Sunday, March 15, 2020

Blue Skies

Bustard, Anne. Blue Skies
March 1st 2020 by Simon & Schuster
E ARC provided by Edelweiss Plus

Glory Bea lives in a small town of Gladiola, Texas during WWII. Her father was declared Missing In Action on Omaha Beach, but Glory doesn't believe he is really dead. In fact, when she hears that the Merci Train is coming to her state with a thank you from the people of France, she is sure that her father will be on the train. The train is coming two days after Valentines' Day, which was her parents anniversary, and it's hard to wait that long. There are lots of other things going on in the meantime. Glory's best friend, Ruby Jane, has a crush on Glory's neighbor, Ben, and wants Glory to play matchmaker, just like her grandmother. Grams is the best matchmaker around, with lots of matches to her credit, but Glory just doesn't seem to be able to get Ben interested in her friend. She wishes that her mother were a whole lot less interested in Randall Horton, a man who was in the service with her father and has come to town. He's been paying too much attention to her mother, and even gets a job in town at the pharmacy. Since she is sure her father is coming back soon, Glory is sure that her mother should not be keeping company with the man. In addition to these major things, there are smaller things like the newspaper printing French phrases to prepare the citizens for the train, a permanent wave that goes awry, and great details about everyday life in the 1940s. When the Merci Train reaches Gladiola, will Glory's hopes and dreams come true?
Strengths: Like this author's Anywhere But Paradise, Blue Skies is an engaging historical novel that addresses modern middle grade concerns while giving us a detailed snapshot of a particular time period. Our seventh grade does a Decades Unit, and I'm always looking for historical fiction set between 1920-1980 that talks about post war film, foods, and things like the local newspaper writing about what the citizens of the town are doing. It's also nice to see the extended family and the town's goings on. The cover is gorgeous!
Weaknesses: It seemed like a more modern thought process to have Glory would think her father would come home. I asked my father, who is roughly the age Glory would be now, and while he didn't have friends whose fathers died in the war (he was from a farming community), nearly everyone he knew lost a brother, cousin, or uncle. It was wartime, and everyone knew that the likelihood of dying was significant. It certainly makes for a more compelling story, though.
What I really think: Definitely purchasing, and would love Bustard to do a novel set during the early days of the British Invasion or another time period before the 1970s.

Sutter, Marcus. Secret Mission: Guam (Soldier Dogs #3)
March 5th 2019 by HarperCollins
Public library copy

Stryker is a doberman trained to help the US army carry messages and supplies to soldiers, and also can track and return to base if necessary. Bo is Chamorro, one of the indigenous people of Guam. His sister, Carmen, is helping the US armed forces who are on the island, which is being attacked by the Japanese. Stryker gets separated from his troops, and Bo is also on his own, trying to survive in the forest. The two meet after Stryker is injured, and the two try to make their way to the US base to deliver a message. It is a dangerous thing to do, and the Japanese are very brutal, but Bo is concerned for his people and needs to make sure the US forces have information to help them.
Strengths: This had plenty of details about battle, and Stryker and Bo were both very brave when trying to deliver their message. There are excellent notes at the end about all manner of topics in the story, which was great. This series, including Air Raid Search and Rescue, circulates very well.
Weaknesses: There was a lot going on, and I'm not really very interested in WWII, despite the number of books I read about it. I skimmed this one because I was tired, not because it wasn't a great book!
What I really think: I will buy every one of these that comes out in a prebind, since WWII books and books about dogs are very popular in my library, and these see constant use. Book 5, The Battle of the Bulge is available from Follett in a prebind, but oddly book 4, Victory at Normandy, is not. Upcoming titles include Soldier Dogs #6 Heroes on the Home Front and Soldier Dogs #7 Shipwreck on the High Seas.
Ms. Yingling

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