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Adult Books for Military Teens

Adult Books For Teens

For ages around 14 years to adult. These books were published as adult books but have a child or teen as the main character.

Click on any title in this list to see a brief critique, publishing information and the cover, or scroll down and browse!

 

 

Rebel Powers Cover
Bausch, Richard. (1993). Rebel Powers. Houghton Mifflin. Boston, Ma.

OUT OF PRINT
ISBN: 0-395-59508-8 (Hardcover)
ISBN: 0-679-75253-6
Thomas grew up in a Air Force family until he was seventeen and his father was sent to jail for stealing a typewriter. Thomas is looking back at his life and writing this from the perspective of a divorced man in his forties and sometimes the commentary of the older man is distracting. Only the first approximately fifth of the book deals directly with Thomas’s life as a military child but much of the rest of the story stems directly from his father’s misdeed and the harsh punishment the Air Force gave him.  Unlike the parents in many of these books Thomas’s father was enlisted and money problems are a big issue. He was trying to take the typewriter to pay off debts, but the book does portray him as a spendthrift with a car he could not afford.
Recommended.

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FathersGeisha
Bennett, James Gordon. (1990). My Father’s Geisha Delacorte Press. New York, NY.
IN PRINT
ISBN: 0-385-30097-2 (Hardcover)
ISBN: 0-671-74000-8 (Paperback – 1991 Reprint)
This episodic novel starts when Teddy is eleven and lives in California on an Army base. It ends when he is in is in his thirties. Teddy’s dysfunctional family life is the focus of the novel but Army life is woven inextricably into it, such as when major conflict arises when his mother’s refuses to fly and join her husband at overseas postings. By the end of the novel we learn that Teddy’s father had been having a long-term affair with a Vietnamese woman that started when he was overseas with the Army. From the first page of the novel there is no mistaking that this novel has a military setting. These military children are comfortable using jargon and acronyms that would baffle most people. For example, “another Article Fifteen for you,” my sister whispers” (page 1). (An Article Fifteen is a military punishment).
Recommended with reservations.

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Durable Goods Paperback Cover Durable Goods Hardcover
Berg, Elizabeth. (1993). Durable Goods. Random House Trade Paperbacks. New York, N.Y.
IN PRINT
ISBN: 081296814X. (Paperback)
ISBN: 0-679-42208-0 (Hardcover)
Katie is twelve. Her mother is dead and her Army father is distant and sometimes abusive, especially to her 18-year-old sister. This is an examination of Katie’s family and her relationship with her friends but it is also an unflinching and often unflattering look at life for a military child. “I do not believe the army is a good idea for people with regular human hearts.” (page 63). Life on a military base is portrayed in detail, “Every morning when I wake up I hear a drill sergeant yelling pieces of songs to the straight lines of men marching, marching, all stepping onto their left foot at the same time, all dressed exactly alike, all staring straight ahead and yelling back to him” (page 5).  It is a poetically written book that will resonate with many readers for a long time.
Recommended.

For a longer review I wrote for the Williamsburg Regional Library, see Blogging for a Good Book

 

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Joy School Paperback Cover
Berg, Elizabeth. (1998). Joy School. Ballantine Books. New York. N.Y.
IN PRINT
ISBN: 0345423097 (Paperback)
ISBN: 0-606-17137-1 (Turtleback Books Library Binding)
ISBN: 1-56895-488-3 (Large Print)

A sequel to Durable Goods. Katie now lives in Missouri and falls in love with an older man. Katie’s father mellows with his new wife. The Army does not feature so emphatically in these sequels to Durable Goods, but it is still a background.
Recommended.

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True To Form Cover
Berg, Elizabeth. (2002). True to Form. Random House. New York, N.Y.
IN PRINT
ISBN: 0-7434-1134-X (Hardcover).
ISBN: 0-7434-1135-8 (Softcover)
ISBN: 0-7434-5312-3 (Large Print)
The third book in the sequence about Katie that was started in Durable Goods. It is now 1961 and Katie is thirteen. Her father sets up unpleasant summer jobs for her and a visit to her friend Cherylanne in Texas goes badly.
Recommended.

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Above the East China Sea
Bird, Sarah. (2014). Above the East China Sea: A Novel Knopf (May 27, 2014).
IN PRINT
ISBN-10: 0385350112

ISBN-13: 978-0385350112

This new book by Sarah Bird will come out in May 2014 and is set again in Okinawa, the setting of The Yokota Officers Club.

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Yokota Officers Club Cover Yokota Officer’s Club Cover
Bird, Sarah. (2001). The Yokota Officer’s Club. New York. N.Y. Ballantine Books.
IN PRINT
ISBN: 0-345-45277-1 (Ballantine Reader’s Circle Edition).
ISBN: 0-375-41214-X (Hardcover)
This riveting read would suit teenagers who are strong readers. The story opens when Bernie is 18 and is returning to her family from her first year at college. Descriptions of her present day in Guam are mixed with flashbacks to her childhood. The flashbacks describe events in her childhood that lead up to a surprising climax that explains the disintegration of the happy family she once knew. The book is set in the author’s own childhood so some of the details about the military family experience are out of date. “Wives of majors who wish to make colonel wear heels and hose in public” (page 20). But some emotional details never change, for example as Bernie arrives on an Air Force base in Okinawa that she has never seen before,  “I recognize in the distance, the comfortingly familiar bulk of the commissary, the BX, the endless stretches of runway sweeping out to the sea” (page 44).
Highly Recommended.

For a longer review I wrote for the Williamsburg Regional Library, see Blogging for a Good Book

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Red Sky at Morning Cover
Bradford, Richard. (1968 ). Red Sky at Morning. Harper Collins.
IN PRINT
ISBN: 0-06-093210-4 (Hardcover)
ISBN: 0-06-093190-6 (Paperback)
First published in 1968, this book was reprinted in 1999. Josh is seventeen and lives a privileged life in Mobile, Alabama where his father owns a shipyard. Near the end of World War II, in 1944, his father volunteers for the Navy, although he doesn’t have to as he is exempted as someone running a vital industry. When he leaves with the Navy Josh’s father arranges for Josh and his mother go to a village in the New Mexico mountains where he feels they will be safer. Josh settles in to the new life, making friends, growing up and finding beauty in the new landscape. However, his mother, removed from her known life, friends and family falls slowly apart. Josh’s father is not present in much of the book but his absence looms over everyone. This book captures the dislocation and even disintegration that can occur in some military families when the military member is absent for an extended period.

Recommended.

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Great Santini Paperback Cover GreatSantini Reprint Cover
Conroy, Pat. (1976). The Great Santini. Houghton Mifflin Company. New York, N.Y.
IN PRINT
This book has been reprinted in many versions.
ISBN: 0-553-26892-9 (1987 Bantam Paperback Edition)
ISBN: 0-553-38155-5 (2002 Reprint)
ISBN: 0-937036-00-5 (Hardcover)
ISBN: 0-606-03795-0 (Turtleback Library Edition)
Ben is being raised in a Marine family in the 1950s. His father is authoritarian, compulsively competitive and sometimes abusive. The military dominates the family’s life as Bull Meecham rules the family and the Marines rule Bull Meecham. It is a well-written and satisfying book. This book was made into a movie of the same name in 1979 and has been reprinted many times.
Recommended.

For a longer review written by my colleague at the Williamsburg Regional Library, see Blogging for a Good Book

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BoneMans Daughters

Dekker, Ted. (2009). BoneMan’s Daughters. Center Street.
IN PRINT
ISBN-10: 1599951959 (Hardcover)
WARNING: This book contains intense, graphic violence and disturbing scenes.

Bethany’s father is in the Navy. He hasn’t been around much for years, so to Bethany  his latest deployment to Iraq is just a continuation of her normal life. Things change when he is kidnapped by insurgents in Iraq. Told in varying viewpoints, this is an intense, plot-driven thriller that drew me in. Although the main character is arguably Bethany’s father, Captain Ryan Evans, Bethany’s viewpoint is given in many chapters. This book raises issues for older teens who can form a deeper personal understanding of war and the effects of parents’ choices on their children.

Recommended for older teens (see warning above).

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p>AliceBliss

 

Harrington, Lisa. (2011). Alice Bliss. Center Street.
IN PRINT
ISBN: 978 0670022786 (Hardcover)

Alice Bliss is fifteen and her father is deployed to Iraq. Told in alternating viewpoints between Alice and her mother, Angie.

Recommended.

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Self Published Books for Military Children

Self-Published Books

These books are listed separately because so many picture books for military children have been self published recently (which means that they weren’t published through major commercial publishers). These vary enormously in quality. Some of them are excellent and many of them will be useful for small military children.

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Algeo, Kristie (2006)  When Daddy Comes Home Pleasant Word Kids –  A Division of WinePress Publishing
ISBN: 978-1414106670
Algeo, Kristie (2006)  When Daddy Goes Away Pleasant Word Kids – A Division of WinePress Publishing
ISBN: 978-1414106434
Carnet, Giovy My Name Is Baby Jeff Trafford Publishing

ISBN 1-4120-5706-x

 

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Colón-Franceschi, Angelina & Giovanni (2011).  Mommy the Sailor Xlibris Publishing

ISBN 978-1-4653-6540-8

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Brunson Jodi A Year Without Dad 

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NightCatch
Ehrmantraut, Brenda, (2005). Night Catch. Bubble Gum Press. Jamestown. North Dakota.

IN PRINT
ISBN: 0972983392

This warm book is written in the words of a soldier father talking to his son. The father is going away so as a connection he invents a game of pretending to send the star Polaris back and forth between him and his son. The concept of the time difference is introduced and both father and son are shown sleeping and awake; the father in the desert and the son in America. The endnote information about and diagram of the North Star add to the utility of the book. Military parents and children could use this book as a start for a “Night Catch” game of their own.

Recommended

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Hope Weavers by Brenda Ehrmantraut
DaddyIsASoldier
Hallowell, Kirsten. (2004). Daddy Is a Soldier. Trafford Publishing. New Bern. North Carolina.

IN PRINT
ISBN: 1412018536

“Ricky’s Daddy is a soldier and doesn’t spend much time at home. Ricky loves his father and is proud of Daddy’s job, but is angry when Daddy is away.” (Information from Trafford Publishing http://www.trafford.com/ 7 April 2005. Link checked OK 2007-02-01).
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My Daddy is a Soldier Cover
Hilbrecht, Kirk and Hilbrecht, Sharron, (1992). My Daddy Is a Soldier. New Canaan Publishing Company Inc. New Canaan. Connecticut.

IN PRINT
ISBN: 1-889658-01-4 (Paperback)

This is the first of the picture books purpose written for military children seeing their own worlds reflected or to show non-military children what it is like to be a military child. It uses simple declarative sentences that describe what it is like to have a parent in the military, “While he was gone, Daddy wrote to me. I checked the mailbox every day.” (page 17). The simple illustrations complement the text.

Recommended.

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My Daddy is a Guardsman Cover
Hilbrecht, Kirk and Hilbrecht, Sharron. (2002). My Daddy Is a Guardsman. New Canaan Publishing Company Inc. New Canaan. Connecticut.

IN PRINT
ISBN: 1-889658-30-8 (Paperback)

This book has almost identical words and pictures to the Hilbrechts’ earlier book, My Daddy is a Soldier. The only words that have been changed are the those needed to make the story about a Guardsman instead of a soldier. For example in My Daddy is a Soldier the father goes to the field and in My Daddy is a Guardsman he goes to a base. Also in My Daddy is a Soldier the family has to move, but the family in My Daddy is a Guardsman go to a unit picnic. It will be useful for small children with a father in the National Guard.

Recommended.

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Hilbrecht, Kirk and Hilbrecht, Sharron. (2005). My Daddy Is an Airman New Canaan Publishing Company Inc. New Canaan. Connecticut. (Release date April 25, 2005)

IN PRINT
ISBN: 1889658383

The two newest books from the Hilbrechts appear to be along the same lines as their other three books. They have already been sold in quantity to the Air Force. See: http://www.newcanaanpublishing.com/html/news.html#booksale Link worked 2007-02-01

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Hilbrecht, Kirk and Hilbrecht, Sharron. (2005). My Mommy Is an Airman. New Canaan Publishing Company Inc. New Canaan. Connecticut. (Release date April 25, 2005)

IN PRINT
ISBN: 1889658391

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My Mommy is a Guardsman Cover
Hilbrecht, Kirk and Hilbrecht, Sharron. (2004). My Mommy Is a Guardsman. New Canaan Publishing Company Inc. New Canaan. Connecticut.

