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26 of 26 people found the following review helpful
on February 18, 2007
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
on April 27, 2007
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?

Certainly, Davy's heroes are his father and his brother but after reading this book you understand the heroism of those on the home front too: the long retired teacher who steps into the classroom again; the father whose son did not come home from WWI but supports the war effort; the victory gardens; blue, silver, and gold stars in the windows representing families in waiting or grieving.

The beauty, tenderness and humor in this very American story put it at the top of my favorite books list.
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15 of 15 people found the following review helpful
VINE VOICEon February 24, 2007
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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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
on January 3, 2008
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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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
on July 27, 2007
(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 yourself a favor and rent or buy this book...then go for a 4 hour drive and enjoy!
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
on June 16, 2008
Davy Bowman is growing up during WWII in Illinois and must deal with the changes going on around him. His brother, a pilot trainee joins up... his father, a WWI vet owns the local gas station and they are expected to ration food, rubber, gas, and other precious staples. He and his best friend travel around on their bikes savaging metal for the war effort.

This was an entertaining (and educational) story of how a country pitched in to help each other during a time of crisis. I particularly enjoyed reading about the various characters that inhabited the town, and the cantankerous old teacher Miss Titus that put a mousetrap in her purse to thwart the class bully. My only complaint is that this book wasn't longer.

Well worth a listen for adults and kids alike.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
on June 3, 2010
The Illinois neighborhood rings with the sounds of children playing hide-and-seek, of neighbors sharing stories on their front porch, and of laughter from the delights of successful Halloween antics. Davy Bowman's world is happy and safe because of his heroes, his Dad and his older brother Bill, who always seemed to find time to do things with Davy.

Pearl Harbor is bombed and Davy's world changes. His Dad becomes the local air raid warden and Bill goes off to become a B-17 bombardier, flying missions over Germany. There are air raid drills and endless scrap drives. New kids enroll in Davy's school, "eight-to-five orphans," whose mothers work at the local war plants. Everything is rationed, but the whole community pitches in to do their part for the war effort.

Davy still has his heroes to depend upon but soon he begins to discover that in his neighborhood there are other heroes and during the next few years he learns what sacrifice and courage really means.

In "On the Wings of Heroes," Newberry Medal-winning author Richard Peck's easy-going pace and sly humor captures the sense of community in Middle America before and during World War II. Reading it stirred up millions of memories of my own childhood neighbors and escapades and also helped me to gain a deeper understanding of what my parents and older siblings had to endure during the war.

It is an outstanding example of well written historical fiction that captures the heart and soul of families during war times, not only the wars of the past, but also the wars of the present. I sincerely hope that grandparents and grandchildren, fathers and sons will share this book. It is the beginning of discussion, of understanding, and perhaps even healing.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
on July 30, 2008
I will admit that I began reading this book, got about to the 2nd chapter, and stopped. For whatever reason I just was not in the mood for this particular story.

But week later I decided to give it another try and I picked it up again. I am extremely glad I did. Because for me, the magic moment when I began to 'live' the story happened right about the 6th chapter. From that point on, I was hooked. You could not stop me from finishing the book.

By the end my eyes were tearing up with a variety of emotions, and I felt that I had really lived through WWII. I wanted to give the entire Bowman family a big hug for sharing their experience with me.

Richard Peck is such a great writer!
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
on October 26, 2012
When you read One the Wings of Heros, you now understand why people call old people who survived WW2, the greatest generation. People were more caring, hero's were real and did not need to blog about it or put it on a twitter page. This is a great action packed heart warming novel, that keeps on wanting to turn the pages.
I have read others from the author now, many should be made into movies.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
on July 14, 2011
This book is one of the best I have ever read. Loved the humor and the sensitivity of the first person character. Peck has such a wonderful way of creating pictures in my mind with his words. I can actually see the neighbors on the porch swing, dad hunkering down in the car waiting for the "horn blowing vandals", and the individual descriptions of the many people in his life brought the whole town to life. I manage a senior housing facility and read this book to them during our weekly reading time. They loved it and best of all could relate to many of the wartime references. It brought many stories out of them. I read it aloud to my husband as we were traveling downstate and all the way back home. Lots of laughter and comments. I have requests from both venues for more of his books and I will definitely do that. Wish I could have given it an even higher rating!!!!
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