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On the Wings of Heroes Paperback – October 16, 2008


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Product Details

  • Age Range: 8 - 12 years
  • Grade Level: 3 - 7
  • Lexile Measure: 0730 (What's this?)
  • Paperback: 160 pages
  • Publisher: Puffin Books; Reprint edition (October 16, 2008)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 014241204X
  • ISBN-13: 978-0142412046
  • Product Dimensions: 5.1 x 0.4 x 7.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 4.8 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (35 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #515,508 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Starred Review. Peck (A Year Down Yonder) concocts another delicious mixture of humor, warmth and local color in this period piece, which describes America during WWII through the eyes of a Midwestern boy, Davy Bowman. The 1940s are a time of sacrifice for the Bowman family and a time of collecting for young Davy, who does his patriotic duty by gathering "whatever it took to win the war." Davy's search for scrap metal ("Five thousand tin cans will make a shell casing," his friend muses") leads him to mysterious Mr. Stonecypher, who lives in the oldest house in the neighborhood and who lost a son in another war. While hunting for milkweed ("for stuffing in life jackets, to keep shipwrecked sailors afloat"), Davy has his first run-in with old Miss Titus, a cantankerous woman, who ends up taking charge of his class during the teacher shortage ("We weren't used to a teacher who looked like a walnut with a mustache"). Throughout the novel, the author adroitly conveys how Davy's boundaries and horizons gradually expand, first beyond his neighborhood and finally overseas, when his brother is sent to Europe. First-person narrative brings the time period to life and vividly captures Davy's sentiments about the war and his family members, especially his father and brother, who are both heroes in Davy's mind. Chock full of eccentric characters and poignant moments, this coming-of-age novel will be embraced by children and grownups alike. Ages 10-up.
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.

From School Library Journal

Starred Review. Grade 4–8—In Davy Bowman's Illinois neighborhood, life is friendly and happy, with time for boisterous hide-and-seek games and stories on the porch. As he explains, "Nobody was a stranger….Everybody played. Dogs too, yapping at our heels….They ran wild like the rest of us." But that is before World War II, which sends the narrator's older brother into the army, makes his dad somber, brings his troublesome grandparents into town, sends his mother to work, and changes everything. Peck's masterful, detail-rich prose describes wartime in the United States, where coffee and sugar are rationed; rubber, metal, and even milkweed fluff are collected for the war effort; and sacrifices are made by everyone. Peck's characters are memorable. A classmate's mom comes to school to terrorize her daughter's timid teacher: "A giant figure appeared at the classroom door. We hadn't seen a woman this big since Mrs. Meece came for her girdle." Each episodic chapter about Davy, his family, and his neighbors fits seamlessly into the emerging story. Readers will cheer for these folks, and be submerged into the homefront world of people who: "Use it up, wear it out,/Make it do or do without." This book is an absolute delight.—Lee Bock, Glenbrook Elementary School, Pulaski, WI
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.

Customer Reviews

Richard Peck is such a great writer!
Amazon Customer
He creates characters that a reader can embrace and understand wholeheartedly.
reading geek
A must read for any junior high students.
S. Eshbach

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

26 of 26 people found the following review helpful By reading geek on February 18, 2007
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
As a parent of a middle school student, I was fortunate to be introduced to Peck's work this past summer. After reading A Long Way From Chicago and A Year Down Yonder, both wonderfully enjoyable, I took it upon myself to read as many Richard Peck books as possible. While some of his earlier work didn't thrill me, his later work is absolutely beautiful. He creates characters that a reader can embrace and understand wholeheartedly. This latest book, On The Wings of Heroes, should be required reading for every American, primarily because it gives a reader a picture of what it's like to have a family member at war. It's painfully realistic. Reading it, I laughed and cried, sometimes within a paragraph. Peck's work is gorgeous, real and meaningful. On the Wings of Heroes is stunning and touching, whether you're a middle school student or a parent of a middle school student. Peck continues to get better and better!
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17 of 17 people found the following review helpful By LonestarReader VINE VOICE on April 27, 2007
Format: Hardcover
I cannot think of any author who does more to refresh the palate and revive the spirit than Richard Peck. He has such fun telling a story. His uplifting and moving novel, On the 'Wings of Heroes' was exactly what I was in the mood for.

This book is an extension, of sorts, of a short story he contributed to 'Guys Write for Guys Read' by Jon Scieszka about his wonderful father and his love of Halloween.

This story begins on the eve of WWII. Peck perfectly evokes a time when neighbors knew each other and families banded together to support their community and the war effort with scrap metal drives, jalopy parades, black outs and tire rationing.