IN PRINT
ISBN: 1889658332 (Paperback)

This book is the same as the Hilbrechts’ other two books, except that the parent shown is a woman and not a man. This is a useful addition considering that in 2001 women made up over 17% of the total the selected reserves which was around 160 000 women ( from  Total Distribution Of The Selected Reserve By Sex And Reserve Component, September 30, 2001. Selected Manpower Statistics, FY2001. Office of the Secretary of Defense. 2002. Accessed from Lexis Nexis Statistical Universe, 5 December 2003).

Recommended.

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Hoffman,  Mary Ann and Filomena Sitler (1981)  A Special Family Published by: Naval Institute Press 1981

 

Judd, Christopher M. With Jim Flanagan. Illustrated by Dale Herron (2005) Bearable Moments Acadian House, Columbus, Ohio

ISBN 978-0976666615

Blake’s Mommy is going “far away for a long time” with the Army. Blake’s father finds Mommy’s old teddy bear for Blake and he carries it around to remind him of his mother.

 
Madison, Ron. Illustrated by David Covolo Ned And The General: A Lesson About Deployment Ned’s Head Productions. 2004 ISBN: 1887206248

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Mitchell, Kathy Daddy Got His Orders TJ Publishing Company. 2004 ISBN: 0976081105

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WhenDutycalls
Sportelli-Rehak, Angela. Illustrator: Hinlicky, Gregg. (2004) Uncle Sam’s Kids: When Duty Calls. Island Heights, NJ. Abidenme Books Publishing.

IN PRINT
ISBN: 0971451516

Nick belongs to Uncle Sam’s Kids (a fictitious organization similar to Boy Scouts). He is excited about a competition to show their friends and family members out at sea how much they care. The winning troop will get a tour of the USS Liberty Bell. Nick and his two little sisters then discover that Daddy is deploying on the same ship for six months. Nick’s troop win with “Care Sackpacks” and get to tour the ship. Soon their Daddy is gone and Nick has the idea of sending Daddy a Care Sackpack. This book talks about the family praying for each other. Extra touches include the national anthem related names of characters, Sergeant Spangle and Colonel Redglare and the fifty hidden stars representing states.

Recommended

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movingAgainMom
Sportelli-Rehak, Angela. Illustrator: Hinlicky, Gregg. (2004) Uncle Sam’s Kids: Moving Again Mom. Island Heights, NJ. Abidenme Books Publishing.

IN PRINT
ISBN: 0971451524

A companion book to When Duty Calls.

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Thomas, James.  (2010) What Will I Play While You Are Away?  Trafford Publishing.

IN PRINT

Perfect Bound Softcover
ISBN:  9781453773307

Reviews of Teen Books for Military Children

Teen Books

For ages around 10 years to 15 years

Click on any title in the list below to see a brief critique, publishing information and the cover, or scroll down and browse!

Page Contents For Teen Books

The Proving Ground by Elaine Alphin

When the Lights Go Out by Max Elliot Anderson

Megan Meade’s Guide to the McGowan Boys by Kate Brian

Operation Homefront by Caroline B. Cooney

After the First Death by Robert Cormier

Other Bells for Us to Ring by Robert Cormier

Charlie Pippin by Candy Dawson

Till Tomorrow by John Donahue

Dove Song by Kristine L. Franklin

Taking Wing by Nancy Price Graff

Rainy Season by Adele Griffin

Road to Tater Hill by Edith Morris Hemingway

Missing in Action by Dean Hughes

Jet Set by Carries Karasyov

The Tippy Parrish Series by Janet Lambert

The Penny Parrish Series by Janet Lambert

The Jordan Family Series by Janet Lambert

The Candy Kane Series by Janet Lambert

The Mark of Merlin by Anne MacCaffrey

Searching For Atticus by Jan Marino

A Boy at War: A Novel of Pearl Harborby Harry Mazer

A Boy No More by Harry Mazer

Heroes Don’t Run: A Novel of the Pacific War by Mazer, Harry

Joseph by Shelia Moses

Joseph’s Grace by Shelia Moses

Refresh, Refresh: A Graphic Novel by Danica Novgorodoff

Second Fiddle by Rosanne Parry

Operation Oleander by Valerie O. Patterson

Rob&Sara.com by P.J. Petersen

Shut Up by Marilyn Reynolds

Out of the Blue by S.L. Rottman

War Boys by M. A. Schaffner

Rain Is Not My Indian Name by Cynthia Leitich Smith

The Purple Heart by Marc Talbert

High Dive by Tammar Stein

 

Proving Ground Cover

Alphin, Elaine. The Proving Ground. (1992). Henry Holt and Company. New York. NY.
OUT OF PRINT
ISBN: 0-8050-2140-X (Hardcover)
Kevin’s father is a Lieutenant Colonel in the Army and he has been assigned to a new base, a Proving Ground where weapons are tested. The family experience conflict on the base and in the town where Kevin goes to school. The conflict draws up to an exciting and dramatic climax when Kevin discovers that the Proving Ground and the town are in danger from an unstable youth who thinks his family’s problems stem from the government acquisition of their land in World War II. This book portrays well the problems of a military child who must move house frequently and the conflicts that can arise between a base and the surrounding community. It also talks about the difficulties faced by a military child who needs to behave well or it will be reflected on his or her parent’s career. This book portrays the everyday events of life for a contemporary military child rather than the drama of having a parent go to war.
Recommended.

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Impossible Knife Memory Cover

Anderson, Laurie Halse.(2014)  The Impossible Knife of Memory. Viking.

IN PRINT
ISBN: 978-0670012091

 

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Anderson, Max Elliot.(2011)  When the Lights Go Out. Comfort Publishing.

IN PRINT
ISBN: 978-1936695478 (PAPERBACK)
“Peyton Aldrich’s father is an Army colonel, who specializes in Army intelligence. His work is always top secret, which means he can’t even discuss it with his own son. Nevertheless, Peyton idolized his father, who believes that after what happened on 9/11, somebody had to help keep the country safe.” From Amazon.com’s Book Description

 

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Brian, Kate (2005). Megan Meade’s Guide to the McGowan Boys  Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers

ISBN 978-1416900306 (Hardcover)

ISBN 978-1416900313 (Paperback)

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Charlie Pippin Cover
Boyd, Candy Dawson. Charlie Pippin. (1987). Puffin Books. New York. NY.
IN PRINT
ISBN: 0-14-032587-5 (Paperback)
ISBN:  0-606-03752-7 (Turtleback Library Binding)
Charlie Pippin always seems to be in conflict with her father. She knows he is a veteran of the Vietnam War and when her mother hints that during the war he lost his dreams and became the angry person that Charlie knows, Charlie embarks on a school project to learn more about the Vietnam War and hopefully something about her father’s past. Strong characters like her grandmother aid or abet Charlie. Charlie is a sympathetic character and this book is an enjoyable read. This book has a strong and sometimes simplistic peace message, but the children who read should be old enough to form their own opinions about what their parents do.
Recommended.

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Operation: Homefront Cover
Cooney, Caroline B. (1992). Operation: Homefront. Laurel-Leaf Books, Bantam Doubleday Dell Publishing Group Inc. New York, N.Y.
IN PRINT
ISBN: 0-440-22689-9  (Paperback – Laurel Leaf).
ISBN: 0-553-29685-X (Paperback – Bantam Starfire Reprint)
Popular teen writer Caroline B. Cooney wrote this fast-paced book soon after the 1991 Gulf War. Like many Caroline B. Cooney books it can be slapstick funny while delving into deeper issues. Mother Rosalys is a part time kindergarten teacher who joined the reserves to pay for her schooling. Her three children thought her weekend warrior life was a joke until she was called up. “It’s military thought Laura. Before, they were Weekend Warriors and knew it. Now it’s real, and they know it. I don’t want it to be real” (page 39). After Rosalys leaves, the family compulsively watch the news and their family starts to crumble as the house and the four-year-old brother are barely looked after. By the end of the book they pull themselves together and gain a new perspective on Rosalys and themselves. An important underlying theme of this book is that the mother has a life apart from her children, even if this is a shock to the children. The cover of the paperback edition shows a woman reading a letter containing a photo of a small child. It looks like an accurate U.S. military uniform but it is not desert pattern. It is hard to know if it meant to be depicting Rosalys before she left the United States or it is inaccurate which will be a distraction to military children.
Recommended.

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After the First Death Cover After the First Death second cover After the First Death third cover
Cormier, Robert. (1979). After the First Death. Random House. New York. NY.
IN PRINT – This book has been reissued in at least five editions.
ISBN: 0-4402-0835-1 (Paperback re-issue of 1991)
ISBN: 0-8446-7215-7 (Hardcover re-issue of 2002)
ISBN: 0-606-04855-3 (Turtleback Library Binding of 1991)
Ben Marchand’s father joined the army late in life and is a General when the story opens. When a bus full of children is taken hostage by terrorists Ben is asked by his father to take messages between the government and the terrorists. His father tells Ben this is because he is young and non threatening, but by the end of the book the reader learns that Ben was chosen by his father because his father and the secret government agency he works for have been conducting psychological experiments on Ben his whole life and his father knows exactly how Ben will act under stressful circumstances. When Ben learns that his father sent him to the terrorists because he knew Ben would fail, Ben loses his sense of self and contemplates suicide. The story is told from three different perspectives, (Ben, a terrorist and a teen hostage) but starts and ends with Ben who becomes a victim of the high jacking even though he is miles away when it starts. Robert Cormier, as usual, writes a chilling tale that shows some people are capable of acting in horrible ways to other people. This book is a compelling and suspenseful read. Ben’s father’s job is described in such a shadowy way that it is difficult to determine if it is plausible. This is one of the few books of this type that invites older teens to think critically about the jobs their parents do and the government their parents work for. The U.S. military and the U.S. government are portrayed as bad guys but it is also suggested that they had no choice but to act as they did.
Highly Recommended.

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Cormier, Robert. (1990) Other Bells for Us to Ring. Delacorte Press.
ISBN 0385302452

 

Till Tomorrow Cover
Donahue, John (2001). Till Tomorrow. New York, N.Y. Farrar Straus Giroux.
IN PRINT
ISBN: 0-374-37580-1 (Hardcover)
Twelve year old Terry arrives in France with his family to live on an army base. This book describes the feelings of a military child well, especially the constant moving and the tension between the base community and the local community. It was written based on the author’s childhood, so despite being published recently, it is historical in that the U.S. military no longer has any presence in France. The background of the books includes conception of the Berlin wall and how the US military were on alert. This makes it a useful book for discussing history and how international tensions are not just a thing of the present. It is a sensitive look at loyalty and friendship and being true to friends who are not part of the in crowd.
Recommended.

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Benito Runs

Fontes, Justine. (2011) Benito Runs. Darby Creek. A Division of Lerner Publishing.
IN PRINT
ISBN: 978 0761361657 (Paperback)Benito’s father is in the National Guard and is deployed to Iraq. Written in a high-interest style with a fourth-grade reading level for reluctant readers as part of the Surviving Southside series, Benito Runs is a quick read.
Recommended. 

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Dove Song Cover
Franklin, Kristine L.(1999).  Dove Song. Candlewick Press. Cambridge, MA
IN PRINT
ISBN: 0-7636-0409-7 (Hardcover)
Bobbie Lynn is eleven when her father leaves for the Vietnam War and their mother insists on moving to be closer to where he leaves from, Washington State. Bobbie Lynn has to start another school and is even starting to make a friend with the strange Wendy when her father is listed as missing-in-action. Bobbie Lynn’s mother becomes so depressed that Bobbie Lynn and her older brother have to feed her, but they are scared what will happen if they reveal their problems to the authorities. The severity of Bobbie Lynn’s mother’s problems and the effect on her family make this a wrenching book, but it paints an ultimately heart warming picture of the power it shows of community and friendship.  Like Richard Bradford’s Red Sky at Morning this book shows the possible disintegration of a family with a parent who cannot cope without the absent military member.
This book won the Minnesota Book Awards in 2000.
Recommended.

