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When the Sergeant Came Marching Home Hardcover – April 15, 2008


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Editorial Reviews

From School Library Journal

Grade 4–6—Ten-year-old Donald is miserable now that his father, the Sergeant, has returned home from World War II and moved the family to a farm in rural Montana, miles away from Wistola. Horrified at the lack of modern conveniences (their ramshackle house has neither electricity nor indoor plumbing) and angry at the Sergeant, Donald secretly plans to run away to Hollywood. However, as time passes, he and his younger brother begin to enjoy country living, riding their elderly horse, skating and playing hockey on a neighbor's frozen slough, romping with their new mutt, and making friends at their one-room schoolhouse. The boys also demonstrate their profound gift for imagination in the games they play outdoors. Donald's first-person narration is filled with humor and wit. Lemna conveys a true sense of farm life and all its difficulties, with each chapter describing the brothers' various adventures. The mood is light and playful throughout, with appropriately serious moments marking the maturity that Donald gains, particularly in his attitude toward his father. The narrative is simple, with a few choice vocabulary words that can be explored through language lessons. The historical references also lend an opportunity for curriculum connections; the book provides an accessible look at post-World War II American life and can initiate study of cultural differences between that era and our 21st-century lives. Well written and entertaining.—Bethany A. Lafferty, Las Vegas-Clark County Library, NV
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From Booklist

*Starred Review* Donald, 10, is happy when his dad returns safely from the war in 1946, but he’s furious when Dad moves the family to a farm in Montana (“he’s ruined my life”). On the farm, he lives surrounded by pigs and chickens, there’s no electricity or plumbing (“just an awful poop pit”), and school is a one-room classroom with 43 kids who play kick-the-can with Donald as the can. Running away to Hollywood seems the only solution. Relayed in Donald’s scrappy, first-person voice, much of this novel reads like a memoir filled with wonderfully irreverent daily details of being raised on the prairies: Donald locks his show-off cousin in the outhouse, tries to knock nails into wood, and finds milking a cow soothing. Eventually, Donald becomes comfortable on the farm, but the hardship is always there, whether in his parents’ monthly struggle to pay the mortgage (he sees his mother cry when they have to sell their wedding rings) or in his daily chores. Illustrated with small, lovely black-and-white drawings, this tale is timeless, each chapter resembling a short story, often with a quiet kick at the end. Grades 4-7. --Hazel Rochman
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Product Details

  • Age Range: 9 and up
  • Grade Level: 4 and up
  • Lexile Measure: 840L (What's this?)
  • Hardcover: 215 pages
  • Publisher: Holiday House (April 15, 2008)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0823420833
  • ISBN-13: 978-0823420834
  • Product Dimensions: 1 x 5.8 x 8.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 8.8 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #3,040,245 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful A Kid's Review on May 10, 2008
Format: Hardcover
This is a great book! It's great for kids from fourth grade to seventh, and good for reluctant readers. When Donald and his brother Pat's father comes home, at first they are thrilled. Then Donald's father buys a home out in absolutely-middle-of-deep-space-completely-nowhere, and Donald is sad to leave his friends. He is so upset with his father; he decides to run away to California. But first he needs to save exactly ten dollars. But there's plenty of stuff to do in the meantime, and he knows he'll go as soon as he gets enough money...Or will he? This is a warm-hearted tale by Don Lemna, and be prepared for lots 'o' laughs when you read it! I highly reccomend this book.
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2 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Annie on February 20, 2009
Format: Paperback
This book was awesome. It was full of fun and humor. It is right up there with a must read. I highly recommend it.
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1 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Track Eye on February 28, 2012
Format: Paperback
I read this book to a 9-year-old boy. I'm not sure if he would have read it on his own, because the story is a semi-quiet story, and this particular boy likes fast-paced plot-driven tales. However, we both loved this book. He would beg me to keep reading, and I wanted to keep reading! This story is sweet and has many laugh-out-loud scenes. We were sad when the book had come to an end.
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