|My Secret War, 1941, |
part of the Dear America series
My Secret War,
The World War II Diary of Madeline Beck
Written by Mary Pope Osborne
Scholastic Books, 2000
Grades 4-8, 740L
165 pages, 26500 words
Historical fiction, War, Growing up, First Love, Life on the Home Front World War II
A cold rain is falling. The wind blows hard from the Atlantic Ocean, rattling our window pane.
Mom and I have been living here in Mrs. Hawkins's Mansion-By-the-Sea for a week now, The name's misleading. Really, it's just a run-down old boardinghouse. Mom and I share a drafty room with heavy wooden beds, dusty oil paintings, and a ratty Chinese rug.
The other people living here are positively grim. Tonight Mom left me to have supper alone with them in the dining room while she volunteered at the Presbyterian Church, knitting sweaters for people bombed out in Britain.
Mom is good at making new friends. Unfortunately, I'm not. All week the girls at my new school have shown no interest in me at all. I don't know what to do to break the ice.
If you aren't familiar with the Dear America series, they are each written in diary form and feature a main character from a different historical time period. Each has an epilogue telling what happened to the mc after the events of the story, though of course even that is fictional. But the books are full of interesting historical details. Plus the back matter uses photos and reproduction memorabilia to tell fact from fiction, and to give a concise historical account of the chosen time period.
My Secret War focuses on fall 1941 to summer 1943. The plot centers on the little known landing of German U-boats on Long Island and the Florida coast. The main character, Maddie, is a typical pre-teen of the time. Her dad serves in the Pacific theater while she and her mom sacrifice for the war effort. Maddie must learn to adjust in a new school, making friends and finding first love. She must deal with conflicting emotions: mixing longing for her father with pride over his service, hope with reality, patriotic duty with hatred of war. She meets others who face similar predicaments. The plot is not all emotion. It contains action and intrigue as well.
I found this a moving portrait of the 40's, reminiscent of the stories I'd heard from my parents. It is not heavy-handed, but I did feel it was authentic. I'd recommend this as entertainment for kids, but also as a supplement to historical studies. Despite the romantic elements, It's great for boys or girls.
1. If you enjoyed My Secret War, don't miss the other books in the Dear America series. My favorites include, Winter of the Red Snow, A Picture of Freedom, and Coal Miner's Bride. Mary Pope Osborne has written two more: I Thought My Soul Would Rise and Fly and Standing in the Light, as well as numerous volumes in the My America series for younger readers.
|Written by Patricia McKissack|
|Written by Susan Campbell Bartoletti|
|Adaline Falling Star,|
by Mary Pope Osborne
|On the Wings of Heroes, by Richard Peck|
Cover art by Charles Pyle
Paper Wishes, reviewed by Heidi at Geo-Librarian.
The Last Cherry Blossom, reviewed by Patricia on Children's Books Heal
A Tiny Piece of Sky, reviewed by Jess of The Reading Nook Reviews
The Watcher, also reviewed on The Reading Nook Reviews
Number the Stars, reviewed by Mtrna on Night Writer
Greenhorn, reviewed by Laurisa on her blog
The Bicycle Spy, reviewed by Andrea on That's Another Story
And Karen has compiled several lists of WW II related books on Mrs. Yingling Reads.
Have you reviewed a Marvelous Middle Grade Book along this theme? Please leave the link in the comments below. Thanks!
Check out all the Marvelous Middle Grade Monday recommendations for January 9, 2017.
MMGM started way back in 2010 by Shannon Messenger, author of Keeper of Lost Cities. Each week, participating bloggers review our favorite books for ages 8-12. Why not join us?