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Graff, Nancy Price. (2005) Taking Wing. Clarion Books.
IN PRINT

Rainy Season Cover one Rainy Season Cover 2
Griffin, Adele. Rainy Season. (1998). Hyperion. New York, NY.
PRINT
ISBN: 0-7868-1241-9 (Paperback)
ISBN: 0-606-13726-2 (Turtleback Library Binding)
Eleven-year-old Lane lives in the Panama Canal Zone with her army family. A mysterious trauma is hinted at that makes Lane constantly fearful for the safety of her family members. Her brother is unstable and seemingly always on the verge of violence. Many details of army life are woven into a compelling narrative of a family that seems happy to outsiders but is being torn apart by a tragedy that no one will acknowledge. The army is portrayed as a necessary evil in Lane’s life, “I am glued to that name. It is stuck to my house, my ID, my passport, all my forms for school. Lt. Col. Beck’s dependent; that’s how the army catalogs Charlie and Mom and me” (page 139). It is a vivid portrait of a family not able to deal with tragedy.
Recommended.

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Hemingway, Edith Morris. (2009) Road to Tater Hill Delacorte Books for Young Readers

ISBN:  0385736770

 

Hughes, Dean (2010) Missing in Action Atheneum Books for Young Readers

ISBN 978-1416915027 (Hardcover)

ISBN 978-1442412484 (Paperback Simon Pulse; Reprint edition, February 8, 2011)

 

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Karasyov, Carries and Jill Kargman. (2008) Jet Set. HarperTeen.
IN PRINT

ISBN: 006143177X

 

 

Missy Tippy Cover Little Miss Tippy Cover Miss America Cover Don’t Cry Little Girl Cover Rainbow After Rain Cover Welcome Home Mrs Jordan Cover A Song In Their Hearts Cover Here’s Marny Cover

Lambert, Janet. The Tippy Parish Series.

This series started publication in 1948 and is being reissued by several companies including Cascade Publishing ( http://imagecascade.com/) and Amereon Ltd. (information about the company can be found here: http://members.cox.net/kenholt/printing.html or Amereon, 800 Wickham Ave, Mattituck,  NY  11952-1602. Joanna Paulsen (President), Phone: (631) 298-5100 (From InfoUSA). Tippy Parrish is sixteen when this series starts and she is at least in her twenties by the end of series. She is a military child who dates military men and finally marries one.  I cannot comment on the quality of the series as I have not read the books since I discovered them late in my search process. They may suit a teen girl who likes romances or conservative families who want their children to read books with old fashioned values. (Information taken from imagecascade.com and amazon.com.)

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The series consists of:

Miss Tippy  originally published 1948.
ISBN: 1930009186  (Paperback. Research Evaluation & Statistics, December 2000)

Little Miss Atlas originally published 1949.
ISBN: 0848801296 (Hardcover. Amereon Ltd, Reprint edition June 1986)
ISBN: 1930009194 (Paperback. Research Evaluation & Statistics, December 2000)

Miss America originally published 1951.
ISBN: 1930009208 (Paperback. Research Evaluation & Statistics, December 2000)

Don’t Cry Little Girl originally published 1952.
ISBN: 1930009216 (Research Evaluation & Statistics, December 2000)

Rainbow After Rain originally published 1953.
ISBN: 1930009224 (Paperback. Research Evaluation & Statistics, December 2000)

Welcome Home, Mrs. Jordan originally published 1953.
ISBN: 1930009240 (Paperback, Research Evaluation & Statistics, December 2000)

A Song in Their Hearts originally published 1956.
ISBN: 1930009240 (Paperback, Research Evaluation & Statistics, December 2000)

Here’s Marny originally published 1969.
ISBN: 1930009259 (Paperback, Research Evaluation & Statistics, December 2000)

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These further series by Janet Lambert are also being reissued by Cascade Publishing:

Lambert, Janet. The Penny Parrish Series.
There are also 6 books about Penny Parrish who is Tippy Parrish’s big sister.
This series includes: Star Spangled Summer, Dreams of Glory, Glory Be!, Up Goes the Curtain, Practically Perfect, and The Reluctant Heart. (Information taken from imagecascade.com and amazon.com.)

Lambert, Janet. The Jordon Family Series
The Jordans are a military family of nine children from combined families. They have no mother alive so the eldest daughter Jennifer must care for the family when her father is away.
This series includes: Just Jenifer, Friday’s Child, Confusion by Cupid, A Dream for Susan, Love Taps Gently, Myself & I, The Stars Hang High, Wedding Bells, and A Bright Tomorrow.  (Information taken from imagecascade.com and amazon.com.)

Lambert, Janet. The Candy Kane Series
Another military family with two daughters is the focus of this series.
This series includes: Candy Kane, Whoa Matilda, One for the Money, and A Song in Their Hearts. (Information taken from imagecascade.com and amazon.com.)

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Marino, Jan Searching For Atticus Simon & Schuster Children’s Publishing. 1997 ISBN: 0689800665

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ABoyAtWar2 aboyatwar
Mazer, Harry. (2002 ). A Boy at War: A Novel of Pearl Harbor. Simon and Schuster.
IN PRINT
ISBN: 0-68-984160-4 (Paperback)
ISBN: 0-43-935207-X (2003 Paperback Reprint)
When fourteen year old Adam moves to Hawaii with his mother, small sister and Navy father, he goes to a civilian school for the first time in his life. He makes friends with a boy of Japanese ancestry, Davi, and his father strongly disapproves. Adam sneaks off to go fishing with his new friend and they climb under a fence to fish on Pearl Harbor. In a dramatic and scary sequence they are present at (and injured by) the bombing of Pearl Harbor and Adam sees his father’s ship, the USS Arizona sink. In the confusion Adam is assumed to be in the Navy and helps rescuers. When he gets home everything is still confused and scary. He goes to find Davi and finds that Davi’s father has been taken away by the FBI. Despite knowing his own father was killed by the Japanese bombers Adam feels it is wrong to lock up Davi’s mild mannered father. When Adam’s father is officially declared missing in action Adam, his mother and sister leave Hawaii. An author’s note explains the historical background of World War II.
Recommended.

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AboyNoMore
Mazer, Harry. (2004). A Boy No More. Simon & Schuster Children’s Publishing.
IN PRINT
ISBN: 0689855338

ISBN: 0439702240 (Scholastic Paperback)
A sequel to Harry Mazer’s A Boy at War. Adam has moved from Hawaii to California and everything has changed. They are short of money and Adam’s mother gets a job and then seems to start enjoying her new independence. Even Adam’s little sister is changing as she was thought to be too young to be told that her father is dead, but she reveals that she already knows (but still doesn’t fully understand). Adam becomes interested in a girl and also gets a job as there is a labor shortage due to World War II. Adam gets a letter from his Hawaiian Japanese friend, Davi, asking him to deliver a letter relatives who have been put in a detention camp in California. Adam’s mother thinks that helping Davi is disloyalty to his father who was killed by the Japanese but Adam knows that the war is not Davi’s fault. He defies his mother to find Davi’s relatives and accidentally finds Davi in a detention camp. His relationship becomes so cold, that Adam considers going to live with his grandfather in New York state, but decides his place is with his mother and sister. These two books capture the lack of easy answers in a war – Adam knew the Japanese were guilty of killing his father but also knew that Davi and his immediate family were innocent and treated unfairly.

Recommended

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Mazer, Harry Heroes Don’t Run: A Novel of the Pacific War Simon & Schuster Children’s Publishing. 2005 ISBN: 0689855346

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Joseph

Moses, Shelia (2008)  Joseph Margaret K. McElderry Books.

ISBN: 978-1416917526

Joseph’s father is deployed to Iraq and his mother, a drug addict, cannot cope. In fact Joseph, a boy mature beyond his years, ends up looking after her. A gritty, uncompromising look at the degradations of drug addiction and how the military family lifestyle can make life unbearably difficult for families already near the edge.

 

For a longer review I wrote for the Williamsburg Regional Library, see Blogging for a Good Book.

 

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JosephsGrace

Moses, Shelia (2011)  Joseph’s Grace Margaret K. McElderry Books.

ISBN: 978-1416939429

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

RefreshRefresh

Novgorodoff, Danica  and Benjamin Percy (2009) Refresh, Refresh: A Graphic Novel First Second

ISBN: 978-1596435223

Josh’s father and Cody’s father are Marine Reservists who are deployed to Iraq. They live in a small, unnamed Oregon town where a lot of the men have gone to war. For many of the families the men’s absence is a financial as well as practical burden. Refresh Refresh does a good job of portraying the complex feelings military service creates in the families left behind. The artwork reflects the dark subject matter, with severe lines and somber, drab colors, mostly in army green and grey. Try Refresh Refresh for a stark and uncompromising look at military family life, especially for reservists. Refresh Refresh is a violent and often disturbing graphic novel suitable for adults and older teens.

For a longer review I wrote for the Williamsburg Regional Library, see Blogging for a Good Book

 

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SecondFiddle

Parry, Rosanne (2011) Second Fiddle Random House Books for Young Readers

ISBN: 978-0375861963 (Hardcover)

ISBN: 978-0375861666 (Paperback 2012)

Jody and her two friends Giselle and Vivian live on an American Army base in Berlin in 1990, shortly after the fall of the Berlin Wall. They are brought together by their love of music and they travel by train each week to music lessons in East Germany with Herr Muller. The book does a wonderful job of capturing the feel of military life.

For a longer review I wrote for the Williamsburg Regional Library, see Blogging for a Good Book

 

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Operation Oleander

Patterson, Valerie O. (2013) Operation Oleander Clarion Books

ISBN-10: 0547244371

ISBN-13: 978-0547244372

Jess’s Dad is in Afghanistan and she lives with her mother and toddler sister at invented army base, Fort Spencer, in Florida. She and her friends Meriwether and Sam have set up an unofficial charity to raise money in Florida to donate supplies to a girls’ orphanage in Kabul, Afghanistan. A detail this book captures, that books set in earlier eras miss, is the immediacy of electronic communication. Jess says, “His email is there. I check the date and time of his note. As of this morning, Dad was still alive in Afghanistan.” It includes details about the expectations for extra responsibilities when a parent is away, such as Jess’s father teaching her specifically how to add gas to the lawn mower and turn off the water main before he goes away.

For a longer review I wrote for the Williamsburg Regional Library, see Blogging for a Good Book

 

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The Mark of Merlin Cover
McCaffrey, Anne. (1971). The Mark of Merlin. Wildside Press.
IN PRINT (In many versions)
ISBN: 1-58-715493-5 (Paperback)
ISBN:  1-59-224013-5 (Hardcover)
James Carlysle Murdock is a girl despite her name. She is twenty in the book, which is a little old for this list, but Carla’s father has been in the Army for years and she has grown up on army posts. This book is also a romance and a murder mystery and I thought it is worthwhile to include a variety of genres. Carla’s father has been killed near the end of World War II and he has put her under the guardianship of someone she doesn’t know, Major Laird. She will soon be twenty-one and not in need of a guardian but she has been ill and she is sent to recuperate with Major Laird. When she turns up the Major is furious and wants to send her away, because he thought a boy would be coming, but she is stuck at his house in a blizzard. Major Laird reveals that her father was murdered by an American and the house starts to have sinister visitors despite the storm. In the satisfying conclusion the mystery is cleared up and the antagonism between the Major and Carla develops into something warmer.
Recommended.

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Petersen, P.J. and Ruckman, (2006). Ivy. Rob&Sara.com. Laurel Leaf.
IN PRINT
ISBN-10: 0440238730 Paperback

 

 

ShutUp

Reynolds, Marilyn (2009).  Shut Up Morning Glory Press.