Davy Bowman's beloved older brother enlists and becomes a B-17 bombardier, flying missions over Germany. Davy worships his brother and his dad. His father loves his boys and fears for the oldest one because, as a WWI veteran, he knows war. The relationship between the boys and their dad is wonderfully written. Peck commented at a book signing, "I'm trying to share my father with boys who don't have them."

Sugar rationing, milkweed collecting and Boy Scout paper drives are part of the lives of Davy and his best friend Scooter. School teachers are called away to work in the war plants leaving bullies free reign in the classroom. News on the radio is all important and loving grandparents arrive to help out when times are tough.

The town is full of Peck's typically quirky characters and life lessons. Is the shotgun wielding Miss Titus crazy or the canniest substitute teacher in the world? What is in the trunk in Mr. Stonecypher's scary attic?
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15 of 15 people found the following review helpful By Portianay VINE VOICE on February 24, 2007
Format: Hardcover
I didn't think he could get any better, but this one is right up there with A LONG WAY FROM CHICAGO and A YEAR DOWN YONDER. (It probably helps that the book relates things that sound so familiar, from listening to my own parents talk about their WW2 experiences.) Best line of the book--and there are DOZENS of best lines!-- "Be Dad. Be Dad."

If you don't read anything else this spring, read this one. You do not have to be a young adult to love it; I am a fairly middle-aged one!
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By Mary Hollowell on January 3, 2008
Format: Hardcover
Will Davy's fighter pilot brother survive World War II? This is the central question in Richard Peck's latest novel. The novel sweeps the duration of the war. While Davy's older brother trains for war then flies in raids, Davy and his best friend, Scooter, man the homefront. They collect rubber, paper, and scrapmetal. Ironically, their large collection of newspaper is stolen from their wagons by Boy Scouts.

The seriousness of the war is constantly being broken by the eccentricities of Davy's neighbors, and no one is better at portraying cantankerous seniors than Richard Peck. From the gruff Mr. Stonecypher with a still in his basement to Mrs. Titus, a scrawny woman in sackcloth who totes a shotgun, to Mrs. Titus's ninety-seven-year-old mother who still believes the Civil War is raging, they are all hugely entertaining and diverting. When Mrs. Titus is called upon to serve as a long-term substitute teacher in Davy's class, she takes on the class's unlikely bully, a round girl named Beverly with two equally large cronies. The bullies are no match for the elderly Mrs. Titus who puts a rattrap in her purse to catch their pilfering fingers.

Peck ingeniously blends seriousness and lightheartedness, the ordinary and the extraordinary. A highlight of the book is the Old Jalopy Parade, in which junk cars are paraded to the scrapyard. Davy rides high in Mrs. Titus's ancient Pan American. With a spine-tingling conclusion, this book is grand historical fiction.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By J. Snoke on July 27, 2007
Format: Audio CD
(Listened to this book on CD) This book is a real gem. I rented some books on tape from my local library for a trip. This was the first one I popped in. I was rivited!! I laughed so hard....I thought I was gonna die. I even had to stop at a rest stop to use the mens room. While I was in there, the last scene of the story came to my mind and I began to laugh uncontrollably!. The man beside must have thought I was a real nut. This is truly a well written, well read book. I ended up listening to it over again...3 times. In fact I never even touched the other books I rented. I tried to listen to one other and almost immediately had to pop it out and put "Wings Of Heros" back in. I made my kids and wife listen to it. I love this book! I cannot highy reccommend it enough. The Charactors are priceless. It is one of the few books on tape that I would say is perfect! The scene where the boy is in school and they are having a practice air raid will leave you in stitches! The man who read this did such a good job, that I'm not sure I would have loved it as well as I do If I had read it myself. If you need a good laugh and love a good story and want to feel really good all over...do yourself a favor and rent or buy this book...then go for a 4 hour drive and enjoy!
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More About the Author

Richard Peck has written over twenty novels, and in the process has become one of America's most highly respected writers for young adults. A versatile writer, he is beloved by middle graders as well as young adults for his mysteries and coming-of-age novels. He now lives in New York City. In addition to writing, he spends a great deal of time traveling around the country attending speaking engagements at conferences, schools and libraries...Mr. Peck has won a number of major awards for the body of his work, including the Margaret A. Edwards Award from School Library Journal, the National Council of Teachers of English/ALAN Award, and the 1991 Medallion from the University of Southern Mississippi. Virtually every publication and association in the field of children s literature has recommended his books, including Mystery Writers of America which twice gave him their Edgar Allan Poe Award. Dial Books for Young Readers is honored to welcome Richard Peck to its list with Lost in Cyberspace and its sequel The Great Interactive Dream Machine...

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