Wednesday, December 2, 2009

WWII--Kids coping on the home front

War seems like an unlikely topic for a discussion of children's books. However, reading can lay the foundation for any youngster trying to develop coping skills--and don't we all need those? Children at home while their loved ones serve in the military are serving, too, in ways adults might not imagine.

The following two books have a gentle tone. The characters are as warm and believable as your next door neighbors. Their lives are changed, however, by a war far from their vegetable garden. Where do they find the strength to live the next day?

BLUE by Joyce Moyer Hostetter.
Ann Fay Honeycutt grows on you. From the first time you hear her voice, soft as honey but strong as the sulfur and molasses her North Carolina kin might have used to ready themselves for spring, you won’t stop listening. Ann Fay’s daddy goes off to war "to fight Hitler" and leaves her, only 13, to be "the man of the house." No matter what the crisis in her family of Momma, younger sisters, and little brother, she stands up to the task. Then a polio epidemic strikes. And Daddy is still away at war.

I won’t spoil the rest of the story. Ann Fay survives and is the main character in a sequel, COMFORT, which may not have been in the original plans of the writer. Maybe author Hostetter couldn’t let Ann Fay go, and, like the rest of us, wanted to know, "What happened next?" It’s enough to say both books are about kids coping with war and its aftermath. You’ll want to hear Ann Fay tell you how.

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