ISBN: 9781932538939

“In her need to support her two young boys, Maria Barajas, a single mother, joins the National Guard to supplement her meager income as a sales clerk. years later, in less peaceful times, she is sent to Iraq, leaving her boys behind in the care of her sister.” From Book Jacket

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OutoftheBlue

Rottman, S.L. (2009) Out of the Blue Peachtree Publishers, Atlanta.

ISBN: 9781561454990

“Stu and his mother are heading to Minot, ND where she will assume command of the Air Force base.” From Book Jacket

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Smith, Cynthia Leitich Rain Is Not My Indian Name HarperCollins. 2001 ISBN: 0688173977

 

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War Boys Cover
Schaffner, M. A. (2002). War Boys. Welcome Rain Publishers.
IN PRINT
ISBN: 1-56649-244-0 (Hardcover)
Fourteen year old Charles Baker arrives with his family at the U.S. Navy Station at Subic Bay in the Philippines during the Vietnam War. At first Charles is terrified of the jungle but his father insists that he joins the Boy Scouts and Charles starts to go on jungle walks and camps. Charles loves to read and makes friends with some of the nerdy boys. He slowly gains acceptance with some of the more popular boys due to his growing jungle skills and integrity, but that doesn’t seem to matter when the irresponsible actions of a Boy Scout leader end in tragedy. Most of the boys Charles know want to follow their fathers’ footsteps into the Navy and all of them assume that they will end up fighting in the Vietnam War in a few years. In the (probably accurate) speech of the teenage boys this book contains a lot of swear words.
Recommended.

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Stein, Tammar. (2008). High Dive. Knopf Books for Young Readers.

IN PRINT
ISBN: 0375830243 (Hardcover)
New. Unread

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Purple Heart Cover 1  Purple Heart Cover 2  Purple Heart Cover 3
Talbert, Marc. (1992). The Purple Heart. Willa Perlman Books, An Imprint of Harper Collins.
IN PRINT
ISBN: 0-06-020429-X (Hardcover – First Edition)
ISBN: 0-06-020428-1 (Hardcover)
ISBN: 0-595-09771-5 (Paperback – 2000 Reprint)
ISBN: 0-380-71985-1 (Paperback)
Luke’s father returns wounded from Vietnam and nothing is as Luke anticipated. The glorified view of war that Luke had at the beginning of the book slowly changes as he realizes what war does to people. Luke’s father was a builder before he joined the army and the book mentions that Luke has the same best friend since first grade so his experience may not be typical of active duty military children. Nonetheless, this book is well written and raises some important issues about war and what it may be like to have a parent who is irrevocably changed by it.
Recommended.

Reviews of Middle Grade Books

Middle Grade Books

For ages around 8 years to 12 years

Click on any title in the list below to see a brief critique, publishing information and the cover, or scroll down and browse!

 

Page Contents For Middle Grade Books

Peacebound Trains by Haemi Balgassi

The Summer Before Boys by Nora Raleigh Baskin

Possum Summer by Jen K. Blom

Black Jack Jetty: A Boy’s Journey Through Grief by Michael A. Carestio

Wildlife by Cynthia DeFelice

Shooting the Moon by Frances O’Roark Dowell

Jack Adrift: Fourth Grade Without a Clue  by Jack Gantos

Lily‘s Crossing by Patricia Reilly Giff

Riley Mack by Chris Grabenstein

And Then Mom Joined the Army   by Jeannie Hagy

Aloha Means Come Back: The Story of a World War II Girl by Thomas Hoobler

Love You, Soldier by Amy Hest

Operation Yes by Sara Lewis Holmes

Piper Reed Series by Kimberly Willis Holt

Autumn Street by Lois Lowry

100 Days and 99 Nights by Alan Madison

My secret war : the World War II diary of Madeline Beck by Mary Pope Osborne

Heart of a Shepherd by Rosanne Parry

Second Fiddle by Rosanne Parry

Park’s Quest   by Katherine Paterson

The Struggle by Nancy Rue

The Misadventures of the Magician’s Dog by Frances Sackett

Almost Forever  by Maria Testa

Trader Wooly and the Secret of the Lost Nazi Treasure  by Tom Townsend

Trader Wooly and the Terrorist  by Tom Townsend

Trader Wooly and the Ghost in the Colonel’s Jeep  by Tom Townsend

Meet Molly: An American Girl. Book One by Valerie Tripp

Molly Learns a Lesson: A School Story. Book Two by Valerie Tripp

Molly‘s Surprise: A Christmas Story. Book Three by Valerie Tripp

Happy Birthday Molly: A Springtime Story. Book Four by Valerie Tripp

Molly Saves the Day: A Summer Story. Book Five by Valerie Tripp

Georgie’s Moon by Chris Woodworth

Princess for a Week by Betty Ren Wright

 

 

 

Peacebound Trains

Balgassi, Haemi. (1996). Illustrated by Chris K. Soentpiet. Peacebound Trains. Clarion Books. New York, NY.

IN PRINT
ISBN: 0-618-04030-7 (Paperback)
ISBN: 0-395-72093-1 (Hardcover)

Sumi‘s mother has joined the Army for a steady job and a chance to get an education. While Sumi‘s mother is gone for months at training Sumi stays with her Korean grandmother, Harmuny. When the arrival of a birthday parcel makes Sumi realize that her mother will really not be home for her birthday, Harmuny comforts her with a story. Most of the book is Harmuny‘s story of her escape from Seoul during the Korean War and the deprivations of war, including the loss of her husband. Chris Soentpiet’s masterly illustrations capture details of America and Korea and express the range of deep emotions portrayed in the book. The gentleness of the illustrations and the way the book comes back to a hopeful present day prevents a harrowing story of loss and dislocation from becoming overwhelming for the young audience. I put this book in middle grade books even though it has full page illustrations on every page, as the length of the book (divided into chapters) and complexity of the ideas and the distressing events make it more suitable for an older audience.

This book is also available online, with a teacher‘s guide, through the Department of Defense Korean War Commemoration Website at /http://korea50.army.mil/teachers/index.shtml (Link checked OK 2007-02-01)

Highly Recommended

 

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Summer Before Boys

Baskin, Nora Raleigh. (2011). The Summer Before Boys. Simon & Schuster Books For Young Readers.

IN PRINT
ISBN: 978-1416986737

Recommended.

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Possum Summer

Blom, Jen K.. (2011). Possum Summer. Simon & Holiday House, New York.

IN PRINT

ISBN: 978 0823423316

 

 

 

 

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Black Jack Jetty

Carestio, Michael A. (2010). Black Jack Jetty: A Boys Journey Through Grief. Magination Press.

IN PRINT
ISBN:  978-1433807848

New. Unread.

Recommended.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Wild Life

DeFelice, Cynthia C. (2011). Wild Life. Farrar, Straus and Giroux.

IN PRINT
ISBN: 978-0374380014

New. Unread

Recommended.

 

 

 

 

 

Shooting the Moon

Dowell, Frances O’Roark. (2008). Shooting the Moon  Farrar, Straus and Giroux.

IN PRINT

ISBN: 978-1416926900

Jamie Dexter lives on Fort Hood and refers to her father as “the Colonel”. Her father says things like, “The Army way is the right way…It’s about duty, it’s about honor, it’s about sacrifice” and Jamie fully agrees with him. When her brother goes to Vietnam and sends back films for Jamie to develop, her attitude towards the war is challenged. When her family is faced with tragedy she learns unexpected things about her father and is forced to re-examine her whole life.

Recommended.

 

 

 

 

 

Saturday Boy

Fleming, David. (2013). The Saturday Boy. Viking.

IN PRINT

ISBN: 978 0670785513

 

 

 

 

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JackAdrift
Gantos, Jack. (2003). Jack Adrift: Fourth Grade Without a Clue. Farrar, Straus and Giroux. New York, NY.

IN PRINT
ISBN: 0-374-39987-5

Jack’s father rejoins the Navy after going bankrupt from being cheated in a business deal. Jack, his parents, brother and sister go to live at Cape Hatteras in a camouflage-painted trailer parked in a swamp. Jack’s father expresses some dissatisfaction with the Navy, “’The last time I was in the Navy I was a kid and it was a lot easier to take orders from the upper ranks. But I’m older now and my so-called superior officers are not looking so superior. They may outrank me but they can’t outthink me’” (page 55-56). Like Gantos’s other books about Jack this book is laugh aloud funny at times. This book is unusual and useful because it depicts the family of an enlisted military member rather than an officer. (Note: the other books in Gantos‘s series about Jack depict the family after Jack‘s father has left the Navy so are not included here.)

Recommended.

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Lily‘s Crossing
Giff, Patricia Reilly. (1997) Lily‘s Crossing. Delacorte Press.

IN PRINT
ISBN: 0-385-32142-2 (First Edition Hardcover)
ISBN: 0-7587-0287-6 (2002 Hardcover Reprint)
ISBN: 0-7862-2771-0 (Large Print Hardcover)

Lily‘s mother is dead and she and her father live with her Grandmother. When her father goes off to fight in World War II she and her Gram must spend the summer at Rockaway on the Atlantic coast by themselves, an idea Lily does not like. Rockaway is even worse than she thought when her friend Margaret moves to Michigan for her father to work in war industries and no one Lily‘s age is left. Someone her age arrives in the form of Albert, an orphaned Hungarian refugee, staying with some neighbors but Lily doesn‘t like him and thinks it quite likely that he is a spy. They rescue an abandoned kitten together and start to become friends. Lily likes to exaggerate and even tell lies but she is shocked when she realizes that her lies have put Albert in danger. Through the events of the summer Lily grows up and develops stronger relationships with her Grandmother and father. This book is the winner of numerous awards including a Newbery Honor award in 1998.

Recommended.

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Mom Joined Cover
Hagy, Jeannie. (1976). And Then Mom Joined the Army. New York, NY: Abingdon Press.

OUT OF PRINT
ISBN: 0-687-01379-8 (Hardcover)

This book is approaching thirty years old and it shows. It seems more dated than historical books about World War II or the Vietnam War. Scott’s mother joins the WAC (Women’s Army Corps), which does not exist anymore. (“Congress passed a law in September 1978 that disestablished the WAC as a separate Corps of the Army effective 20 October 1978.”
(Accessed OK on 2007-02-01:
http://www.army.mil/cmh-pg/Museums/Showcase/Women/awm_Text.htm)

The message that Scott’s mother is a better parent, despite being strict, compared to Julian’s hippy parents is heavy handed. Despite these failings military children might be able to identify with some aspects of Scott’s world. For example, Scott goes to a civilian school and is constantly worried that kids at school might see his mother in her uniform, which reflects the fear children have of appearing different. Also it talks about getting in trouble living in base housing for leaving a tricycle on the sidewalk. This may sound unlikely to civilian children but is expected by military children.

Recommended with reservations

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Love You, Soldier Cover
Hest, Amy. (1991). Love You, Soldier. Four Winds.

Also published as Love You, Daddy in a Troll Special Edition, 1991.

Also published by Candlewick Press and Illustrated by Sonja Lamut in 2000.
IN PRINT

ISBN: 0027436357 (First Edition)
ISBN: 0-614-09598-0 (Hardcover)

ISBN: 0763609439 (Candlewick Press illustrated version)
ISBN: 0-14-036174-X (Paperback. Puffin 1993)
ISBN: 0-606-02730-0 (Turtleback Library Binding)
Katie is only seven when her father goes away to fight in World War II. Modern military children will know from the second sentence the Katie‘s father is not going to a present-day war because his uniform is “olive green” and not camouflage. Despite its historic setting, this poignant short book (47 pages in the Troll edition) captures the sadness and fear of having a parent go away to war. This is one of the few books at this level where the military parent does not come back. The book is tragic but ultimately hopeful.
Recommended.

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Operation Yes

Holmes, Sara Lewis. (2009) Operation Yes Arthur A. Levine Books.

IN PRINT

ISBN:

Recommended.

 

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Piper Reed

Holt, Kimberly Willis. (2007 – 2011). Piper Reed: Navy Brat. Series H. Holt.

IN PRINT
ISBN: 978-0312625481

Recommended.

Meet Piper Reed, the Ramona Quimby of military children! Piper’s father is in the Navy and life has ups and downs as she and her two sisters face moves, new schools, her father leaving on his ship and other events in military family life.

