Pope Osborne as gift to teachers, to thank them for their enthusiastic support of the series. Complete with lesson plans, curriculum guides, and creative activities, the Classroom Adventures Program incorporates every book in the series, including the nonfiction Fact Tracker titles, enabling teachers to build upon students' interest in Jack and Annie's adventures, while simultaneously meeting core curriculum standards across a multitude of subjects. Educators can learn more at

MARY POPE OSBORNE is an ardent advocate and supporter of children's literacy, and the award-winning author of more than 100 books for children and young adults, including novels, retellings of mythology and folklore, picture books, biographies, and mysteries. From 1993-1997, Ms. Osborne served as president of the Authors Guild, the country's leading organization for published authors. She has traveled extensively in the U.S. and abroad, visiting schools and speaking on issues related to children's literacy. She recently spoke at the UN regarding the importance of worldwide literacy and was profiled on NBC's Rock Center with Brian Williams for her continued efforts. Mary has donated over 250,000 books to children in need through her Gift of Books program. She resides in Connecticut. The creator of the Magic Tree House series, Ms. Osborne is also the coauthor of the companion Magic Tree House Fact Trackers series with her husband, WILL OSBORNE, and her sister, NATALIE POPE BOYCE.

Amazon Author Rankbeta 

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#73 in Books
#73 in Books

Customer Reviews

This is a great book for anyone who's into WW2.
I have read most of the Dear America books, and this is my favorite one by-far.
I won't spoil the book for you so to find out you will just have to read it!

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

32 of 33 people found the following review helpful 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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16 of 20 people found the following review helpful 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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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful 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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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By "cdmaurer" 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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9 of 12 people found the following review helpful By Melanie on December 12, 2000
Format: Hardcover
"My Secret War" was another good "Dear America" novel, though not the best in the series.
13 year-old Madeline Beck lives with her mother in New York during WWII, while her father is away fighting. She is lonely in her new home with out any friends, but then she has a great idea: she'll start a club for kids to help with the war! Through her soon popular club she makes friends and a boyfriend, and she's very happy - but then she hears that her father was wounded. Suddenly the war isn't exciting to her anymore, and in her sadness she begins to walk along the beach every night. Then she sees something important...
This was a good book, though not great, for several reasons. For one thing, Maddie acted younger than her age; I would have thought she was 11 or 12. Also, not many good descriptions were included, and her so-called romance was rather dumb and unnecessary. However, this book was worth reading, as it was quite exciting at times!
I'd recommend this book for ages 10 and up, and I'd also recommend "Behind the Bedroom Wall", another WWII book, as well as the other "Dear America" novels.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Green Marker Girl on January 30, 2006
Format: Hardcover
Maddy Beck, a young girl living during World War 2, is faced with her own personal problems in the face of the war. Her father is overseas, fighting for America. She and her mother therefore are forsed to move to into a "Seaside Manor", or boarding house, with a collection of unusual and quircky people. She sees herself as a silly, poor, gap-toothed girl, no friends and no talent. Until she meets Johnny, and is completely smitten, though she doesn't wish to admit it. The two create a bond, talking about the war almost all the time. But when they find unusual artifacts on the beach, they call the police, thinking they may be some how Nazi related. Maddie is repeatedly threatened, as she is almost run over by a dark car, and approached by a man walking down the street. Maddie is soon swept up in Pearl Harbor, just as swep up as she is with Johnny.

A very good book, written in easy language to me understood well, without taking away from the plot.
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