CHARLIE PIPPIN by Candy Dawson Boyd


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As a character study of a girl trying to understand the Vietnam War and what it did to her father, this has problems but is worth reading. Chartreuse (""Charlie"") Pippin is a pretty black sixth grader in Berkeley. She decides to study the war to try to answer some of her own questions. Why does her mother accept her father's rigid attitudes, saying that he lost his dreams? Why do her father and uncle, both vets, feel so differently from each other? What was the war about, anyway? Unfortunately, the answers she gets are confusing. If her father had lost his dream of being a painter when he returned from Vietnam 16 years before, why is there a painting he did of her as a toddler? Her determination to sneak around authority gives this some amusing moments, but it makes the book as tense as the unhappy relationship between father and daughter that is supposedly healed as she pays tribute to his lost comrades in arms. There are many issues here--the racism of the Vietnam War, nuclear war, and family tension. Father-daughter relationships make a good theme, but the things that both Charlie and her father learn are not expressed in a way that a child can really understand. This might have been better as a YA novel; yet the characters and situations seem real, and the questions the book addresses are important and not well-represented in books for children.

Pub Date: April 1st, 1987
Page count: 192pp
Publisher: Macmillan