For a longer review I wrote for the Williamsburg Regional Library, see Blogging for a Good Book.

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Hoobler, Thomas and Hoobler, Dorothy. (1991). Aloha Means Come Back: The Story of a World War II Girl. Silver Burdett Press.

ISBN: 0382241568
ISBN: 0382241487

“Laura and her mother join her Navy father in Hawaii in 1941, where suspicion against the Japanese American residents runs high in an atmosphere of expectation that the United States and Japan will go to war.” (Information from http://www.ISBNdb.com Link checked OK 2007-02-01).

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Comfort

Hostetter, Joyce Moyer. (2009). Comfort Calkins Creek.

IN PRINT
ISBN: 978-0312625481

Recommended.

 

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Autumn Street Cover
Lowry, Lois. (1980). Autumn Street.  Houghton Mifflin.
IN PRINT
ISBN: 0-440-40344-8 (Paperback)
ISBN: 0-395-27812-0 (Hardcover)
ISBN: 0-606-02576-6 (Turtleback Books Library Binding)
While her father is away fighting in World War II Elizabeth and her family move in with her grandmother where there are conflicts and tensions she doesn‘t understand.  The absence of her father at the war is only in the background, but this book indicates the tensions that can arise from having a family member away at a war.
Recommended.

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100 Days and 99 Nights

Madison, Alan. (2008). 100 Days and 99 Nights. Little, Brown Books for Young Readers.

IN PRINT
ISBN: 0316113549

New. Unread

Recommended.

 

 

 

 

 

Soldier Mom Hardcover Cover Soldier Mom Cover
Mead, Alice. (1999). Soldier Mom. Dell Yearling. Random House Children’s Books. New York. NY. IN PRINT
ISBN: 0-440-22900-6 (Paperback)
ISBN: 0-374-37124-5 (Hardcover)
Jasmyn’s mother is called up from the army reserves to go to the Middle East. This book is set in 1991-1992 and the first Persian Gulf War but many children with parents in the reserves who are currently being called to active duty to a U.S. base or being sent overseas will be able to identify with Jasmyn’s shock and disbelief. Jasmyn is forced to curtail her beloved basketball to help look after her baby brother.  It is never adequately explained why Jasmyn does not want to go to live with her air force father in Japan. Some details in this book are incorrect such as on page 35, “I know a little about that stuff from having an air force parent. Mom said that Dad’s jet, the Tomcat, can fly eight miles high.” The Tomcat is a Navy plane so Jasmyn’s Air Force parent wouldn’t be flying it. (My husband pointed out this discrepancy. I verified that the Grumman Tomcat has a U.S. Navy designation of F14 in Jane’s World Combat Aircraft. (1988). Edited by Michael J.H. Taylor. Jane‘s Information Group. Alexandria, Virginia. This book has the emotional authenticity of a child forced to grow up too soon and take on adult responsibilities but it is possible a military child would notice the incorrect details and be distracted from the book’s otherwise good qualities.
Recommended.

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My Secret War
Osborne, Mary Pope. (2000). My Secret War: the World War II Diary of Madeline Beck.  Houghton Mifflin.
IN PRINT

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Heart of a Shepherd

Parry, Rosanne (2009) Heart of a Shepherd Random House Books for Young Readers

ISBN: 978-0375848025 (Hardcover)

ISBN: 978-0375848032 (Paperback 2010)

 

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Second Fiddle

Parry, Rosanne (2011) Second Fiddle Random House Books for Young Readers

ISBN: 978-0375861963 (Hardcover)

ISBN: 978-0375861666 (Paperback 2012)

For my full review, see Blogging For a Good Book, the book review blog from the Williamsburg Regional Library.

 

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Park‘s Quest Cover Park‘s Quest Cover
Paterson, Katherine. (1988). Park’s Quest. Lodestar Books. E.P. Dutton. New York, NY.
IN PRINT
ISBN: 0-525-67258-3 (Hardcover)
ISBN: 0-606-02743-2  (Turtleback Library Binding)
ISBN: 0-14-034262-1 (Paperback)
Parkington Waddell Broughton the Fifth’s (Park‘s) father died in the Vietnam War. His mother will say nothing at all about his father‘s side of the family and Park is determined to find out more about his father. What he learns about his father and his half sister does not fit in with his fantasies of his father and his chivalric deeds but Park learns about himself, his family and in the process grows up. This is a compelling and moving book.
Recommended.

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Rue, Nancy. (2002). The Struggle. Bethany House.
ISBN-10: 156179895

 

 

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The Misadventures of the Magician's Dog
Sackett, Frances. (2013). The Misadventures of the Magician’s Dog. Holiday House. New York, NY.
IN PRINT
ISBN: 978-0-8234-2869-4 (Hardcover).

This is an unusual book because it combines a story with a child of a military parent with the supernatural. Peter meets a talking dog who learned this unusual skill as an assistant to a magician. The dog knows magic and he is willing to teach it to Peter.

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Almost Forever
Testa, M. (2003). Almost Forever. Candlewick Press. Cambridge, Massachusetts.
IN PRINT
ISBN: 0-7636-1996-5 (Hardcover).
This seemingly simple novel in blank verse captures the feelings of a six-year-old girl when father goes to be a doctor in the Vietnam War for a year. We learn about the fear the family feel of their father never returning. Important things to a child like changing where they live and changes in her mother’s behavior are highlighted. It also captures well the idea that children do not necessarily understand what is happening to them and their families, and cannot change many things in their lives even if they do understand, they can only observe.
Highly recommended.

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traderWoolyLostNaziTreasure
Townsend, Tom. (1987). Trader Wooly and the Secret of the Lost Nazi Treasure. Austin Tx: Eakin Press.
OUT OF PRINT
ISBN: 0-89015-602-6 (Hardcover)
Trader (John) Wooly lives on a U.S. Army base near Munich in Germany in the 1980s. This exciting story is told from the perspective of another military child, Wes, although Trader Wooly is the main character. It is an old fashioned adventure story with treasure, arch villains and a kidnapping.  The book briefly delves into the deeper issue of forgiveness and redemption when the boys meet an old German man and find the tank that he fought in during World War II and the remains of the soldiers that were killed by Americans. Trader Wooly is sad about a German friend who was killed by a unexploded World War II mine in the dangerous Panzerwold. Unfortunately that does not stop him going constantly into the Panzerwold with Wes and the old German man.  Trader Wooly and Wes come out of the Panzerwold unscathed and with the treasure. It seems unfortunate to send children the message that entering in dangerous and forbidden places is acceptable.
Recommended with reservations.

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Trader Wooly Terrorist Cover
Townsend, Tom. (1988). Trader Wooly and The Terrorist. Austin Tx: Eakin Press.
OUT OF PRINT
ISBN: 0-89015-670-0 (Permabound)
A sequel to Trader Wooly and the Secret of the Lost Nazi Treasure.

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Trader Wooly Colonels Jeep Cover
Townsend, Tom. (1991). Trader Wooly and the Ghost in the Colonel’s Jeep. Austin Tx: Eakin Press.
OUT OF PRINT
ISBN: 0-89015-807-X (Hardcover)
The third book in the series about Trader Wooly.

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Meet Molly Cover
Tripp, Valerie. (1986). Illustrator: C.F. Payne. Meet Molly: An American Girl. Book One. The American Girls Collection. Pleasant Company.
IN PRINT
ISBN: 0-937295-06-X (Hardcover)
Molly’s father is a doctor in the U.S. Army stationed in England during World War II.  Molly is concerned with the sort of issues that loom large in the life of a child in a stable home – having to eat turnips and what to wear for Halloween. She and her brother play tricks on each other in an escalating way until their mother gives them a pointed lecture about needing to get on with each other. This is the first in a series of five books about Molly. The series is suitable for a young reader who likes the familiarity and safety of a series.
Recommended.

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The other four books in this series are listed below:

Molly Learns Lesson
Tripp, Valerie. (1986). Illustrator: C.F. Payne. Molly Learns a Lesson: A School Story. Book Two. The American Girls Collection. Pleasant Company.
IN PRINT
ISBN: 0-937295-84-1 (Hardcover)

Molly‘s Surprise
Tripp, Valerie. (1986). Molly‘s Surprise: A Christmas Story. Book Three.  The American Girls Collection. Pleasant Company.
IN PRINT
ISBN: 0-937295-84-1 (Hardcover)

 

 

 

 

Happy Birthday Molly
Tripp, Valerie. (1987). Illustrator: by Nick Backes. Happy Birthday Molly: A Springtime Story. Book Four. The American Girls Collection. Pleasant Company.
IN PRINT
ISBN: 0-937295-90-6 (Hardcover)

Molly Saves the Day Cover
Tripp, Valerie. (1988). Illustrator: Nick Backes. Molly Saves the Day: A Summer Story. Book Five. The American Girls Collection. Pleasant Company.
IN PRINT
ISBN: 0-937295-93-0 (Hardcover)

 

 

 

Georgies Moon

Woodworth, Chris. (2006) Georgie’s Moon. Farrar, Straus and Giroux.
IN PRINT
ISBN-10: 0374333068

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Princess for a Week

Wright, Betty Ren. (2006) Princess for a Week. Illustrated by Jacqueline Rogers. Holiday House
IN PRINT
ISBN-10: 0823419452

 

 

 

 

 

 

Virginia Library Association Conference, 2013

For librarians who are interested, I am presenting a session about Books for Military Children at the Virginia Library Association Conference on September 25-27, 2013.

The Session Description reads:
Books for Military Children
Over two million American children have had a parent deployed since 9/11. Tens of thousands of these children live in Virginia. Explore how well literature validates military children’s experiences of constant relocations, parental absence and danger. Learn how your library can recognize, reach and serve this often overlooked group.

Presenter: Jan Marry, Williamsburg Regional Library

Picture Books for Military Children

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HOME  |  Picture  |  Middle Grade  |  Teen  |  Self-Published |  Teen Adult  |

 

Picture Books

For ages around 2 years to 7 years. Click on any title in this list to see a brief critique, publishing information and the cover, or scroll down and browse!

Page Contents For Picture Books

Sometimes We Were Brave by Pat Brisson

My Red Balloon, by Bunting, Eve. Illustrated by Kay Life

Dear Baby I’m Watching Over You, by Carol Casey

Year of the Jungle, by Suzanne Collins

Pilot Mom by Kathleen Benner Duble

Hero Dad by Melinda Hardin

Hero Mom by Melinda Hardin

Captain Cat by Syd Hoff

Knit Your Bit by Deborah Hopkinson

Our Daddy is Invincible! by Shannon Maxwell

Love Lizzie: Letters to a Military Mom, by McElroy, Lisa Tucker

My Father is in the Navy by Robin McKinley

Nugget on the Flight Deck by Patricia Newman

Stars Above Us by Geoffrey Norman

Postcards from a War by Vanita Oelschlager

When Dad’s at Sea by Mindy L. Pelton

My Daddy Was a Soldier: A World War II Story by Deborah Kogan Ray

While You Are Away by Eileen Spinelli

The Impossible Patriotism Project by Linda Skeers

Good Night Captain Mama / Buenas Noches Capitán Mamá, by Graciela Tiscareño-Sato

Red, White, and Blue Good-bye, by Tomp, Sarah Wones. Illustrated by Ann Barrow

The Christmas Box by Jo Anne Stewart Wetzel

All Those Secrets of the World by Jane Yolen

Don't forget, God bless our troops

Biden, Jill. (2012) Illustrated by Raul Colon Don’t Forget, God Bless Our Troops Simon & Schuster / Paula Wiseman Books

ISBN-10: 144245735X

ISBN-13: 978-1442457355

Natalie’s father has to go away and Natalie is sad. Her mother tells her that “Soldiers have to do hard things sometimes.” The year of her father’s absence passes with milestones like Thanksgiving and Christmas. Be brave Natalie is written at the bottom of each page’s text indicating Natalie’s comforting words to herself as she misses her father every day. Natalie does manage to be brave and is even able to comfort her little brother when he is upset. Finally her father returns and “Natalie races to her father and hugs him around the legs”. The soft tones of the illustrations complement the comforting story. Based on the story of Jill Biden’s own grandchildren. Includes information for adults about the military community and how to reach out and help them.

 

 

SometimesWeWereBraveCover

Brisson, Pat. (2010) Illustrated by France Brassard  Sometimes We Were Brave Boyds Mills Press.

ISBN: 978-1590785867

Jerome’s mother is in the Navy and when she goes away to work on her big ship she tells him “Be brave, Jerome. I’ll be back as soon as I can.” Even though Jerome doesn’t feel brave, his life still goes on with his father and his dog, Duffy. Sometimes they get surprises or treats, but sometimes they also have bad days or have accidents. When they have a pet show at his school Duffy the dog is so frightened that he hides behind Jerome’s legs, but he manages to sit, walk and shake hands when he is asked. Jerome’s teacher tells Jerome that, “Being brave means doing what you’re supposed to do even though you’re afraid.” Illustrated with warm full-page paintings, Sometimes We Were Brave is an affirming book about getting through difficult times.

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FatherComingHome

Brown, Margaret Wise. (2010) Illustrated by Steven Savage. The Fathers are Coming Home. Margaret K. McElderry.

ISBN: 978-0689833458

Margaret Wise Brown died in 1952, but this book came out in 2010. It is a warm story for the youngest listeners who want to hear about returning fathers. Most of the fathers who return are animals; from bugs to dogs, but it is tied together nicely for military children, especially connected to the Navy, by the ship illustrated on the first page and the sailor father at the end who “comes home form the sea. Home to his little boy.”

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MyRedBalloon

Bunting, Eve. (2005) Illustrated by Kay Life My Red Balloon Boyds Mills Press.

ISBN: 1590782631

Bobby’s father is coming home off his ship where he has been “Making sure our country stays safe”. Bobby and his mother are so excited to be meeting him that they’re all dressed up, right down to his new Spiderman underpants. But the best thing they have for his father is a red, heart shaped balloon with “Welcome Home” written on it. Bobby is worried that his father won’t know him because he has been away so long, and Bobby has grown so much, so the balloon is his identification. Bobby carries the balloon carefully as they get ready, wait on the dock and as they watch the ship come in. But disaster looks inevitible when the balloon comes loose, until it floats up right among the sailors on the ship. A descriptive and reassuring story.

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DearBabyImWatching

Casey, Carol. (2010) Dear Baby I’m Watching Over You Dear Baby Books. 2010

IN PRINT

ISBN: 978-0982097236

For my full review, see Pied Piper Pics, the picture book review blog from the Williamsburg Regional Library.

An affecting story that ends in a promise that small military children can hold close, “I’m alway, always watching over you.”

 

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Year of the Jungle

Collins, Suzanne, (2013). Year of the Jungle Scholastic Press

IN PRINT

ISBN-10: 0545425166

ISBN-13: 978-0545425162

This autobiographical book by bestselling author of The Hunger Games came out on September 10, 2013. Suzy hears that her father “has to go to something called a war”, leaving her confused. She also learns that he will be in a jungle. Suzy knows about jungles from cartoons so she pictures her father in a happy place among her favorite cartoon characters, but things change as she learns more about his situation. Parents and caregivers thinking of sharing this with very young military children should read it first themselves and decide if it is appropriate. It all comes out well in the end, but it does have some dark moments and pictures.

 

For a longer review I wrote for the Williamsburg Regional Library, see Blogging for a Good Book

 

PilotMom
Duble, Kathleen Benner. Illustrator: Marks, Alan (2003) Pilot Mom. Watertown, MA.Charlesbridge Publishing.

IN PRINT
ISBN: 1570915555

Jenny’s mother is a tanker pilot in the Air Force and is about to leave for training for two weeks. Jenny is proud of her Mom, but also worried about the dangers she is in, so her mother has arranged to take Jenny and her friend K.C. to the air base to show them what Jenny’s mother does. They start by helping Jenny’s Mom fill up the pockets on her flight suit, and Jenny gets to add her lucky silver dollar. Then at the base they go inside a KC-135 and talk about how the refueling is done. At the end Jenny’s father’s arrival shows that the family unit will still be intact and strong despite Jenny’s mother’s absence. The watercolor and ink illustrations emphasize the sky and the majesty of flying but also capture the characters’ range of emotions.

Recommended.

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NightCatch
Ehrmantraut, Brenda, (2005). Night Catch. Bubble Gum Press. Jamestown. North Dakota.

IN PRINT
ISBN: 0972983392

This warm book is written in the words of a soldier father talking to his son. The father is going away so as a connection he invents a game of pretending to send the star Polaris back and forth between him and his son. The concept of the time difference is introduced and both father and son are shown sleeping and awake; the father in the desert and the son in America. The endnote information about and diagram of the North Star add to the utility of the book. Military parents and children could use this book as a start for a “Night Catch” game of their own.

Recommended

Back to Top

Hero_Dad

Hardin, Melinda, (2010). Illustrated by Bryan Langdo.  Hero Dad. Pinwheel Books: Marshall Cavendish

IN PRINT

ISBN-13: 978-0761457138

In this simply told story for younger children a small boy talks about his father, “My Dad is a superhero. he doesn’t wear rocket-propelled boots – he wears Army boots.” On other pages his super powers turn out to be related to his army life and gear. Active watercolor illustrations and simple text make this a great read-aloud for smaller military children.

 

 

 

Hero_Mom

Hardin, Melinda, (2013). Illustrated by Bryan Langdo.  Hero Dad. Amazon Children’s Publishing

IN PRINT

ISBN-13: 978-1477816455

This is the companion book to Hero Dad from 2010. Like Hero Dad it is a simple and short story with the children’s mothers performing a variety of tasks in the military. “My mom doesn’t have super-human speed, but she gets everything where it needs to go, just in time.” Again active watercolor illustrations and simple text make this a great read-aloud for smaller military children, especially when used in tandem with Hero Dad.

 

 

 

Captain Cat Cover
Hoff, Syd. (1993). Captain Cat. Harper Trophy.

IN PRINT
ISBN: 0-06-444176-8 (Paperback)
ISBN:  0-606-06267-X (Turtleback Books Library Binding)

This is not a book about the experiences of military children but it is a rarity – a picture book depicting everyday life on an army base. It is a warm, gently humorous book about a stray cat who wanders onto an army base. The soldiers who feed and care for him treat him kindly. Some of the events are factually unlikely such as a General giving an order to march (rather than delegating it to a sergeant) and it appears to be depicting basic training rather than the ongoing life in the military (because of details such as the soldiers sleeping in multi-bedded dormitories). It could be a useful book because it depicts the everyday world of many military children who live on a base in a straightforward and positive way with an animal as a protagonist.

Recommended.

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Knit Your Bit
Hopkinson, Deborah. (2013). Knit Your Bit: A World War I Story. Putnams.

ISBN-10: 039925241X

ISBN-13: 978-0399252419

Mikey’s Pop “has left to be a soldier” and Mikey wants to do something big to help. His mother and sister suggest knitting for the soldiers but Mikey doesn’t want to do something so girlish until their teacher tells them about a Knitting Bee in Central Park. The boys in Mikey’s class call themselves the Boys’ Knitting Brigade and know that they will beat the Purl Girls. This book is based on true events during World War I including a knitting competition in Central Park in July of 1918. The endpapers include historical photographs of children knitting during World War I.

Recommended.

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OurDaddyisInvincible

Maxwell, Shannon, (2010). Our Daddy is Invincible! 4th Division Press

ISBN-10: 1617510033

ISBN-13: 978-1617510038

Alexis and Eric think their father is Superman. He “sometimes goes on long trips for work” but nothing can hurt him, because he is invincible. Life changes when their father is injured, but he is still their daddy who greets them with hugs. The book shows several different families enjoying their time together despite the challenges of parents’ various types of injuries.

Illustrated in a bright and active style by freelance artist Liza Biggers whose brother, Ethan, died of wounds he received in Iraq. Author Shannon Maxwell wrote this book after her husband was injured in Iraq and she co-founded the non-profit organization, Hope for the Warriors.

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LoveLizzieLetters

McElroy, Lisa Tucker Love Lizzie: Letters to a Military Mom Albert Whitman & Company Morton Grove, IL

ISBN-10: 0807547778

ISBN-13: 978-0807547779

Love Lizzie: Letters to a Military Mom is exactly what the title promises – Lizzie’s handwritten and illustrated letters to her mother fill up many of the half page spreads while other pages are filled with maps that Lizzie drew to send to her mother. They include her room, her neighborhood, the route of her soccer trip and more. And best of all are the letters and photos that Lizzie’s mother sends back to her. The letters cover almost a year as they are dated from June to May and Lizzie asks wistfully, “How long does defending freedom take?” Includes advice for adults about helping children handle the separation of deployment.

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MyFather is in the Navy Cover
McKinley, Robin, (1992). Illustrator: Gourbault, Martine. My Father Is in the Navy. New York, NY: Greenwillow Books.

OUT OF PRINT
ISBN: 0-688-10639-0  (Hardcover)
ISBN: 0-688-10640-4  (Library Binding)

Sara’s father is in the Navy and away on his ship. In this calm story Sara goes about her daily life with her mother. She knows that her father is coming home and that her mother is excited but she is worried because, “I didn’t remember him”. In the satisfying ending she finally sees her father and remembers him. This book was written about the childhood experiences of popular fantasy writer and Newbery winner Robin McKinley whose father was in the navy. Martine Gourbault’s pastel colored pencil illustrations complement the text about Sara’s secure life with her mother and her kitten.

Highly recommended.

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Nugget on the Flight Deck

Newman, Patricia. Illustrated by Aaron Zenz (2009) Nugget on the Flight Deck. Walker and Company

ISBN: 978-0802797353

Nugget is a boy going on a tour of an air craft carrier, and gets to fly in a naval plane. The emphasis is on facts rather than plot or character development, and some children prefer books this way. There are lots of military, and particularly, navy terms explained, such as, bird (an aircraft), rack, (a bunk bed), hatch (ship’s doorway). Includes facts about air craft carriers such as the size and weight, the number of TVs on board and the different colored uniforms the deck crew wear.

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Stars Above Us

Norman, Geoffrey. Illustrated by E.B. Lewis (2009) Stars Above Us G.P. Putnam’s Sons.

ISBN: 978-0399247248

Amanda is afraid of the dark, so her father takes her outside to see the beautiful things in the dark – fireflies and stars. When her father has to go away, he tells her that they can look at the same stars and think of each other. Amanda’s father’s military affiliation is vague except that he is shown wearing a uniform while he is away and at the airport when he returns, suggesting that he is perhaps in the National Guard or Reserves.

For a review by my colleague at the Williamsburg Regional Library, see Blogging for a Good Book.

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Postcards From a War

Oelschlager, Vanita (2009) Postcards from a War Vanita Books

ISBN: 978-0980016291 (Hardcover)

ISBN: 978-0981971407 (Paperback)

Matthew’s mother is in the air force, and while she is deployed he goes to his grandfather’s place after school. Matthew is worried about his mother so his grandfather tells Matthew about his own father being deployed during World War II and shows him the letters and postcards his father sent home. Together they make a “Love Daddy” and “Love, Mom” book with the emails from Matthew’s mother and the letters from Matthew’s great-grandfather. Based on the letters Vanita Oelschlager received from her own father in World War II, Postcards from a War connects generations and helps explain war in a way that children can understand.

 

whendadsatsea
Pelton, Mindy L. Illustrator:  Steele, Robert Gantt. (2004) When Dad’s at Sea. Albert Whitman & Company (January 1, 2004)

IN PRNT
ISBN: 0807563390

Emily’s Dad is a Navy Pilot and is away for months at a time. Emily and her parents make her a paper chain with as many links as days her father will be absent. Emily is so angry that she destroys it but her parents make another one. Time is shown passing with events such as Halloween and then Emily makes a friend who has a father on the same ship. The warm colors of the watercolor illustrations almost glow on some pages.

Recommended.

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My Daddy Was a Soldier
Ray, Deborah Kogan. (1990).  My Daddy Was a Soldier: A World War II Story. Holiday House, New York, N.Y.

OUT OF PRINT
ISBN: 0-8234-0795-0 (Hardcover)

Jeannie’s father has gone away to fight in World War II and Jeannie is scared; “the war came into my house to take Daddy away.” Everything changes for Jeannie. Her mother gets a job, there are blackouts and air raid sirens, food is rationed and they grow a Victory Garden.  Time passes, helped by Jeannie’s third grade scrap drive for metal and rubber but Christmas arrives without a letter and Jeannie cries. Finally when Jeannie is half way through fifth grade her father returns. The soft black and white drawings capture the reflective mood of the book.

Recommended.

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The Impossible Patriotism Project

Skeers, Linda. Illustrated by Ard Hoyt The Impossible Patriotism Project Dial Books for Young Readers, 2007 ISBN: 978-0-8037-3138-7

Caleb’s class is making patriotic projects for President’s Day. Everyone in Caleb’s class has a great idea and everyone is looking forward to displaying their work at the Parents’ Night party. Caleb has two big problems; his father is away so he come to Parents’ Night and he can’t think of a single patriotic idea. But then Caleb realizes that his deployed father is patriotism because what patriotism means is “keeping everyone in the United States safe” and his project turns out to be the best of all.

Recommended.

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WhileYouAreAway
Spinelli, Eileen. Illustrator: Graef, Renee. (2004) While You Are Away.  Hyperion

IN PRINT
ISBN: 0786809728

Three different children with parents in three different branches of the military (the Navy, Air Force and Army) talk about the things they miss doing with their parents and wonder if their parents are missing them. The flowing, melodious text reads like poetry. Slight inaccuracies include saying the Army Papa is driving a jeep when the illustration appears to show a Hum Vee (and a Hum Vee is a more likely vehicle in this situation). Also the three parents are shown being reunited with their children at the same place and it is unlikely that this would happen. The muted colors of the illustrations complement the warmth of the text.

Recommended

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Good Night Captain MamaTiscareño-Sato, Graciela Good Night Captain Mama / Buenas Noches Capitán Mamá, 2013  Gracefully Global Group ISBN: 978-0983476030

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Red, White, and Blue Good-bye

Tomp, Sarah Wones. Illustrated by Ann Barrow Red, White, and Blue Good-bye Walker, 2005 (April 30, 2005)ISBN: 0802789617

A little girl is sad because her father has to sail away on his ship for six months. She tries hiding in his sea bag so she can go with him, then hiding his boots so he can’t go, but none of it works and he still works on his preparations to leave. To comfort her he shows her things that will connect them, and that also reflect the color of the American flag – red mailbox flag, white clouds and blue ocean.

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Christmas box cover
Wetzel, Jo Anne Stewart, (1992). Illustrator: Root, Barry. The Christmas Box. New York, NY: Alfred A. Knopf. Illustrated by Barry Root.

OUT OF PRINT
ISBN: 0-679-81789-1 (Hardcover)

It is 1952 and Daddy has gone to Japan without his family to be a soldier. It is exciting for his two children to get his letters, imagine him living in a tent and even sending him Christmas cookies in October but as Christmas nears his absence is felt strongly. Then a box arrives from him with Japanese things in it, “But the best present was for all of us – a photo album filled with pictures of Daddy.” This book captures the way loved ones are missed more on special occasions. The mention of a new school, October then Christmas show the passage of many months in way children can understand. Barry Root’s illustrations capture a warm family life even with an absent father.

Recommended.

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All Those Secrets of the World Cover
Yolen, Jane, (1991). Illustrator: Baker, Leslie. All Those Secrets of the World. Boston, PA: Little Brown and Company. Illustrated by Leslie Baker.

ISBN: 0-316-96895-1 (Soft cover- Out of Print)
ISBN: 0-316-96891-9 (First Edition Hardcover – Out of Print)
IN PRINT
ISBN: 0-606-05113-9 (Turtleback Books Reprint)

Janie’s father is going off on a big ship to World War II. Four-year-old Janie doesn’t really know where her father is going but she is happy about the excitement of seeing the ship off and getting an ice-cream. Playing with her cousin later he shows her that things that are farther away look smaller, so her father’s ship on the horizon looks tiny. When her father returns two years later he tells her she is bigger and she points out that it is because he is closer to her now. There are poignant details like the brother who was a baby in arms when his father left not knowing his father on his return. The butterfly kisses and hugs Janie gets as her father leaves and returns make the story circularly complete and very satisfying. This book is about popular children’s writer Jane Yolen’s own childhood. Leslie Baker’s watercolor paintings capture the details of childhood in a tender but unsentimental way. This was a Reading Rainbow book.

For a longer review I wrote, see Pied Piper Pics, the picture book review blog from the Williamsburg Regional Library.

Highly Recommended.

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Reviews for Picture Books

Here is the list  Picture Books that I have reviewed:

 

Sometimes We Were Brave by Pat Brisson

 

My Red Balloon, by Bunting, Eve. Illustrated by Kay Life

 

Dear Baby I’m Watching Over You, by Carol Casey

 

Year of the Jungle, by Suzanne Collins

 

Pilot Mom by Kathleen Benner Duble

 

Hero Dad by Melinda Hardin

 

Hero Mom by Melinda Hardin

 

Captain Cat by Syd Hoff

 

Knit Your Bit by Deborah Hopkinson

 

Our Daddy is Invincible! by Shannon Maxwell

 

Love Lizzie: Letters to a Military Mom, by McElroy, Lisa Tucker

 

My Father is in the Navy by Robin McKinley

 

Nugget on the Flight Deck by Patricia Newman

 

Stars Above Us by Geoffrey Norman

 

Postcards from a War by Vanita Oelschlager

 

When Dad’s at Sea by Mindy L. Pelton

 

My Daddy Was a Soldier: A World War II Story by Deborah Kogan Ray

 

While You Are Away by Eileen Spinelli

 

The Impossible Patriotism Project by Linda Skeers

 

Good Night Captain Mama / Buenas Noches Capitán Mamá, by Graciela Tiscareño-Sato

 

Red, White, and Blue Good-bye, by Tomp, Sarah Wones. Illustrated by Ann Barrow

 

The Christmas Box by Jo Anne Stewart Wetzel

 

All Those Secrets of the World by Jane Yolen

 

Reviews

 

Biden, Jill. (2012) Illustrated by Raul Colon Don’t Forget, God Bless Our Troops Simon & Schuster / Paula Wiseman Books

ISBN-10: 144245735X

ISBN-13: 978-1442457355

 

Natalie’s father has to go away and Natalie is sad. Her mother tells her that “Soldiers have to do hard things sometimes.” The year of her father’s absence passes with milestones like Thanksgiving and Christmas. Be brave Natalie is written at the bottom of each page’s text indicating Natalie’s comforting words to herself as she misses her father every day. Natalie does manage to be brave and is even able to comfort her little brother when he is upset. Finally her father returns and “Natalie races to her father and hugs him around the legs”. The soft tones of the illustrations complement the comforting story. Based on the story of Jill Biden’s own grandchildren. Includes information for adults about the military community and how to reach out and help them.

 

 

 

 

 

SometimesWeWereBraveCover

 

Brisson, Pat. (2010) Illustrated by France Brassard  Sometimes We Were Brave Boyds Mills Press.

 

ISBN: 978-1590785867

 

Jerome’s mother is in the Navy and when she goes away to work on her big ship she tells him “Be brave, Jerome. I’ll be back as soon as I can.” Even though Jerome doesn’t feel brave, his life still goes on with his father and his dog, Duffy. Sometimes they get surprises or treats, but sometimes they also have bad days or have accidents. When they have a pet show at his school Duffy the dog is so frightened that he hides behind Jerome’s legs, but he manages to sit, walk and shake hands when he is asked. Jerome’s teacher tells Jerome that, “Being brave means doing what you’re supposed to do even though you’re afraid.” Illustrated with warm full-page paintings, Sometimes We Were Brave is an affirming book about getting through difficult times.

 

Back to Top

 

 

 

FatherComingHome

 

Brown, Margaret Wise. (2010) Illustrated by Steven Savage. The Fathers are Coming Home. Margaret K. McElderry.

 

ISBN: 978-0689833458

 

Margaret Wise Brown died in 1952, but this book came out in 2010. It is a warm story for the youngest listeners who want to hear about returning fathers. Most of the fathers who return are animals; from bugs to dogs, but it is tied together nicely for military children, especially connected to the Navy, by the ship illustrated on the first page and the sailor father at the end who “comes home form the sea. Home to his little boy.”

 

Back to Top

 

 

 

MyRedBalloon

 

Bunting, Eve. (2005) Illustrated by Kay Life My Red Balloon Boyds Mills Press.

 

ISBN: 1590782631

 

Bobby’s father is coming home off his ship where he has been “Making sure our country stays safe”. Bobby and his mother are so excited to be meeting him that they’re all dressed up, right down to his new Spiderman underpants. But the best thing they have for his father is a red, heart shaped balloon with “Welcome Home” written on it. Bobby is worried that his father won’t know him because he has been away so long, and Bobby has grown so much, so the balloon is his identification. Bobby carries the balloon carefully as they get ready, wait on the dock and as they watch the ship come in. But disaster looks inevitible when the balloon comes loose, until it floats up right among the sailors on the ship. A descriptive and reassuring story.

 

Back to Top

 

 

 

 

 

DearBabyImWatching

 

Casey, Carol. (2010) Dear Baby I’m Watching Over You Dear Baby Books. 2010

 

IN PRINT

 

ISBN: 978-0982097236

 

For my full review, see Pied Piper Pics, the picture book review blog from the Williamsburg Regional Library.

 

An affecting story that ends in a promise that small military children can hold close, “I’m alway, always watching over you.”

 

 

 

Back to Top

 

 

 

Year of the Jungle

 

Collins, Suzanne, (2013). Year of the Jungle Scholastic Press

 

IN PRINT

 

ISBN-10: 0545425166

 

ISBN-13: 978-0545425162

 

This autobiographical book by bestselling author of The Hunger Games came out on September 10, 2013. Suzy hears that her father “has to go to something called a war”, leaving her confused. She also learns that he will be in a jungle. Suzy knows about jungles from cartoons so she pictures her father in a happy place among her favorite cartoon characters, but things change as she learns more about his situation. Parents and caregivers thinking of sharing this with very young military children should read it first themselves and decide if it is appropriate. It all comes out well in the end, but it does have some dark moments and pictures.

 

 

 

For a longer review I wrote for the Williamsburg Regional Library, see Blogging for a Good Book

 

 

 

PilotMom

Duble, Kathleen Benner. Illustrator: Marks, Alan (2003) Pilot Mom. Watertown, MA.Charlesbridge Publishing.

 

IN PRINT

ISBN: 1570915555

 

Jenny’s mother is a tanker pilot in the Air Force and is about to leave for training for two weeks. Jenny is proud of her Mom, but also worried about the dangers she is in, so her mother has arranged to take Jenny and her friend K.C. to the air base to show them what Jenny’s mother does. They start by helping Jenny’s Mom fill up the pockets on her flight suit, and Jenny gets to add her lucky silver dollar. Then at the base they go inside a KC-135 and talk about how the refueling is done. At the end Jenny’s father’s arrival shows that the family unit will still be intact and strong despite Jenny’s mother’s absence. The watercolor and ink illustrations emphasize the sky and the majesty of flying but also capture the characters’ range of emotions.

 

Recommended.

 

Back to Top

 

 

NightCatch

Ehrmantraut, Brenda, (2005). Night Catch. Bubble Gum Press. Jamestown. North Dakota.

 

IN PRINT

ISBN: 0972983392

 

This warm book is written in the words of a soldier father talking to his son. The father is going away so as a connection he invents a game of pretending to send the star Polaris back and forth between him and his son. The concept of the time difference is introduced and both father and son are shown sleeping and awake; the father in the desert and the son in America. The endnote information about and diagram of the North Star add to the utility of the book. Military parents and children could use this book as a start for a “Night Catch” game of their own.

 

Recommended

 

Back to Top

 

Hero_Dad

 

Hardin, Melinda, (2010). Illustrated by Bryan Langdo.  Hero Dad. Pinwheel Books: Marshall Cavendish

 

IN PRINT

 

ISBN-13: 978-0761457138

 

In this simply told story for younger children a small boy talks about his father, “My Dad is a superhero. he doesn’t wear rocket-propelled boots – he wears Army boots.” On other pages his super powers turn out to be related to his army life and gear. Active watercolor illustrations and simple text make this a great read-aloud for smaller military children.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Hero_Mom

 

Hardin, Melinda, (2013). Illustrated by Bryan Langdo.  Hero Dad. Amazon Children’s Publishing

 

IN PRINT

 

ISBN-13: 978-1477816455

 

This is the companion book to Hero Dad from 2010. Like Hero Dad it is a simple and short story with the children’s mothers performing a variety of tasks in the military. “My mom doesn’t have super-human speed, but she gets everything where it needs to go, just in time.” Again active watercolor illustrations and simple text make this a great read-aloud for smaller military children, especially when used in tandem with Hero Dad.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Captain Cat Cover

Hoff, Syd. (1993). Captain Cat. Harper Trophy.

 

IN PRINT

ISBN: 0-06-444176-8 (Paperback)

ISBN:  0-606-06267-X (Turtleback Books Library Binding)

 

This is not a book about the experiences of military children but it is a rarity – a picture book depicting everyday life on an army base. It is a warm, gently humorous book about a stray cat who wanders onto an army base. The soldiers who feed and care for him treat him kindly. Some of the events are factually unlikely such as a General giving an order to march (rather than delegating it to a sergeant) and it appears to be depicting basic training rather than the ongoing life in the military (because of details such as the soldiers sleeping in multi-bedded dormitories). It could be a useful book because it depicts the everyday world of many military children who live on a base in a straightforward and positive way with an animal as a protagonist.

 

Recommended.

 

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Knit Your Bit

Hopkinson, Deborah. (2013). Knit Your Bit: A World War I Story. Putnams.

 

ISBN-10: 039925241X

 

ISBN-13: 978-0399252419

 

Mikey’s Pop “has left to be a soldier” and Mikey wants to do something big to help. His mother and sister suggest knitting for the soldiers but Mikey doesn’t want to do something so girlish until their teacher tells them about a Knitting Bee in Central Park. The boys in Mikey’s class call themselves the Boys’ Knitting Brigade and know that they will beat the Purl Girls. This book is based on true events during World War I including a knitting competition in Central Park in July of 1918. The endpapers include historical photographs of children knitting during World War I.

 

Recommended.

 

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OurDaddyisInvincible

 

Maxwell, Shannon, (2010). Our Daddy is Invincible! 4th Division Press

 

ISBN-10: 1617510033

 

ISBN-13: 978-1617510038

 

Alexis and Eric think their father is Superman. He “sometimes goes on long trips for work” but nothing can hurt him, because he is invincible. Life changes when their father is injured, but he is still their daddy who greets them with hugs. The book shows several different families enjoying their time together despite the challenges of parents’ various types of injuries.

 

Illustrated in a bright and active style by freelance artist Liza Biggers whose brother, Ethan, died of wounds he received in Iraq. Author Shannon Maxwell wrote this book after her husband was injured in Iraq and she co-founded the non-profit organization, Hope for the Warriors.

 

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LoveLizzieLetters

 

McElroy, Lisa Tucker Love Lizzie: Letters to a Military Mom Albert Whitman & Company Morton Grove, IL

 

ISBN-10: 0807547778

 

ISBN-13: 978-0807547779

 

Love Lizzie: Letters to a Military Mom is exactly what the title promises – Lizzie’s handwritten and illustrated letters to her mother fill up many of the half page spreads while other pages are filled with maps that Lizzie drew to send to her mother. They include her room, her neighborhood, the route of her soccer trip and more. And best of all are the letters and photos that Lizzie’s mother sends back to her. The letters cover almost a year as they are dated from June to May and Lizzie asks wistfully, “How long does defending freedom take?” Includes advice for adults about helping children handle the separation of deployment.

 

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MyFather is in the Navy Cover

McKinley, Robin, (1992). Illustrator: Gourbault, Martine. My Father Is in the Navy. New York, NY: Greenwillow Books.

 

OUT OF PRINT

ISBN: 0-688-10639-0  (Hardcover)

ISBN: 0-688-10640-4  (Library Binding)

 

Sara’s father is in the Navy and away on his ship. In this calm story Sara goes about her daily life with her mother. She knows that her father is coming home and that her mother is excited but she is worried because, “I didn’t remember him”. In the satisfying ending she finally sees her father and remembers him. This book was written about the childhood experiences of popular fantasy writer and Newbery winner Robin McKinley whose father was in the navy. Martine Gourbault’s pastel colored pencil illustrations complement the text about Sara’s secure life with her mother and her kitten.

 

Highly recommended.

 

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Nugget on the Flight Deck

 

Newman, Patricia. Illustrated by Aaron Zenz (2009) Nugget on the Flight Deck. Walker and Company

 

ISBN: 978-0802797353

 

Nugget is a boy going on a tour of an air craft carrier, and gets to fly in a naval plane. The emphasis is on facts rather than plot or character development, and some children prefer books this way. There are lots of military, and particularly, navy terms explained, such as, bird (an aircraft), rack, (a bunk bed), hatch (ship’s doorway). Includes facts about air craft carriers such as the size and weight, the number of TVs on board and the different colored uniforms the deck crew wear.

 

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Stars Above Us

 

Norman, Geoffrey. Illustrated by E.B. Lewis (2009) Stars Above Us G.P. Putnam’s Sons.

 

ISBN: 978-0399247248

 

Amanda is afraid of the dark, so her father takes her outside to see the beautiful things in the dark – fireflies and stars. When her father has to go away, he tells her that they can look at the same stars and think of each other. Amanda’s father’s military affiliation is vague except that he is shown wearing a uniform while he is away and at the airport when he returns, suggesting that he is perhaps in the National Guard or Reserves.

 

For a review by my colleague at the Williamsburg Regional Library, see Blogging for a Good Book.

 

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Postcards From a War

 

 

Oelschlager, Vanita (2009) Postcards from a War Vanita Books

 

ISBN: 978-0980016291 (Hardcover)

 

ISBN: 978-0981971407 (Paperback)

 

Matthew’s mother is in the air force, and while she is deployed he goes to his grandfather’s place after school. Matthew is worried about his mother so his grandfather tells Matthew about his own father being deployed during World War II and shows him the letters and postcards his father sent home. Together they make a “Love Daddy” and “Love, Mom” book with the emails from Matthew’s mother and the letters from Matthew’s great-grandfather. Based on the letters Vanita Oelschlager received from her own father in World War II, Postcards from a War connects generations and helps explain war in a way that children can understand.

 

 

 

whendadsatsea

Pelton, Mindy L. Illustrator:  Steele, Robert Gantt. (2004) When Dad’s at Sea. Albert Whitman & Company (January 1, 2004)

 

IN PRNT

ISBN: 0807563390

 

Emily’s Dad is a Navy Pilot and is away for months at a time. Emily and her parents make her a paper chain with as many links as days her father will be absent. Emily is so angry that she destroys it but her parents make another one. Time is shown passing with events such as Halloween and then Emily makes a friend who has a father on the same ship. The warm colors of the watercolor illustrations almost glow on some pages.

 

Recommended.

 

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My Daddy Was a Soldier

Ray, Deborah Kogan. (1990).  My Daddy Was a Soldier: A World War II Story. Holiday House, New York, N.Y.

 

OUT OF PRINT

ISBN: 0-8234-0795-0 (Hardcover)

 

Jeannie’s father has gone away to fight in World War II and Jeannie is scared; “the war came into my house to take Daddy away.” Everything changes for Jeannie. Her mother gets a job, there are blackouts and air raid sirens, food is rationed and they grow a Victory Garden.  Time passes, helped by Jeannie’s third grade scrap drive for metal and rubber but Christmas arrives without a letter and Jeannie cries. Finally when Jeannie is half way through fifth grade her father returns. The soft black and white drawings capture the reflective mood of the book.

 

Recommended.

 

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The Impossible Patriotism Project

 

Skeers, Linda. Illustrated by Ard Hoyt The Impossible Patriotism Project Dial Books for Young Readers, 2007 ISBN: 978-0-8037-3138-7

 

Caleb’s class is making patriotic projects for President’s Day. Everyone in Caleb’s class has a great idea and everyone is looking forward to displaying their work at the Parents’ Night party. Caleb has two big problems; his father is away so he come to Parents’ Night and he can’t think of a single patriotic idea. But then Caleb realizes that his deployed father is patriotism because what patriotism means is “keeping everyone in the United States safe” and his project turns out to be the best of all.

 

Recommended.

 

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WhileYouAreAway

Spinelli, Eileen. Illustrator: Graef, Renee. (2004) While You Are Away.  Hyperion

 

IN PRINT

ISBN: 0786809728

 

Three different children with parents in three different branches of the military (the Navy, Air Force and Army) talk about the things they miss doing with their parents and wonder if their parents are missing them. The flowing, melodious text reads like poetry. Slight inaccuracies include saying the Army Papa is driving a jeep when the illustration appears to show a Hum Vee (and a Hum Vee is a more likely vehicle in this situation). Also the three parents are shown being reunited with their children at the same place and it is unlikely that this would happen. The muted colors of the illustrations complement the warmth of the text.

 

Recommended

 

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Good Night Captain MamaTiscareño-Sato, Graciela Good Night Captain Mama / Buenas Noches Capitán Mamá, 2013  Gracefully Global Group ISBN: 978-0983476030

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Red, White, and Blue Good-bye

 

Tomp, Sarah Wones. Illustrated by Ann Barrow Red, White, and Blue Good-bye Walker, 2005 (April 30, 2005)ISBN: 0802789617

 

A little girl is sad because her father has to sail away on his ship for six months. She tries hiding in his sea bag so she can go with him, then hiding his boots so he can’t go, but none of it works and he still works on his preparations to leave. To comfort her he shows her things that will connect them, and that also reflect the color of the American flag – red mailbox flag, white clouds and blue ocean.

 

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Christmas box cover

Wetzel, Jo Anne Stewart, (1992). Illustrator: Root, Barry. The Christmas Box. New York, NY: Alfred A. Knopf. Illustrated by Barry Root.

 

OUT OF PRINT

ISBN: 0-679-81789-1 (Hardcover)

 

It is 1952 and Daddy has gone to Japan without his family to be a soldier. It is exciting for his two children to get his letters, imagine him living in a tent and even sending him Christmas cookies in October but as Christmas nears his absence is felt strongly. Then a box arrives from him with Japanese things in it, “But the best present was for all of us – a photo album filled with pictures of Daddy.” This book captures the way loved ones are missed more on special occasions. The mention of a new school, October then Christmas show the passage of many months in way children can understand. Barry Root’s illustrations capture a warm family life even with an absent father.

 

Recommended.

 

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All Those Secrets of the World Cover

Yolen, Jane, (1991). Illustrator: Baker, Leslie. All Those Secrets of the World. Boston, PA: Little Brown and Company. Illustrated by Leslie Baker.

 

ISBN: 0-316-96895-1 (Soft cover- Out of Print)

ISBN: 0-316-96891-9 (First Edition Hardcover – Out of Print)

IN PRINT

ISBN: 0-606-05113-9 (Turtleback Books Reprint)

 

Janie’s father is going off on a big ship to World War II. Four-year-old Janie doesn’t really know where her father is going but she is happy about the excitement of seeing the ship off and getting an ice-cream. Playing with her cousin later he shows her that things that are farther away look smaller, so her father’s ship on the horizon looks tiny. When her father returns two years later he tells her she is bigger and she points out that it is because he is closer to her now. There are poignant details like the brother who was a baby in arms when his father left not knowing his father on his return. The butterfly kisses and hugs Janie gets as her father leaves and returns make the story circularly complete and very satisfying. This book is about popular children’s writer Jane Yolen’s own childhood. Leslie Baker’s watercolor paintings capture the details of childhood in a tender but unsentimental way. This was a Reading Rainbow book.

 

For a longer review I wrote, see Pied Piper Pics, the picture book review blog from the Williamsburg Regional Library.

 

Highly Recommended.